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PSS
1987
Strategy: War
£12.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

36,37
Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

With this game, PSS has returned to the territory it covered in Theatre Europe - World War III. The massed forces of the evil empire (Reagan-speak for the Russians) pour over the dividing tine between the oppressed eastern bloc and the wonderful world of democracy. This line runs down the centre of Germany, though what the Germans think of this idea the game doesn't go into.

This is a triffic game, though - one of the best wargames for the Speccy that I've seen so far. It's very complex, though, so don't choose it as your first ever wargame, 'cos I suspect you'll get nowhere. It's a two player game, although your adversary can be the computer. On one side are the Russians and their allies in the Warsaw Pact, while on the other are the forces of Nato consisting of most of the countries of the free world.

Each side has a variety of different types of unit. The infantry are tough but slow, mechanised infantry move a bit faster while armour units are big and butch and terribly tough. The armoured cavalry are semi-tough and last, airmobile troops are really fast, airborne paratroops tend to drop on your head and the mountain troops spend a of of time on the piste.

The screen shows two maps - a large tactical one which takes up most of the screen, and a smaller strategic one that sits in the top right hand corner. The large map is divided up into hexagons, each 30 kilometers wide and you're able to look at a particular of the front in detail. Up to four units can fit inside each hexagon at a time, though you can only see the top one. The others are revealed when you want to have a quick dekko though.

Below the little map you get all the information you request. You're told how well supplied the unit you're enquiring about is, what its combat strength is, how efficient it is, how far it can move in a turn and whether it's tired and wants to go home. All these things play an important part when you're trying to decide when a unit should stand and fight and when it should hightail it out of there.

The Russian objective is to break through the Nato defenders and reach the Rhine as quickly as possible. However, they've got to make sure that they don't overstretch the supply lines, 'cos otherwise the Red Army's done for. The Nato forces have to keep the Russians stalled for as long as possible, holding out until fresh reinforcements arrive from America. Both sides have the option of going nuclear when things go wrong, but it's not advisable - neither side wins and Europe's transformed into a radioactive desert.

Battlefield Germany's a really great game, all things considered. Graphically its wonderful, and the game play is tough enough for even the dedicated wargamer. It's not really a game for beginners, but once you've got the hang of wargames, you're sure to want to try this one!

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Mountains, forests, hills, rivers and other geographical features will slow you down and help the opposing forces. Plot your way round them with care.

Airborne paratroops can land just about anywhere on the board. Use them to sow confusion and distract the enemy, or break a hole in his defences. Don't throw them away too easily - they can be vulnerable.

Towns and cities are your targets. If you occupy lots, you're likely to win the game - unless the Button get pushed, of course.

Nuclear weapons dirty the hexagons they go off in. These devastated hexagons will slow units down, and may tire them out.

Nuking people is bad. If you must do it - use a clean bomb!

Paris isn't on the map - it's nice place to go for the weekend, though.

Infantry move slowly and should be used to consolidate captured territory and hold it against counter attack.

Armoured troops are your first attack. Don't expect them to hold the important places for long though, 'cos they'll need help.

Don't let your armour get bogged down - it's best as a mobile force, used to punch holes through enemy lines.

When you send in the tanks, make sure the mechanised infantry are right behind. They pack quite a punch in attack, and are strong in defence as well.

Mountain infantry have a major advantage in rough terrain, so use them in wooded or mountainous areas as they'll move quicker than other non-airborne units.

Airmobile troops can be devastating in attack. They can skip over enemy lines and attack rear echelon troops, causing havoc and isolating your opponent's front line.

Units must be able to trace a supply line to either their home map edge or, for Nato forces only, a port. This supply line can't pass through hexagons in an enemy unit's ZOC.

The tactical map shows an area about 300 kilometers square. The top unit in each hexagon is shown as a black silhouette against a blue (Nato) or red (Warsaw Pact) square. If there are other units in the hexagon they're shown by one or more dots in the top left of the square.

The hexagonal grid over the map show you your movements and where the enemy units are.

This is where your status displays appear for the units in a hexagon. You can find out the unit type, how strong it is in combat, how efficient it is, how far it can move and well it's supplied. You can also find out what it's called - who knows, you may want to invite it for tea!

The strategic map covers most of Germany, part of Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, a bit of Switzerland and France and a fair amount of the North Sea.

Each unit controls the hexagons surrounding the one it occupies. This is its zone of control or ZOC for short. Retreating units can't move into a ZOC, nor can supply routes be traced through them.