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PSS
1986
Strategy: War
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

67
Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

Plenty of drama in this theatre because if there's another World War, Europe will be the playing area. Obviously a game like this lays itself open to charges of bad taste. Nothing could be further from the truth. War is the bad taste. A serious, well researched program like this is an insight into the nature of modern war.

The game plays extremely smoothly. Computer wargames seem to work better on this large scale. Everything is cursor controlled, with the option to change moves that you immediately regret. There's not a wealth of information but what there is is presented clearly.

After the initial options, including the choice to play either Nato or Warsaw Pact and computer vs computer, it's into the command centre.

In traditional wargame style each round comprises movement then combat. Next comes an optional arcade sequence - the one feature I didn't like. It takes the form of a shooting game that alters combat bonuses, but if you feel like me you can always ignore it.

After combat has been resolved it's time to reinforce those key areas, air power and supply. You're then presented with a different type of command screen to allocate planes to various missions, ranging from air superiority to reconnaisance. Next come the special missions - where you can choose chemicals that could trigger a nuclear response, or your atomic capability on one of two levels. Choosing the latter being is highly likely to result in a nuclear exchange and zero for command capabilities.

Your main objective is to survive thirty days - all the experts reckon it'll take for the traditional armaments to run out. The West would then win the race to re-arm and so win the war. However I foudn that I was being forced to retreat further and further into France and eventually choose gas and finally a limited nuclear strike. The world ended with a bang, not a whimper.

Details of the effect of these special mission, and the request for the codeword to launch missiles are communicated teleprinter style. It's a simple but effective device which makes the computerised 'friendly' signing off all the more chilling. Readin the excellent booklet enclosed with the game spells out the futility of modern warfare clearly enough... but never so clearly as playing a simulation.

This is far from being a piece of bad taste exploitation. It's a highly moral, eye-opening introduction to the military mind which, to even consider the possibilities here, must be somewhat psychotic.

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Screenshot Text

Information on game turns scrolls through this window, keeping you up to date on your progress.

One month is all you've got for this war but don't neglect the DEFCON - that's how long till things go nuclear!

Vital stats on any unit under your scrutiny appear here. ARM is fighting land power; AIR is up there; and SUP is the all-important supply without which an army may as well give up the fight.

Green ground means a neutral country; yellow a neutral army - though after playing Theatre Europe you won't think that means cowardice.

Only the Warsaw Pact have separate land and sea army units. Watch out for their penetration potential.

This is the quaintly named COM BOX - the cursor used to choose a unit for command. It turns green while giving orders, during which time they can be revoked.

Better dead than Red? When these measles look more like Polo mints you know they're under orders.

World War Three - the arcade game. Using the base line icons you launch the right defence against an invading enemy who glides across the sky or out of the distance. Not the most sophisticated game but the same scene also does pretty things if you nuke it.