The great German warship, Bismarck, weighed in at 41,700 tons and was launched in April 1941, making us Brits quake in our boots. So we sent put more than 30 ships to blow 'er out the water. Luckily (for us), a Swordfish from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal blasted her rudder beyond repair, leaving her a virtual sitting duck and easy prey for our ships.
Bismarck, the game, brilliantly recreates the last days of its nautical namesake. Control either the German vessel and escape to more friendly waters, or the pursuing British fleet. If you can't cope with the historical scenario, there are five set battles to practice on.
It's very complicated (as all good strategy sims should be), but intelligent use of icons and an ended joystick option stop it being tedious. Unfortunately, the instructions don't come up to the game's high standard and seriously mar enjoyment for the first few plays.
An amazingly accurate simulation of naval warfare, all-important elements such as weather and visibility are well covered. When engaging an enemy ship, careful study of direction and gun elevation wins the day, not lightning reflexes and mindless button-bashing. Watch out for damage to your own ship, too - delay sending that firefighting party too long and you may not live to regret it…
Again true to life, there's more to the game than open warfare. Some strategy hints are offered, but don't expect an easy time of it - Admirals aren't trained in a day (not even in the Italian navy!). It's up to you to know what's going on around you - it won't be offered on a plate. (I was once relieved of all duties for sinking one of my own ships!)
Strategy games don't appeal to everyone, but those who like a challenge will like Bismarck. It takes a while to get used to, but it's atmosphere, playability and incredible degree of historical accuracy make it a real winner.
IAN … 89%
Ready, aim, fire! Oops, it's one of our ships!