THE BULGE has nothing to do with eating too much paella on your summer hols. It's all about war, as you'd expect from Lothlorien, and it's set in the Christmas of 1944, when the snow was deep all over Belgium and the Allies storming towards Berlin.
The Battle of the Bulge was Hitler's response to the rapid success achieved by the allies after the initial D-Day landings. The plan was to blitzkrieg through the American lines, capture Antwerp, and split the allies in two.
Lothlorien's game, marketed under a new deal by Argus, simulates the campaign from either point of view, depending on your tastes. You can also play with a friend rather than against the computer.
There are two main displays, a 'global' one which shows the entire disposition of forces, and the battle map, a large scrolling area where orders are given and units moved. The essence of the game is to set appropriate long range objectives for main units and then adjust to send reinforcements to particular areas.
Terrain and weather are taken into account, and everything is real-time, which leaves room for little error. The Germans must punch through as fast as they can, while the allies must bolster the tattered lines.
The display is clear, if not particularly artistic, with UDG-style terrain and units. Movement is by positioning a cursor, and then pressing SPACE. Information is given on the unit's status and then you can issue orders to move it.
The Bulge begs comparison with the excellent Arnhem from CCS. The game is not quite so friendly to play, but gives as good a feel for the problems of the campaign. It might be improved with better sound effects, and clearer indications of when pieces have been moved or not, as it is possible to cancel an order without realising it.
That said, The Bulge is a good hard fight. It is fast and accurate, and a welcome addition to the new breed of computer wargames.