Title Campaign Game Type 3D Combat Sim Company Empire Software Author Jonathan Griffiths Players 1 Compatibility All (See Review) HD installable Yes Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review Campaign attempts to combine 3D Tank combat with a Strategy war game. How well it succeeds in bringing this combination off is largely down to the taste of the player, but for my money, any attempt to blur the edges of the well defined genres and produce a broader gaming experience is a valid approach and should be applauded, atleast in principle. The game is set in World War 2 which is a good choice given that Tanks (and the intelligence with which they were used) played a crucial role in that conflict. Campaign is played from various on-screen 'Maps', and having selected one, you can see your various formations, with their names, arranged around the landscape. You can scroll around the map or zoom in and out, assigning new waypoints to your formations, all with a click of your mouse. While the main display is not stunningly attractive its very functional and has a handy help function. Included on disk are three categories of Map which you can play: Simple, Average and Complex. The Simple variety begin with a single engagement where the main idea is to develop your skills in the 3D combat section while leading you very gently to familiarity with the Map screen. The Average Maps involve several formations, where the forces involved will not be defeated by the loss of a single battle, greater use of Air support and more ambitious objectives are featured. The Complex Maps, based on historical battles, can involve hundreds of tanks (nearly 3000 in the Kursk scenario) and here everything is included, with the games taking days to complete. Initially when playing a game you would be wise to look through your various formations to find out what sort of vehicles are included. This is done through a set of easily accessed screens, and again praise should be given to the user friendly approach and neat, if not hugely attractive, design. You can access a graphic of every vehicle included, giving you its speed, firepower and armour statistics as well as a selection of views to aid your identification skills. A good degree of realism seems to be involved, because as well as the various armour thicknesses (thicker on the front of your tanks) being calculated in the 3D battle, even details like the British 2 pounder gun's inability to fire anything other than Armour Piercing rounds (not much use against soft targets) is taken into account. Without wishing to bore you to death with a lot of historical twaddle the game accurately brings home a lot of historical detail which could well have educational applications. How did the British allow themselves to fall so far behind the Germans in Tank development when it was they who had lead the way in World War 1? What were the Russians doing with such a devastatingly effective Tank as the T34 so early in the war? Returning to the Map screen you can unpause the game and increase or decrease the rate that time elapses. Assuming you are making for your objectives, you will soon be greeted by a message informing you that an enemy formation (which now appears on the screen) has been spotted. You may have the opportunity to shell the enemy before actually confronting it. Air strikes are also possible, and this is usually a very good idea. Its far better to reduce a powerful enemy division to tatters than to engage it at a disadvantage, and let's face it, even if you're at an advantage it makes no sense, in war, letting a few more of your people die because it seemed fairer to the enemy. Eventually however, you will be forced to engage your adversary in close battle, and here you have the opportunity of dropping a few ranks and getting your hands dirty. Before battle is joined you can take advantage of several options. Only 16 of your tanks will appear in the fight at any one time, but you can be reinforced, assuming the reserves exist. You can now split those 16 vehicles into smaller groups, I've been using four groups of four. On the non-zoomable Battle map, you can arrange your vehicles as you see fit, although you have more freedom if you're defending. You can even opt to let the Battle be fought automatically and take no part in the messy business. Once you're ready and have chosen your options you select a Tank (you can change to another at any time) move to the 3D screen, and unpause the game. Sadly the landscape is flat, not ideal for an armoured warfare simulation, but there are collections of buildings and trees which add to the possibilities, and thankfully cause the otherwise ruthlessly efficient enemy a certain amount of confusion. The 3D, which has configurable complexity, runs fairly well on anything from an 020 upwards, but is definitely a bit on the slow side for a plain 68000 processor. Using an 060 (with the caches off for compatibility reasons) is fine although I'm not quite sure what's happening with the 3D engine because rather than simply making things smoother, the game speed itself seems to be accelerated. Its quite amusing to see an Infantry tank like the Matilda, which you could outrun on foot, go tearing past your position like a hare. So here we are, with 32 odd Armoured Fighting Vehicles trying to blow the stuffing out of each other, how does it actually play? Surprisingly well in fact. Many times I've looked at this game and abandoned any ideas of a proper campaign in favour of a (not so quick) blast that has gone on for an hour or more. Initially, I had some problems with the various control methods, but having settled for my own keyboard configuration, I can testify that there is a lot of fun to be had here. You can control the turret independently, but having a huge defficiency in game playing skill, I tend to leave the turret pointing directly ahead and just concern myself with driving the tank, pointing it in the right direction before adjusting the elevation of the gun and firing. This has the added bonus of presenting your thicker frontal armour to anything that you engage. You can however opt to either drive the tank or control the gun turret, leaving the other function to the computer, or indeed a friend. I've done a bit of research into armoured warfare, and seeing a squadron of enemy tanks come trundling through your position, blasting away at anything viable, in Campaign, does look to be pretty realistic. Its also impressive to see enemy tanks that you chase after, rotate their turrets and cover their retreat, often to deadly effect. On occasion you maybe forced into a battle that you don't want, and you have the option of retreating. This can be effective, if you don't mind some criticism from your superiors, but it can also be highly costly, and galling to see many of the tanks that you wished to preserve ending up captured by your gleeful opponent. Also included with Campaign is a Map Editor, so if you wish, you can fight out an imaginary (or historically accurate) battle you have configured yourself, choosing the vehicles from those that would have been available at the date you select. Campaign is an ambitious game, tackling as it does, both 3D combat (with shoot-em-up elements) and serious strategy (albeit in a straightforward form) including production of resources. In my view it works rather well, and could be enjoyed by a broad cross section of games players providing they invest a little patience. Unfortunately, on my system atleast, the 3D section occasionally freezes ending all progress. It is also a shame that like the sprite based Team Yankee (but unlike M1 Tank Platoon) the action takes place on a flat land where realistic use of terrain is not possible. Its odd that Jonathan Griffiths' earlier game Conqueror, which like Campaign is based on David Braben's 3D engine from the game Virus, used a beautifully undulating terrain that was just right for Tank combat. Admittedly though, there is a lot more going on in the background in Campaign with regards to AI, and given the game was written in 1990 it is understandable that more is not included. An ambitious game then, that despite some forgivable flaws is still quite impressive.