Title           Harpoon
Game Type       Strategy
Publisher       Three-Sixty
Players         1
Compatibility   Game: All (1 MB) Scenario Editor: WB 1.3 only
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      daveyw@sinesurf.co.nz

Harpoon is based upon the pencil and paper wargame of the same name,
heavily endorsed by Tom Clancy, which is hardly surprising as the game
appeals most to his readers.

Harpoon is a strategic simulation in which you take control of warships
and aircraft, and battle it out with your computer-controlled opponent.
There are four "Battlesets"- GIUK Gap (Greenland, Iceland, UK), North
Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf. Each Battleset
features a dozen or so scenarios, with a wide range of units, tactical
goals, and difficulty. Given that you can choose to play either side in
each scenario, that gives you quite a lot of gameplay. Add on to that a
Scenario Editor that allows you to create your own scenarios, and you've
got plenty of scope. Unfortunately, the Scenario Editor appears to only
run on WB 1.3. Harpoon itself runs on any Amiga, though it will lock-up if
you click outside a requester, so if you're using AutoPoint or similar,
switch it off. There's no HD installer, but you can simply copy everything
into 1 drawer, and it will run without the need for assigns.

The scenarios of the first two Battlesets are based entirely upon a WWIII
confrontation between NATO and the Soviet Union. They range in size from
some missile-boat encounters, to major sea-battles involving multiple
fleets, dozens of ships, and hundreds of aircraft. The second two
Battlesets focus more on regional conflicts, and include the forces of
smaller countries as well. Curiously, only a few historical conflicts are
featured: French operations off the coast of Syria in the early 1980s;
Operation El Dorado Canyon, President Reagan's attempt to "punish" Libya;
and, of course, the 1991 Gulf War (if you manage to win this one playing
as Iraq, I'm sure Saddam Hussien would like to hear from you). There are
also some interesting "what-if" variations.

Once you've selected a BattleSet, chosen a scenario, and decided which
side to play as, you are put in the Commander's chair for the battle. It's
quite unfortunate that wargame programmers always sacrifice appearance. At
first glance, Harpoon looks awful. The graphics consist of simplistic
maps, a main window and a "zoom" window, upon which sit icons representing
your units. You can choose between two icon sets, little boats & planes,
or the more authentic, but arcane, symbols used by real Admirals and
Generals. Obviously, when a game looks this bad, its going to live or die
by its gameplay.

The biggest hurdle to enjoying the gameplay is speed. On my old A500,
Harpoon ran painfully slow. On my 030 A1200, it runs at a much better
speed. The larger scenarios, such as the Gulf War, require the most amount
of processor power. But with enough oomph behind it, Harpoon becomes an
utterly engrossing game. Many of the scenarios provide challenging battles
that can last several nerve-racking hours. In this respect, Harpoon is one
of the best strategy games I've ever played. It's crude appearance belies
some excellent gameplay.

Harpoon will particularly appeal to "tech-head" wargamers conversant with
modern military hardware. You don't need to know the difference between a
Kirov and a Kiev class warship to play Harpoon, but if you do, then you'll
get a lot more out of it. On top of the game itself, Harpoon features a
comprehensive encyclopaedia of modern ships, planes, and submarines. Along
with a hand-drawn picture of the vessel/craft, there is a short
descriptive text, and a full list of its weapon systems.

Harpoon has a few glitches in it. I suspect the game was rushed out. Apart
from the occasional lock-up on modern Amigas, the most annoying bug is
that, often when you check a units course, but don't change it and click
"Cancel" instead, that unit will swing around 180 degrees, and go back the
way it came. Weather in the game never changes, and was probably not
implemented in time for release. Oh, and a big rap on the knuckles for
thinking that Libya used to be a French colony (actually, it was Italian).

A more hi-tech sequel was produced for the PC, but was never ported to the
Amiga. Apart from a general bugfix and tidy up of graphics, I'd have liked
to have seen a Pacific Ocean BattleSet as well.

If you're a hard-core wargamers unconcerned by appearance, but enjoy pure
gamplay, then Harpoon is a game for you. If you're the sort of person who
thinks Jane is a saucy cartoon character, and not the definitive guide to
the world's navies and airforces, then Harpoon will bore you to death in
less than 3 seconds.

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