Rules of Engagement

Title           Rules of Engagement
Company     	Omnitrend/Impressions
Game Type       Strategy
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes
Compatibility   All
Submission      Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer

First of all, I'm no expert regarding this game. When I'd come across the
title before I'd always assumed it was another Universal Military
Simulator type affair and was filled with gloom and dispondency. Actually,
though, RoE is a real time, space fleet commander simulation. "A what?" I
hear you cry in unison. Well, put it this way, you remember in the
original "Star Trek", where they actually used to get into a battle from
time to time, and Captain Kirk would issue orders, like, "Raise the
Shields.", "One hundred percent dispersal pattern" and "Return fire!",
well in RoE you get to do all that and a lot more besides. You are in
control of a variable number of ships, and assigned missions which you
must complete in order to advance. I've only scratched the surface of the
game, but initially you'll be given tasks like chasing an enemy Transport,
destroying her rather feeble escort, then boarding and capturing her.
Things obviously get tougher when you go up against more challenging tasks
and face a more skilful enemy. Having said that you can play all mission
on Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced levels.

The game has an intro of sorts, where you are given a brief history of
events leading to the current war. Nothing to write home about, and the
music is frankly rather primitive despite attempting something of a Star
Wars theme once it gets going. RoE is apparently part of an "Interlocking
Game System" where you can combine it with the game "Breach 2", and play
through from one game to the other, within the same "game universe".
Sounds interesting.

That's the general idea behind the game, so how does it actually play?
Well, the various screens despite being highly functional, actually have
managed to be quite pleasing in form. The graphic design, in the way one
column of buttons links to another has clearly been influenced by the
consoles in "Star Trek NG" and once you become used to the system, and
it's conventions, it's apparent that it's been cleverly and ergonomically

The main screens you use on a mission are Navigation, Communications,
Tactical, and Data Retrieval. Initially the options available are a bit
overwhelming, but as I said, the design insures that things soon become
intuitive. To give you an idea of the detail, the maps are variable
resolution, you can send any of your ships to any object with a wide
variety of orders, like "Capture Outpost", "Destroy Enemy" or, heavens
forbid "Surrender to Enemy". You can check all the systems on any of your
ships, you can order their Captains to give you status reports. You can
use a variety of missiles against enemy forces (or friendly) and you can
adjust the focus of your laser right down to pinpoint accuracy where you
can target specific systems on a ship, like Shields, Communications,
Drive Systems or Life Support. I mentioned that you can board and capture
other vessels, but you can also change your attitude so that you are
presenting a different aspect to the enemy's weapons, useful if your port
shield is badly depleted, for example.

It should be clear that there's a great deal of game here, and if you're
are prone to liking this sort of game, with it's relatively accessible
depth, then you're in for a treat. I'd only criticise the game for lacking
a little gloss here and there. True, the screens look pretty good, and the
system has obviously had much time spent on it, to create a tasteful
result, but it could use a little more polish. Sounds in particular are a
little scarce, and it's almost a surprise when something happens
that generates an audio effect. A little atmospheric background audio
sprinkled here and there would have enhanced things a lot, in my view.
That aside, RoE does appear to be a very solid game, and I'm surprised I
haven't heard more about it.

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