Storm Across Europe (Second Review)

Title		Storm Across Europe (Second Review)
Publisher	US Gold (1989)
Programmer      Dan Cermak (SSI)
Game Type	Strategy
Players 	1-3
HD Installable	Yes
Compatibility:	All (see note below)
Submission:	John Burns ( Profiled Reviewer

Note:  Whilst I say this game works on all machines you may
encounter some mis-aligned menu text on AGA machines which, if you aren't
conversant with the game, will be confusing.

Storm across Europe (also released for the C64 and PC) is a turn based WW2
wargame in which you control just about every aspect of your military
ambitions, from production and research to directing when and where to
attack. You take the part of Germany with the option of the Allied and
Russian forces being played either by the computer or a human player. This
immediately shows up a small problem with the game in that when playing
more than one power, each of the human players really do need to look away
whilst the other(s) take their turn otherwise you'll know each other's
weak and strong points. (Personally I've always thought in such games this
was a silly option except when the game could be played via a link-up

I should perhaps mention here that this is one of the hardest strategy
games I recall ever having played (I haven't ever won) always ending
getting the stuffing kicked out of my armies. That said, I don't believe
that this is due to my tactical ineptitude but to the game cheating the
player somewhat - but more on this later.

On the military side army control is limited to group level formations
whilst for air and sea ops it is by individual equipment (Bomber, Fighter,
Ship etc.). To illustrate, selecting an army unit such as "2nd Pnzr" will
allow you to move this formation, transfer men and armour and, should you
so decide, direct it to attack. On the other hand selecting an airbase
allows you to choose from a couple of options for both your bombers and
fighters and allocate the number of aircraft type to each of the selected
tasks. A similar system is used for each of your ship types with the
exception of submarines, where you just allocate a patrol area (Atlantic,
Baltic, etc.) and let them get on with it.

Control wise the game is easy enough to get into. Choosing, as you do,
from a menu which is always available on the bottom third of the screenm
(the rest being occupied by a map of Europe). Menu selections can be made
by either hitting the highlighted key on the keyboard or by selecting with
the mouse. To begin with when you elect to start a new game you will be
presented with the option of 6 starting dates (from Autumn 1939 through to
Summer 1944). This obviously determines at which point in the war you wish
to join the fray and therefore the initial deployment and number of units
available to you. In addition you can also select to adjust various other
parameters relating to research and production levels which make the game
harder or easier.

Right that's how it's played and controlled but what of the actual game?
Well as I intimated earlier it plays a mean game but by no means fair. As
a simulation of WW2 (European theatre anyway) it is limited since many
actual events just cannot be accomplished in the same timespan thereby
negating pretty much any "what if" factor. Starting a game in 1939 for
instance, if you take over Poland the Russians will attack immediately -
this hardly reflects reality and means that whilst Poland itself is easy
enough to conquer you have opened up a second front well before you may
have wanted to. So do you go all out against the Russians or concentrate
in over-running France?  Actually in practice such thought doesn't really
matter since the game dictates that you fight both simultaneously. OK
there is a way round this but it is due to cheating the game mechanism
rather than good tactical awareness.

Likewise, you are prevented from invading various areas such as Malta or
Gibraltar due to restrictions with placement of amphibious craft which you
have produced. Such limits also prevent the ability to carry out any
effective North African campaign, so in practice one just has to sit back
and watch your one Italian Army based there, eventually being wiped out as
you are unable to offer it any assistance. I mentioned the game cheating
you and this seems to be the case when you encounter armies which appear
indestructable no matter what you throw at them. This normally occurs if
you take too long attacking an area - the defending troops just get
stronger and stronger and eventually wipe out your attackers - hardly fair.

Overall then as a simulation of WW2 the game fails. However, that said, as
a strategy game it can offer quite a bit of enjoyment and a fairly hefty
challenge. Certainly not a game I'd recommend to non strategy fans or as a
serious wargame. If you do try it, my advice would be to forget about the
inaccuracies and limitations the game imposes and just try to see how far
you can progress.

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