Title Sabre Team (AGA) Game Type Combat simulation Players 1 Compatibility AGA (ECS version exists) Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review Sabre Team, originally released in 1992, is really a 3D isometric interpretation of the classic strategy game from the Gollop brothers, Laser Squad. Certainly the setting was changed from Science Fiction to a contemporary Special Forces scenario, but the influence of the earlier game is surely undeniable. In 1994 Krisalis spruced up Sabre Team, expanding it from two disks to five and released the AGA version. I should add though that in presentation terms the original ECS game was actually a very respectable effort, and the biggest criticism levelled towards it at the time was the delay that occurred while the AI processed the enemy's game turns. Like its ECS predecessor then, Sabre Team AGA puts you in control of an eight man team from the legendary British Special Forces unit, 22 SAS. Although this organisation was actually formed in World War 2 by David Stirling in the North African desert campaign, it probably only recaptured the public's imagination after the successful action against terrorists holding a number of hostages at the Iranian embassy in London, in 1980. No surprises then that the first mission involves rescuing a number of hostages (Americans in this case) from their London embassy. As the game loads you are presented with a number of static graphic screens, nicely produced with plenty of anti-aliasing with a punchy background tune. A sampled voice then briefs you on the essentials of your next mission, and although the sample is understandably quite short, it is of excellent quality further enhancing the atmosphere of the game. It is now decision time. You must select your team, choose their weapons, and deploy. The team selection screen displays portraits of your eight men, but only four of them can take part in any particular mission. Clicking on their pictures displays detailed information about their past experiences and their capabilities; like physical strength, marksmanship action points (more on this in a moment), and general awareness which relates to the range at which your men are likely to detect enemies. Moving to the weapon selection screen enables you to choose from a fair variety of weapons, (SA80, M16, G3, MP5, L96 and various grenades etc.) as well as other useful equipment like flak jackets, first aid packs and gas masks. Once you've finished your selection its time to click on the deploy icon and embark on the mission itself. As stated, the action is presented in isometric 3D, the ground area actually being made up of a network of tiles, and this system works very well. This is not an action game however, and you do not play in real time. Instead each of your team has a number of action points which you can expend during a turn to perform various actions. When these are used up the relevant soldier must stop what he's doing (even if he's just pulled the pin from a grenade) and wait for the next turn (or, in the case of the grenade, the afterlife). The wise player will leave some points in reserve though, enabling their soldier to make an “opportunity move” during the enemy's turn, which means being able to respond to threats as soon as they appear rather than helplessly watching while an enemy soldier emptys his magazine into your chest. On the main screen, underneath the 3D isometric display are two rows of icons used to control your team. These include the obvious controls like movement, dropping and collecting items, throwing grenades, taking an aimed shot at somebody or a snapshot, which is less accurate but uses less action points and has nothing to do with amateur photography. In addition to this there is a mapping device that shows a ‘blue-print’ of the area, be careful though, as scrolling around on it will consume action points at an fearsome rate. Next to these control icons is a compass like device, with 8 direction arrows. Clicking on one of the arrows will turn your soldier in this direction, or if he is already facing that way, advance him one tile’. Additionally, if your soldier sees somebody, the arrow that points in the relevant direction will turn red, or blue if he simply hears something. It is worth mentioning that the ECS version of the game only had the ‘compass’method for movement which in all fairness is rather more fiddly than the 'click on the tile you want to walk to' approach featured in the AGA version. The sound is generally good with various spot effects doing their job as well as an atmospheric music track that can be turned off. Although it isn't documented the game has an almost RPG element in that the various soldiers each receive points for killing enemies and rescuing hostages. After your mission these points can increase the amount of action points that particular soldier has available in future missions. Sabre Team is an enjoyable game to play concentrating as it does on the tactics of a small infantry team, albeit a special forces one. Reasonably enough the player that keeps the principle of mutual support in mind and forsakes the Rambo impulses, from which we all occasionally suffer, will be rewarded. The ‘game is well named, as good teamwork is the key to success. The presentation is of a high standard and although the five missions included are the same as those in the original version, nobody could say that Krisalis haven't made a worthy effort in improving the look and sound of the game for the AGA Amigas. The irony is that while Krisalis 'borrowed' much of the game's approach from the Gollop brother's classic Laser Squad, those same Gollop brothers apparently took revenge in 1994, the same year Sabre Team AGA appeared, by borrowing much of the look and feel of Sabre Team for their highly successful UFO: Enemy Unknown title. In comparison UFO is most certainly a worthy successor to 3D isometric combat games, offering deeper gameplay, more features and a great dealmore besides. There are people though who will prefer the down to earth approach of Sabre Team with its immediately accessible real life scenarios, and complete lack of resource management, research projects and annual budgets.