Those of you who like to keep abreast of developments in the computing world in general -and not just what's happening on the Amiga - might just remember a couple of Archimedes games that appeared a while ago: Zarch and Conqueror. Zarch has been available on the Amiga for some while under the pseudonym Virus and now here's Amiga Conqueror.
It's a tank wargame simulation for one player that comprises three games. Just like in Virus, the player has a limited view of the total game area when actually controlling a tank, but can see the whole game map simply by hitting a key. In fact the game uses the very same landscaping routines that were first developed by David 'Elite' Braben for Virus.
Before starting a game you have to decide whether you wish to control American, German or Russian World War II tanks and who you'd like to fight against - it'll always be Germans vs either Russians or Americans, but never Russians vs Americans since they were allies during the war.
You also have to decide which control method you'd like to use, and here's where you can get a friend in on the action. To play you'll have to both drive the tank and fire at enemies, so you can do both yourself or choose to let the computer (or a friend) take over one task while you concentrate on the other. For example, you can drive the tank from the keyboard and use the mouse to control the turret, or you can use two joysticks, either to just drive and leave the firing to the computer, or use them both to drive and fire. Either way, controlling the thing is going to be pretty tough at first.
The three games are arcade, attrition and strategy. In the arcade game you have three lives, start with the lightest tank and have to fend off wave after wave of enemy light tanks, scoring points for every tank killed. After a few kills you move on to a medium tank, as does the enemy, and if you're still alive after a few more kills you move into a heavy tank and just keep going for as long as possible, always outnumbered by enemy heavy tanks.
The attrition game is a mix of strategy and arcade where you start with a selection of tanks (one light, two medium and one heavy) and the computer starts with an inferior selection. The idea is to fend off the enemy waves for as long as possible - once you lose a tank, it's gone for good. Obviously you only control one tank at a time directly, but you can give your other tanks orders simply by selecting them on the map screen and putting a destination cross somewhere on the map. The remote-controlled tank will then head for the cross and will either stay there or pick a new destination depending on whether you select auto or manual strategy from the map page. The last tank you position on the map screen will be the one you're controlling on the action screen.
In the strategy game you buy whichever tanks you can afford from your points (up to a maximum of 16). At first you only have a few points so you can only afford a couple of light tanks (generally, the heavier the tank the more firepower it has and consequently the more it costs). Then you place your tanks at the bottom of the playing area white the computer places his at the top: the idea of the game is to control a randomly-designated area of the map, so you must allow no enemy tanks to enter the area, for a period of one minute. Every time an enemy tank enters the area the clock stops and will only restart once the enemy tank has been destroyed or left the area.
Winning involves either holding the ground for a minute or wiping out all the opposition for that mission. Bonus points are awarded for knocking out the enemy and for completing the mission and these points can then be spent at the start of the next mission on more, better and bigger tanks.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Everything is well animated and smooth too. The tanks are a bit blocky, but at least they look like tanks. The landscaping, although not original, works extremely well and you really get the feeling you're trundling over a real landscape. Nice touches include the track marks that gradually fade and the smoking hulls of knocked-out tanks. The sound is not so impressive being limited to some high pitched explosions and chugging engines. Looks excellent and sounds all right.
Getting to grips with the control is the first priority and once you've done that it'll take you a while to learn just how to survive in a tank with inferior fire power to your enemies. After that you'll be playing it for hours at a time and as often as you can.
A corking game that's very playable and surprisingly addictive. It's also very tactical at times and will appeal to everyone who likes a good blast but also likes to think they can master a situation by good tactical planning as well. A first-class game that's going to have you begging for a follow-up.
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