In Chris Crawford's Cold War classic Balance of Power, the nations of the world become chits in a game of thermonuclear poker played by the U.S. president and the Secretary General of the U.S.S.R. Over the period of 1986 to 1994, each side exploits civil wars around the world, sending military aid packages and even troops to tip the balance and gain influence. The catch is that you could start World War III depending on how severe your actions are. Whether you're just sending $10 million to South Korea, or 500,000 American troops into Iran, the other side will gamble its prestige by "questioning" your actions. Back off from a strong threat, and you might lose influence, but play a game of chicken and you could get nuked.
With not much to gain and a lot to lose, Command & Conquer this isn't. And Crawford's characteristic self-righteousness won't appeal to everyone. The famous "Game Over" screen starkly tells you there will be no animated graphics of flying bodies and mushroom clouds. "We do not reward failure," it says. The 1990 sequel factored in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The year is 1986. You take on the role of the US President or the Russian General Secretary. You have the full industrial capacity, covert forces, and military might of your country at your command. Your job? To make your country the world's most powerful and prestigious over the course of your eight years in office. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It would be if the other guy didn't have his finger poised over a red button that could wipe out the world!
You must use diplomacy, make treaties, issue risky, covert CIA or KGB actions, or riskier, direct military intervention to prop up third world countries or help their insurgents and win them to your governmental philosophy: Capitalism or Communism. The world is a big place... and the other guy could start a nuclear war over a country as tiny as Tunisia. This game is the ultimate Cold War simulation. Every action requires careful analysis and the ability to judge your opponent (computer or human) and his reaction. The game features 62 countries, each carefully researched with up to date (as of 1985) information regarding their government, demographics, resources, etc.
Balance of Power is among the first political simulation that emphasizes diplomacy and politics over outright aggression. When he first released this seminal game in 1984, Crawford single-handedly established the political simulation genre and left a lasting legacy on how to design good diplomatic models in a game that gives a nod to reality. You must use diplomacy, make treaties, issue risky, covert CIA or KGB actions, or riskier, direct military intervention to prop up 3rd world countries or help their insurgents and win them to your governmental philosophy: Capitalism or Communism. The game, not surprisingly, attracted many non-gamers to the field and inspired countless books on the subject. International cold war politics at its best!
People who downloaded Balance of Power (1985 edition) have also downloaded:
Balance of Power (1990 edition), Balance of The Planet, Battle of Britain (from TalonSoft), ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighters, Armored Fist, Capitalism, Air Bucks, B-17 Flying Fortress
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