Steel Panthers is a wargame (turn-based strategy game) by Strategic Simulations, Inc (SSI). The game is set in World War II, where the player fights battles by controling tanks, infantry, and other war marchines on a battlefield divided into hexgonal units (hexes). The game was designed by Gary Grigsby, who is considered by many as one of the preminent wargame designers.
Steel Panthers has spawned a whole trilogy, of which the last release was Steel Panthers 3: Brigade Commands. There are many types of games that can be played, including campaigns that span the war, stand alone historical battles, what-if scenarios, random battles, and play by email (PBEM) battles. However, there is also a scenario editor that lets you create your own battles, designation the type and number of units present, creating the landscape, and choosing the game parameters for the player. There are tens of countries to choose from, each with accurate represenation of their arms. In addition, there are different units for the US Army and the US Marine Corps. Information about each country's arms can be found in the Encyclopedia, in addition to a picture of the real thing.
WWII... All the way from the initial attack by Germany on Poland to the allied/Soviet taking of Berlin. Here's your chance to go back in time and relive the biggest battles of the entire war. Not in the dugouts of France, or in the remnants of the city of Leningrad, but in the comfort of your home or office chair.
The initial setup of the game lets you choose to fight the battles of the Pacific, or the ones taking place in Europe. It also offers the intriguing prospect of playing as either side, so if you want to find out how it might have gone, this is a definite possibility. This also gives the game a completely new level of replayability, as the missions and forces will look completely different depending on which side you choose. This fact takes us to the point where the game really racks up some nice points: The detail level of the armies. Before a mission starts, you have a number of points which you use to buy units. They range from foot-infantry, mounted cavalry, snipers and engineers to armored trucks, tanks, support aircrafts and naval bombard units.
Every unit has it's own unique benefit and disadvantage, combining them all is the key to success. Shooting rifle rounds at a tank is highly ineffective, but mining an area ahead of the tanks arrival or bombarding it using a mortar will do the business. Likewise, the tanks can be cumbersome and easily picked out with artillery. All the armor strengths and attack capabilities of the units are clearly stated during the buying phase. And from a laymans point-of-view, all units seem to be rather accurately described.
As far as the gameplay's concerned, it's a standard turn-based strategy-game, with the added bonus of an often overlooked aspect - if you want an airstrike, or to bombard an area with a mortar or battleship, you need to plan ahead. It will take a set number of turns before the strike element can be utilized, so you need to foresee the enemies next move. Either that, or just bomb half the map to oblivion before your troops get anywhere near the enemy...
The steep learning curve of this game is the downside of it. There are so many tactical commands and military words that you might get have some real trouble with at the beginning. But if you overcome this, you'll start to see this great game for what it really is: A true classic!
I've been having some trouble running the sound in Dosbox, but it works under a true DOS enviroment.
One of the best wargames ever made, period. Since Darren Ingram's review of this masterpiece for CDMag is much more well-informed than mine could ever be, I would like to quote it verbatim here:
"Sure, there are other companies out there who can make a realistic simulation, but no one puts it all together like the designers at SSI do. Steel Panthers, their newest release, is not only fun, but it's realistic without becoming overwhelming, and the graphics are gorgeous. Accurate war sims are often none-too-attractive if not downright ugly, and usually look like a boardgame with cardboard-playing pieces. But SSI has taken a first-rate gaming engine for Steel Panthers and surrounded it by layers and layers of gorgeous SVGA graphics and great sound effects.
This is basically a move and shoot turn-based game with an extremely small learning curve. It's possible for a new player to start playing a scenario almost immediately upon loading the game, but there's enough depth to keep learning new things every time you play.
Each scenario lasts a certain number of turns, and points are awarded to each side for accomplishing things like death, destruction and conquest. But the side with the most points is not necessarily considered the winner. If an army wins a scenario by a margin less than 2 to 1, then neither side will be considered the winner. If one army wins by a margin of ten to one then they're considered victors by a decisive margin, and anything in between is just a marginal victory. So not only do you have to win, you have to win big.
The terrain is absolutely beautiful and units are very sharp and detailed. When a tank blows up, it sits there and burns, which is a particularly nice effect after you destroy an enemy column. When a building is blown up it burns as well, and when a large battle takes place, the battlefield is left in smoking, potholed ruins. For some reason, the airplanes don't quite live up to this graphic standard, popping from hex to hex instead of moving smoothly.
Ironically, the biggest flaw in Steel Panthers isn't even in the game itself. The included manual is not organized well at all, there's no index to help find subjects easily, and they had to append a nine-page readme file on the CD to cover all of the stuff that was either wrong or left out.
When you get tired of playing the same pre-packaged scenarios, the random map generator quickly whips up a map within a set of parameters that the player sets up. And for those who really get into their wargaming, the map editor lets the player create their own map and battles, so the designers have made sure that the player gets the maximum replayability out of this game.
Steel Panthers is one of those war sims that will appeal to anyone who likes a good strategy game, not just to history grognards. It may not be the most sophisticated game on W.W.II ever devised, but who gives a rip? I haven't been addicted to a game like this in a long time." If you are a diehard wargamer or a casual strategy gamer with an interest in tactical-level wargames, Steel Panthers is a must-have.
Another turnbased strategy game played during WW II. Play with your infantry, tanks, ships etc. The playfield consist of many hexagonal pieces on which you can move. In this game you can play real historical scenes, but you can also play against your friend over email. Furthermore, you can make your own scenery with the editorial which is built in the game.
People who downloaded Steel Panthers have also downloaded:
Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles, Steel Panthers 3: Brigade Command (1939-1999), Panzer General 2, Pacific General, Civil War Generals 2, People's General (a.k.a. Dynasty General), Third Reich, Panzer General for Windows 95
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