M1 Tank Platoon II is one of the most challenging games I have ever played. It is not a game that you can just jump into without studying. The mammoth 280-page manual is the place to start, followed by the War College program. Even if you manage to make it through these two read-only phases of the game, you still are not ready for battle.
There are so many controls to learn in M1 Tank Platoon II that I actually felt like I had joined the military. Virtually every key on the standard Windows keyboard controls something in your tank and the developers still recommend that you use a joystick in addition to the keyboard. It is a good thing they give you three quick reference control charts in the package because getting lost is amazingly easy.
Graphically, M1 Tank Platoon II is amazing. The animation is so realistic that playing is almost like watching a movie. Peering through the gunner's sight is a breathtaking experience. The driver's point of view is slightly artificial but it is still quite good. The tank Commander's two vantage points are also well rendered.
The scenery and the motions of enemy vehicles are also great but not quite as good as the closer views of your own platoon. As odd as it may seem, things look better close up than they do far away. I realize this seems to hold true for most situations but some smaller (far away) graphics in M1 Tank Platoon II are not as good as they should be when compared with the brilliance of the close-up graphics.
If anything draws you into the game more than M1 Tank Platoon II's graphics, it has to be the sound. The clanks and bangs of loading shells, the roar of enemy aircraft flying overhead, the crackling sound of orders over the radio and the pat-pat-pat of machine gun fire are all amazingly realistic. If nothing else, this game sounds real.
The great audio and video presentations help make gameplay amazing. Spotting enemies, aiming at them and blowing them off the ground or out of the sky is exhilarating. War might be hell but it's great fun when you are in the comfort of your own home.
With all the controls to memorize, the game can be a bit tricky at first. It took me several plays before I realized how to call in air and ground reinforcements effectively. That little step improved my mission success rate immensely. I also found that you could move from tank to tank. Before that, I had simply been aborting missions if enemy fire damaged my tank and could no longer return fire. Reading the manual is very important in M1 Tank Platoon II. Unlike many other games, you cannot simply jump in and swim.
The developers at MicroProse have apparently taken great care to make this an accurate and realistic simulation. They have done a great job. M1 Tank Platoon II has given me a newly found respect for war simulations. If this game isn't in your library, you are definitely missing out.
Graphics: Superb visual presentation. Some smaller graphics are grainy but, overall, everything looks great.
Sound: The sound is amazingly realistic from the clanking of the shells to the crackling of the radio.
Enjoyment: Hard to get a handle on at first, this game becomes more fun with each new attempt.
Replay Value: As you learn more about the game, the more you want to play. Replay value is great because it is never the same game twice.
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