Battles in Time is QQP's latest offering to the combat simulation genre. The plot is simple enough: in the far future, man has eliminated the need for war. When Earth is faced with an alien threat that can only be countered by force, a leader has to be selected to command Earth's forces. Time gates to four distinct time frames have been built through which candidates are sent to test their resourcefulness and strategic abilities. As one of these candidates, how you do in these scenarios determines the size of the military forces you get to command against the alien invaders.
On this premise, you get to travel back in time to a wars in the year 2025, World War II, the Roman Empire, and prehistoric times. In addition, you will have to fight off three alien invasions. Battles in Time supports 1 to 4 players, with any combination of human and computer players on the same machine, or against the computer and one other human player via modem or a null-modem cable.
Gameplay is set in a turn-based system, giving you plenty of time to plan out your moves. Movement, in turn, uses a hex-based system. For those who dislike it, the hex frame overlay can be toggled on or off. Units can be moved on the battleground until they've used up their movement points. If two opposing units come in contact with one another, the game drops into combat mode, in which you control individual troops instead of the entire platoon. Personally, I found that fighting on this level soon got pretty tedious, and it stretched out the battles interminably. This is one of the few times I've appreciated the autoplay option. However, it is only at this level that you realize how important the composition of each unit is. Depending on the era, you can put together units made of brontosaurs, balistas, cavalry, archers, tanks, mortars, or hover tanks. Each piece has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, chain guns work well against grav pads, but they're ineffective against gunships. Putting together effective units takes skill and practice.
One aspect of Battles in Time that distinguishes it from most other combat simulation games is the way in which success is measured. There are no set objectives. Instead, you're scored on how well you perform in a certain amount of rounds. Points are gained by destroying opponents forces and the value of all the cities you occupy. The winner is the one with the most points at the end of the turn limit for the time frame in which you're playing.
The CD-Rom installation of this DOS-based game went by without a hitch. The setup program was simple and effective. Unfortunately, this also describes the graphics, sound effects, and music. The graphics are typical combat strategy fare. The terrain is interesting and doesn't obscure the units, which in turn are represented as either icons or symbols. Animation is kept to a minimum, and is mainly used for troop movement. If nothing else, sound effects will tell you whether an archer or a tank has just attacked. They're dull and soon become repetitive, but don't really get annoying, unlike the music. After an hour of the same midi soundtrack played over and over again, I had to switch it off. It also took me a while to get used to the interface. I think all but the most seasoned veterans of strategy games would have to read the manual to get very far the first time around.
All in all, I'd say that Battles in Time will attract those who already love the strategy genre. Those who have not tried combat simulations before might want to try others first. The AI is good, but the plot behind it calls for a true multiplayer game. The final battle with aliens is meant to be fought in cooperation with the other candidates you went back in time with. I cannot imagine playing with three other people at the same computer, and the limitation of one human player with modem play is too confining. Finally, the time it takes to complete some scenarios is too daunting. If you don't enable any of the autoplay options, a single scenario could concievably take a good part of the day.
In the far future, humans no longer needed war. So when an alien threat approaches Earth, a test must be created for the prospective commanders... A timegate has been created into 4 past periods, where you must test your strategic skills, and when you pass all four tests, take your forces against the alien threat... The four periods are 2025, WW2, Roman Empire, and prehistoric. The turn-based movements are hex-based. You move the unit stacks. When two opposing stacks meet, you drop into tactical combat mode, where the individual units in the stack manuever on the smaller tactical map.
This abstract wargame, like The Pure Wargame after it, was obviously "rushed out the door" long before it was ready: the game was full of bugs, uninspiring gameplay, and incomprehensible lack of logistics (a dinosaur unit in the game causes as much damage as a 20th century howitzer!). Which is a shame, because the premise of the game is refreshing for a wargames: as potential leader of the earth's army against the aliens, you are sent back in time to fight famous historical battles to prove your worth. Recommended only for those who want a complete QQP collection :)
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Battleground: Ardennes, Battlemaster, Battleground 2: Gettysburg, Battles of Destiny, Battleground 3: Waterloo , Battleground 7: Bull Run, Besieger, BattleTech 2: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge
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