Another in the continuing series of war games fostered by SSI, Conflict: Middle East concentrates on an area previously only touched on by games in the genre. Specifically, the ongoing tumultuous conflict between Israel and the Arab states sets the scene for this narrowly focused look at the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In a genuinely innovative move, the designers also include a "what if" scenario that presupposes an early 1990's full blown attack by the Arabs in an attempt to eliminate the Israelis. The game is a solid effort in many areas and provides experienced gamers with a challenging test of strategic planning and theater command skills. Novice war gamers would be advised to put this one on hold until they've had time to work up a solid understanding of turn-based, hex-based war games and can sort out the intricacies and overwhelming potential of excruciatingly detailed and complex scenarios. If nothing else, Conflict: Middle East requires, at a minimum, veteran war gamers to plumb the depths of game play.
SSI has reworked the once troublesome interface and game play moves smoothly and easily from point to point. Order of Battle considerations are extremely rigid and consist of a sequential format wherein Arab and Israeli orders are issued (in that order) followed by implementation of operational air movement. Engagement of ground combat is then addressed and the sequence ends after a computer assisted supply analysis and combat resolution. In very realistic terms, external events can play a large part in the execution of any phase as weather, political decisions and availability of supplies all loom large in the stability equation for the game. Even expert war gamers may find themselves playing a few turns at the lowest of six levels of difficulty (pushover) to get a feel for how game play develops. There are aspects of theater command that can be assigned to the computer and the AI is sharp enough to handle most situations, although it's a bit dogmatic at times.
The strategic element inherent to successful play of Conflict: Middle East is strongly emphasized as any prolonged time investment reveals. The game still suffers from an earlier SSI design decision which unintentionally (assumed) muddies the water a bit in the area of reporting specific turn results in terms of actual hardware and casualty numbers. In addition to the nicely tuned interface this time around, the graphics in the game are remarkably bright and attractive for a hex-based war game. Maps are very clearly defined and the standard war icons are distinct and easy to recognize. Campaigns are conducted by controlling units ranging in size from squadron to brigade level. Most victory conditions are based on terrain acquisition and the ability to hold on to it (nothing new there) with options to control the level of outside influences (which may alter the victory requirements). Conflict: Middle East is a keeper in the ever growing library of computer war gaming.
Graphics: More vivid than normally seen in hex-based war games. Attractive and easily recognizable.
Sound: Not a major focus in the game.
Enjoyment: The depth of game play really allows the player to get involved in a serious look at a serious conflict.
Replay Value: Replay value will be completely dependent upon the user's level of interest in the conflicts of the Middle East. Enough options are available to warrant some replay but the game does have a very specific focus.
Conflict: Middle East is a detailed wargame/simulation of the Arab/Israeli Wars from 1973 until the present (1991). The action is historical and hypothetical. You can fight the entire 1973 Arab/Israeli conflict on an operational level as the Israelis or take on the more daunting task of the Arab forces. Choose the hypothetical 1990's scenario for modern day desert warfare. The game is fought at the Brigade/Division level where you will control every detail of land and air war down to the individual infantry squads, vehicles and gun tubes. You must also keep track of weather, supplies, and politics as they will impact many of your options.
"A serious simulation of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and a future Arab-Israeli War, this product was very detailed. Mouse implementation is is much easier than the designer's last design (Red Lightning), but it still required much time and thought. Recommended for the serious aficionado."
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