The M1A2 Abrams is the latest model of America's main battle tank, arguably the best tank in the world. In this simulation, you will have total control of this distinguished weapon. Meticulous attention was paid in bringing this sim to the Windows desktop. You may experience the vehicle from one of four vantage points, driver, gunner, tank commander buttoned (hatch closed), or tank commander unbuttoned (hatch opened). You may move freely among these positions within the tank, and a computer player will take over any position you leave unoccupied. You will have the opportunity to experience all of these aspects of tank operation, and also portray the company leader, giving orders throughout your battles. The battles themselves take place in three theaters of operation: the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and the Ukraine. In the latter you pit yourself against the best the former Soviet Union has to offer.
The game features a quick start option, throwing you into a quick battle to get you used to the action. You may opt to choose from an unlimited number of single missions where you select your theater, and the game creates a scenario for you. Finally, you may start a full campaign in any of the three theaters. You will never run out of battles in this game, every mission has so many options that to even try each one once will take you a very long time.
The graphics in the game are fantastic, the command positions are portrayed in meticulous detail, the terrain is very well-rendered, and the vehicles themselves look terrific. You have the ability to tweak every aspect of the graphics in the game options, so that you may find the exact level of performance for your computer. The sounds are also excellent, you will hear the rumblings of vehicles around you, the booming sounds of battle, and radio conversations from your company to name a few things.
The game also manages a small level of political correctness, I was pleasantly surprised when I chose an Apache attack helicopter to accompany me on a mission and recognized the pilot's voice as that of a female soldier. It's the little things that stand out, if you know what I mean. When configuring the game, you will find two pages of basic options and eleven pages of advanced options. This means you will have total control of your graphics options, levels of difficulty, choice of controller, and much more. This game is totally customizable in every way. If you have a faster computer, you may turn the graphics way up. If you are a beginner, you may turn the enemy level of experience way down, while turning up the ability of your company. If you have never played a military sim like this one before, there are many ways to alter the game to suit your needs. On the other hand, veterans of this genre will be able to alter the game to give yourself an incredible challenge. Players of all levels, and I do mean all levels of experience will be able to enjoy this game. Great pain was taken to ensure that this sim would be accessible to all.
Starting a mission or campaign is simple, you want to spend your time on the battlefield, not setting up your troops. Just choose a theater, select a mission type, hand-pick your accompanying units (only if you're a captain), and it's off to the fields. It's that simple. Unit selection is based on a point system, you have a number of points to spend, and a maximum number of vehicles allowed to accompany. Each unit has a point value and a number of vehicles in the unit. Spend your points, making sure you do not go over the number of vehicles allotted. You will have access to enemy intelligence (how good this information is is also an option), so that you may select your own units accordingly. On the battlefield, you will be directing the company as well as handling one or more of the four positions of your own M1A2. After each battle, your company is evaluated according to the outcome of the mission, and you may be decorated after doing especially well.
The game also includes video of the M1A2 for your informational indulgence. The video was provided by General Dynamics, the manufacturer of the tank. These videos will give you the lowdown on many of the tanks features, and explain how some of the systems work. I found this to be an excellent feature, rather than a tacked-on multimedia experience found in some games. This feature gave me a much greater understanding of the M1A2, and helped me in the game.
Multiplayer support is also included, you may go to war with your friends over a LAN IPX or TCP/IP network, or via modem or serial connection.
Overall, this is a really fantastic game, one of the best, if not the best of it's kind.
Bottom Line: Fantastic tank simulation, you may only control the M1A2, but that control is complete and highly detailed. So many configuration options, the game may be custom configured for anyone from beginners to veterans.
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