Several bridges too far

Battle Valley logo

NUCLEAR missiles are rather annoying: all they ever seem to do is cost a lot of money. I mean, you could use a pair of them as clothes poles, tomato supports or post-modernist garden ornaments.
That's what happened in Battle Valley. The local terrorist commune simply couldn't get their fatigues the kind of greenish khaki that they liked. What they needed was a proper drying facility, and since the nearby nuke base was being dismantled, they borrowed a couple of medium-rangers for the back lawn.

They weren't any use - the rope kept slipping off the nose cones - so they had to find a new use for them. They hit on the ingenious idea of holding the western world to ransom. Since all the other nukes had gone, they had some bargaining power.
This is Not On: apart from the fact that it's not sporting, there'd be zilcho game otherwise. In their usual way, the Pentagon can't handle it, so they call in a mercenary - you.

You've got to destroy all the terrorist bases and get the missiles into as many pieces as a tank shell can render. You've got a helicopter to do the ground work and a tank to do the rest. Slightly unconventional, true, but it seems to work.
So you fly along, taking out anything which could harm the tank, and winching in new bridge sections to allow the tank to cross the rivers.

The chopper's missiles make short work of the gun emplacements and SAM launchers, but have no effect on the outposts. That's why you must use the tank. Otherwise it would be a Silkworm clone. Except Silkworm doesn't have a narrowed down screen - Battle Valley does.
It isn't plain sailing in the tank. Some surface installations are too hidden for the helicopter to get so they need a little working over before they see the merit in exploding.

The terrorists have thoughtfully left piles of ammo just where a careful pilot or driver might find them - how fortuitous.
It's not that straightforward, though. You have to use the winch from the helicopter or a complex crane arrangement from the tank. It can prove a little difficult. It's much easier just to crash and restart, with full ammo, but with 500 seconds less.

Battle Valley was originally a budget release on the older machine, and to say that you can tell is a bit cruel. Multi-layer scenery scroll, with very fine detail and good perspective, doesn't come cheap. Nor does well planned and executed sound effects and a bearable tune, even though the latter started life on the C64's SID.

It's just that the gameplay is missing the elusive spark that is so rare at the £2.99 price point. But if we splash out £20 on a game we want - unless we're on a tax loss binge - a bit of lasting enjoyment, or at least a high that no volume of black coffee could ever produce. Well, maybe not, but hopefully you get the idea.

Hewson could have done us all a favour and converted Anarchy its other famous budget game, which didn't have graphics, but did have captivating gameplay. Battle Valley isn't actually bad; it's quite clever inside, but dull on the outside, and consequently unremarkable.

Battle Valley logo

Nein, immer diese Terroristen! Nun haben sich die Supermächte endlich zusammengerauft und verschrotten brüderlich Eintracht ihre ganzen Mittelstreckenraketen - da klauen sich diese unerzogenen Knaben einfach zwei von den Dingern, um damit ihre Freunde aus dem Gefängnis freizupressen!

Das wäre also die Ausgangsposition für den Spieler von Battle Valley. Der hat jetzt natürlich die undankbare Aufgabe, die Terroristenbasen samt Raketen zu zerstören. Dazu stehen ihm ein Panzer und ein Hubschrauber zur Verfügung, die er beide benötigt, um seinen Auftrag zu erfüllen: Brücken etwa sind die Domäne des Hubschraubers, den Panzer braucht man dagegen, um Raketensilos niederzumachen. Die Munition ist knapp, kann aber immer wieder im Lager aufgefüllt werden.

Das war bereits der ganze Spielinhalt, schreiten wir also zur Bewertung: Battle Valley ist sauber programmiert, die Grafik nicht schlecht, die Musik sogar hervorragend (die FX sind dafür sehr bescheiden).

Leider läßt der Spielwitz arg zu wünschen übrig. Eine Weile läßt man sich fesseln, aber auf die Dauer wird der ganze Feuerzauber doch recht eintönig. Und für das, was geboten wird, ist der Preis zu üppig ausgefallen: Das Spiel kam bereits vor einiger Zeit als C 64-Version heraus - für ganze zehn Mark! Von einem solcherart angemessenen Preis/Leistungsverhältnis kann man da im vorliegenden Fall leider nicht mehr sprechen. Für 20 - 30 Mark wär's ein echter Hit gewesen, aber so? (mm)

Battle Valley logo


On first impressions, Battle Valley looks an awful lot like that CU fave shoot-'em-up Silkworm; on closer inspection, however, the game itself is nothing of the sort. For a start, there's no two player mode, you choose between 'copter and tank. The game then directs you to embark on your mission to destroy one of the two missile bases which apparently lie at the end of the craggy, Scramble-style backdrop.

There are a number of broken bridges that the tank can't traverse unless the 'copter collects a pontoon and drops it into place. So, off we go in the bulky square to reek havoc upon the enemy. Unfortunately, this is not a nippy flying machine by anyone's standards - in fact, it's more of an armour plated autogyro.

Almost inevitably you find yourself blasted out of the sky, but that seems to be part of the gameplan in Battle Valley. If you don't get blown up, you don't get to use the tank, which is essential for removing some of the trickier obstacles. As the armoured vehicle lumbers from its garage like an F-Reg Skoda on a February morning, one thing becomes immediately transparent - if you are any good at this game at all, you will have destroyed a large number of obstacles and be left with a drive over a desolate, empty and very, very boring landscape. You can remedy this in part by hitting the F1 key, but keyboard commands can be very tricky when it comes to slowing down in time when the enemy do decide to appear.

Battle Valley is a strange sort of collaborative game. Two steps forward with the 'copter, then one step with the tank. What develops is a mild pace campaign with only a small amount of skill involved. Don't buy this expecting the usual visual blitzkrieg of a Hewson shoot- 'em-up. The game does have a few definite virtues, however, a different - if not entirely successful - gameplay which is nice to see and keeps the interest up for a reasonable amount of time. Fine graphics and a detailed scoring system. The refuelling stations along the way are a nice touch too, with the 'copter having to lower its winch to pick up supplies and ammo.

Overall, I can't help feeling that the grey installations and the slow speed of play make it a dour game to look at. An impression only compounded by the end screen - a mushroom cloud. All a bit depressing really. After an hour or two of Battle Valley, with it's phallo-centric armageddon overload, a game like New Zealand Story comes as a very welcome relief indeed.