D-Day logo

Does US Gold's mix and match war-game offer four sims for the price for one, or just a quarter the gameplay?

Operation Overlord was not single front battle. Bombing raids, paratroop drops and beach landings all combined to create a secure allied bridge-head in Europe. Fittingly, D-day is composed of the self-same elements, with some tank-on-tank action thrown in to spice things up.

As a collection of sub-games working through a tactical map, D-day has no real heart. For impact it relies solely on the power of four games. If these games had been brilliant D-day would have been too. But sadly they are not and the result is a stop/start campaign that is patchy in the extreme. The mix of 2D arcade games and 3D simulation fail to meet their objectives so D-day barely makes it to the beaches.

War huh!
The 2D arcade action sequences deal with the grunts and the paras. The infantry have to fight their way out of each landing zone and then storm across country doing all kinds of unpleasant things to tanks. The paras do not even get to fire a shot, content to just float down over a moonlit France looking for the signal fires those nice resistance people have started.

The infantry battles are fought on a man-by-man basis. A scrolling isometric map is displayed and by clicking commands you give the orders to individual soldiers. The four different troop types (medic, rifleman, grenadier and mortar) have to be used in concert to defeat the enemy. It is fun but lacks any tactical depth.

Once you have acquired an idea of each weapon's range, the only trick is moving your boys around without being shot. A weird mouse driver and some particularly dim troops do their best to make life tough, but the basics are easily mastered.

What is it good for?
The paratrooper drop suffers a similar simplistic fate. The split screen display focuses on a single trooper (at the top) and his relative position on the ground (at the bottom). Using glide left, glide right, float and plummet commands, you have to nudge him against prevailing winds on to a pre-prepared landing sight. If they miss they die at the hands of the enemy, while paratroopers whose 'chutes touch suffer a canopy collapse and fall from the sky.

The trick is getting a large number of floating folk to stay as far from each other as possible, until the moment they hit the same small patch of ground. Crosswinds and the introduction of huge numbers of paras inject an enjoyable chaos to proceedings, but they do not stop it feeling like a Lunar Lander clone where the engines have malfunctioned.

Of the two 3D modules, Tanks and Bombers, it is the AFVs that are the best. Once the beachheads have been established it is the armour that has to smash a hole in the German lines. Using viewpoints for every crew member, and a few outside perspectives, you have to guide squads of Sherman M4s so that they can beat up on Rommel's boys.

Controlling a number of tanks and switching between the required views, means life is hectic, but challenging. The 3D is not the best ever seen in Amigaland but it works; allowing you to conduct all-manner of armoured tomfoolery. Even the long waits between screens cannot dispel the tension and claustrophobia felt during the heat of battle.

Absolutely nothing!
Bombing is another tale entirely. Trailing along behind your B-17, the mission is to knockout enemy installations and forces. Here the sluggish 3D kills play stone dead. Your bomber meander around the sky hunting down the large green arrows that mark the targets. You just fly to them, open the bomb bay doors, miss hopelessly, circle around and repeat the process.

It may seem unfair to criticise a bomber simulation for being slow - the B-17 was not designed to be agile - but there is no spectacle to pull you in. There is nothing to encourage you to stick with the program long enough to learn its secrets.

Compilations of sub games need to be woven tightly together if they are to work well. D-Day tries its best. As the Operation Overlord campaign proceeds you watch the big picture unfold on the main game map.

From here you join specific battles, hoping to push the odds in your favour. Success in one area - say a paratrooper drop - allows you to force the invasion corridor a little wider, while failure can threaten the entire operation.

Say it again
Multiple sub-games should ensure a varied pace and challenge, but D-Day never attains the necessary balance. The 2D arcade sequences are too easily mastered and the 3D bombing runs, which are vital to the mission's success, are too dull to suffer for long. Which leaves the tanks as the only section you actually want to play.

Futura have worked D-Day hard. Excellent animation, digitised 'stills' and neat menus mean that it initially appears to be a polished package. It looks good and the first few forays into each of the four areas are fun. These games are all too small to meet the game's grand ambitions, though.

D-Day tries to be a multi-faceted operation that calls on a range of gaming skills, when in reality it is a collection of four combat games that range from mildly diverting to tediously dull.

D-Day logo

Mit der Landung der Alliierten in der Normandie am 6. Juni 1944 sammelte Loriciel bereits bei der Panzersimulation "Sherman M 4" Erfahrung - jetzt schicken die Franzosen zusätzlich noch Bomber, Fallschirmspringer und Infanteristen in die Schlacht.

Hier bekommt man also quasi vier Simulationen in einer, und einen Strategieteil obendrein. Aus historischen Gründen setzten wir uns als erstes in den Sherman M 4 - und fühlten uns sofort an den gleichnamigen Software-Oldy erinnert. Das ist vor allem auf die langsame Grafik und den wenig aufregenden Sound zurückzuführen, aber auch sachlich hat sich bis auf die Verbesserung einzelner Funktionen in den letzten zweieinhalb Jahren wenig getan.

Wie gehabt lieft der spielerische Schwerpunkt vor allem bei der (Invasions-) Aktion, wenn die deutsche Artillerie und die Panzersperren am Normandie-Strand überwunden werden müssen. Man kann das Kampfgebiet aber auch mit einer B-17 bombardieren, was leider eher einem Geschicklichkeitstest als einer echten Flugsimulation gleichkommt.

Außerdem sind weder die Handhabung noch die stark ruckelnde Optik sonderlich berauschend, obwohl draußen meist nur ein paar Häuschen a la "Afterburner" vorbeizucklen und alle Jubeljahre mal eine hübsche Brücke.

Nach dieser milden Enttäuschung wirkt der Infanterie-Teil fast wie eine Offenbarung: Er hat eine gewisse Ähnlichkeit mit "Airborne Ranger" und "Special Forces", wobei das kleine Männchen hier allerdings nicht per Stick, sondern indirekt über Icons in der Art von "Lemmings" gesteuert wird.

Dem Helden stehen drei verschiedene Waffensorten und ein Radar zur Verfügung, und wenn er keine Lust mehr hat, darf er auch Kaffeepause machen. Das Bindeglied zwischen Himmel und blutgetränkter Erde sind schließlich die Fallschirmspringer; jedoch wird es relativ schnell langweilig, den Jungs via Maus und Icons zu einer sicheren Landung auf den französischen Rübenfeldern zu verhelfen.

Hat man genug von den Einzelmissionen, geht es ans große Ganze - man sitzt als Oberbefehlshaber vor einer übersichtlichen, zoombaren Karte der Normandie und schickt seine Leute kreuz und quer durch die Gegend.

Dabei wird man nicht nur von einer Zeitraffer-Funktion, sondern auch noch von einem knappen Dutzend weiterer (Einstell-) Optionen unterstützt, die z.B. die Auswahl der kommandierten Einheiten, das Vorhandensein von Wind, den Realismus der Geschoß-Flugbahnen und die eingeblendeten Infos der diversen Truppenteile betreffen.

Während der Strategie-part also einen recht ordentlichen Eindruck hinterläßt, sieht es simulationstechnisch eher durchwachsen aus: Am besten schneiden die auch in puncto Steuerung überzeugenden Infanterie- und Panzerschlachten ab, der Luftkrieg ist dagegen ziemlich uninteressant.

Zum Ausgleich wurde der Packung gleich noch ein einstündiges (englisches) Video beigelegt, was den Preis allerdings auf stolze 129 Granaten hochschraubte... (mm)

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A wargame that's even less entertaining than the real thing?

I hate war. Not so much because of the needless waste of life and the tortuous hell that is endured in the name of an outmoded concept of nationalism that leads only to the immense psychological torment and inconsolable grief of a mourning populace, struck by the ultimate futility of it all amidst the senseless annihilation of the planet's inhabitants and resources, encroaching on our sceptred isles like a dark angel sowing the seeds of apocalyptic death over the once-fertile but now fallow land which bore our forefathers in their determined but ultimately tragic pilgrimage to the present day.

No, more because I used to dread double PE on a Wednesday afternoon, and I don't understand that the training in the army is similar, only infinitely worse. I've seen An Officer And A Gentleman. It's all about having to polish your boots every day, with any sign of weakness punished by absurd tortures, such as running around on the beach carrying a heavy log and constantly being sprayed with water by a Sergeant-Major who's really good at Kung Fu. By this point, going into battle seems like it would be a positive relief.

Less of a wargame, more of a bore game

Wargames, on the other hand, are a lot of fun. Or can be. I'm afraid that in the case of D-Day it's less of a wargame, more of a bore game (clever wording. I know. Cheers). It's a semi-authentic version of the actual occurrences during the real D-Day and consists of simulations of infantry, paratrooper, bomber and tank divisions.

You can take part in individual missions with each of the divisions, which is essential to start with, because each simulation has a completely different game engine and requires getting used to.

Once you're fully conversant with them, you can then take on Operation Overlord, which was the code-name chosen for the actual D-Day landings. This involves the computer throwing various scenarios at you, which you can choose to either cope with yourself using the appropriate simulation, or leave for the Amiga to sort out. As battles are won and lost your map of France is constantly updated to show the tide of the conflict.

Oh dear, I haven't go much space left, so I'll be brief. I don't like this game much. The bombing missions are second-rate flight sims, with a hopelessly inaccurate aiming capability. The paratrooper section is a laughable attempt to get your paratroopers in the correct position on the ground while they float down.

The tank and infantry sections are by far the best, but even they tend to lack excitement. It's also riddled with little irritations, like the unforgivable lack of support for a second disk drive (which, as it comes on four disks, is a bit of a problem).

Also, if you fail a mission you're not given an option to play it again, but get taken back to the main menu, from which you have to go through the whole rigmarole of wading through menus, swapping disks etc all over again. Sloppy. No. I'm sorry, this does nothing for me.

D-Day logo

When you talk about great military leaders you don't think of Mark Patterson. So why the hell is he in charge of the D-Day landings?

The game begins on the first day of the landings, June 6th 1944, and places you in the unenviable position of commander-in-chief. From this lofty office you oversee the entire operation, issuing orders to units and instigating aerial bombardments. As if this wasn't enough, the game also gives you the option of participating in individual battles.

D-Day is broken into five sections. The largest is a wargame, which places you in charge of the troop movements on the opening days of the conflict. In addition to this there are four action games that put you in control of paratroopers, infantry, tanks and a bomber. Obviously it would take ages to complete the game if you had to participate in every conflict, so you can be selective about which ones you involve yourself in. So that you can keep track of things, the game displays a list of all current conflicts, a feature that comes in handy when you're trying to rally troops for a charge.

The four sub-games are a mixture of action and strategy. The aim of paratroopers is to steer your intrepid troops safely to the ground without getting them shot or landing in trees. They can be moved left and right and sped up or slowed down to compensate for wind conditions. This section is reminiscent of one of the early 80s console games, with its flat graphics and linear gameplay.

The infantry game finds you in control of a platoon of troops ranging in size from one to 10. These are armed with rifles, grenades and mortars. They can be instructed to open fire or dash behind the various bits of cover. What makes this particularly difficult is that you can only issue orders to one soldier at a time, which means that you've got to hope that nothing will happen to the others while you're trying to guide individuals to safety.

The result is a game which comes across as a poor man's Laser Squad. If there were any awards for laughable graphics this part of the game would sweep the opposition aside. The sprites are tiny and there's minimal animation throughout.

Bomber takes the form of a pseudo flight-sim. Your shown an external view of your B-17 Bomber with your targets marked out in the distance. The aim is to line your bomber up with them, then hit fire at the right moment to deliver its payload. Again, is a very simple affair with few controls and almost no skill required.

Tank is the most enjoyable of the sub-games. As commander of a platoon of Sherman tanks you're ordered to blow up bridges, command posts and other tanks while trying to hold on to as many of your vehicles as possible. If you fancy some action you can take the machine gunner's or main gunner's seat. From this position you have to rely on the computer to do the driving, which it manages by taking the straightest route from A to B, which often incorporates buildings, trees and friendly tanks.

Before you attempt to invade Europe single-handed, it pays to try out the various training missions on offer. There are several of these and they break you into the conflict gently, pitting you against a paltry number of enemies.

If you feel that pulling off a successful landing is child's play, you can bring into play two options which almost double the challenge. The first is that the German army bring their Panzer reserves into the battle. In the real thing they held back the reserve forces, which proved a disastrous move. This means that as soon as you think you're getting the upper hand, several squadrons of tanks move in, usually with drastic consequences for your infantry.

The second option has Hitler waking up when the landings take place. History buffs will know that none of Hitler's staff had the bottle to wake him when they heard the landings were taking place. Activating this option greatly increases the intelligence of the German forces, as they now have their commander issuing orders.

In the manual the programmers claim to have spent three years developing this game. From the finished product I can only assume they spent 30 months watching old war movies. The four elements of this game are all shoddy to say the least. The parachuting can be categorised as no-action packed, with the format for guiding your daring paratroopers to safety being hideously dull.

The other three sections all have far superior individual counterparts. Tank, for example, is bettered by Team Yankee. Although the latter costs more and you don't get the other elements of D-Day or the historical side, its quality more than makes up for that.

Ultimately the game is boring. There's only so many times you can play each of the sub-games and, obviously, the wargame starts the same every time and there are only a few effective strategies to discover. There was so much more they could have done. For instance, the British division used a group of vehicles call 'funnies' during their landings. These were usually tanks or armoured cars adapted for mine clearing.

There's also the aspect of the problems the individual divisions faced. The American paratroopers which landed behind enemy lines got separated and suffered heavy losses. Events such as these leave plenty of scope for specific scenarios.

Throughout the game the graphics are a mish-mash of sprites and vectors. That said, the vector-based tank section is fast, while the bomber features some nice shadow effects and smooth animation.

To cap it all, the wargame side is also severely lacking. Instead of dealing with such aspects as supply, reinforcements and combining units, it's simply a matter of pointing the various platoons in the right direction.

The result is a game which doesn't really go anywhere. There isn't much depth or variety, and the lack of atmosphere strips away the historical interest. A very disappointing effort.


In the game, the B-17 bomber that you pilot isn't the most manoeuvrable thing on the planet. If you steer too far it's easy to stall the engines and end up on a one way trip to the ground. The game imposes a ceiling of 4000 feet on your flight, which is restricting, but fails in line with the simplistic nature of this section.

This is the toughest section of the game. Your intrepid foot soldiers face-off against tanks and fortified enemy emplacements as they attempt to liberate villages and break through hostile lines. The way to succeed in this section is get your troops under cover as soon as possible. Failure to do so will find them picked off by enemy snipers. Despite the different scenarios, the objective remains the same throughout - simply kill every enemy in the area.

Without a doubt the worst of the four games. There's little appeal in a game such as this where you're simply steering your guys to the ground. It does become tricky when the wind picks up and you have four or five men coming down at once, but if you keep an eye on their position it's relatively easy to get them to terra firma safely.

Driving through the countryside shooting up farm houses is great fun until you encounter an enemy unit. It only takes a near miss to damage a tank's tread so getting behind a tree or similar object is the order of the day. Once your vehicles are safely stowed it's just a matter of time before a lucky shot either way decides the outcome.