D-Day: The Beginning of the End logo

It the first casualty of war is innocence, then the first casualty of poor wargames must be patience. The initial test of your tetchiness comes when you're confronted with the tortuous terrain of the manual layout. Many wargames of this depth and complexity offer a quick-start tutorial. It familiarises you with the controls and quickly introduces you to the potential of the game - making the learning curve easier to climb.

The only thing is, D-Day's tutorial is the equivalent of "humping the boonies" for 10 miles or 100 degrees fahrenheit with no water. I'm not joking either.

It's even a difficult task working out just why the tutorial is so unhelpful. It may be that the game's user interface is just so unhelpful. There are loads of little buttons to press, but unfortunately, there's no visual or aural feedback informing you that you've actually pressed the button, or that the button press has registered with the Amiga.

Buttons like this should indent when they're clicked on - in gaming terms and user terms, it's good manners. Something that most gamers expect nowadays. Consequently, every time you play D-Day, it feels as if the programmers are being rude to you which is unsettling and ever so slightly distressing.

But no, the main reason for the tutorial's unhelpfulness is the way it's written and presented - no pictures, illustrations or diagrams. Learning curve times could have been drastically cut with the inclusion of at least a few cursory pictographs.

The game doesn't play that well either. It starts just as the landings are about to proceed. Control of the armies is by individual unit (divisions) and there is no opportunity to move divisions en masse, which is a shame.

Much of your time is spent tediously shuffling individual ground units around. Sure, productive use of all this movement can give the game a strategic edge, but so much time is spent doing this that you end up not caring what becomes of the units - just so long as you get them on to the beaches and marching eastward. Some sort of macro command would have been appreciated.

Individual battles are taken care of y the familiar (to some anyway) Micro Miniatures combat sequences. Take a look at some of the screenshots on the page to obtain a better idea of what they look like.

The Micro Miniatures help the gamer fight battles at an almost individual level. Like the rest of the game, the user interface is clumsy. But this part of the game is the most enjoyable, if only because you can split up units and try out manoeuvres.

If you're a die-hard, committed wargamer you may like D-Day - there's hours and hours worth of play tucked away in here. Anyone else should give it a miss.

D-Day: The Beginning of the End logo

Wunder über Wunder: Nach Jahren fruchtlosen Übens hat es Impressions tatsächlich geschafft, ein rundum funktiononsfähiges Kriegs-Strategical aus dem Sandkastenboden zu stampfen!

Noch dazu gehört das rare Stück zur "Strategic Wargame"-Reihe, in der bisher solche Gurken wie "Rorke's Drift" erschienen sind. Doch das Spiel zum Jubiläum der Landung der Alliierten inder Normandie anno 44 wird mit diesem schweren Erbe erstaunlich gut fertig:

Wie von den Vorgängern gewohnt, bewegen ein oder zwei Feldherren ihre Panzer, Infanteristen etc. runden-weise und icongesteuert über die Europakarte. Dabei müssen sie vor allem strategisch wichtige Geländepunkte erobern bzw. halten und unterdessen ihre Nachschublinien und die verbleibenden Aktionspunkte im Auge behalten.

Ganz ohne Kämpfe geht die historische Großtat natürlich nicht ab; dann wird auf einen Extrascreen umgeschaltet, wo man wahlweise ganze Abteilungen oder jeden Landser einzeln im Point & Click-Verfahren kommandiert.
Alternative dazu kann man aber auch den Rechner das Ergebnis auswürfeln lassen.

Und kennt man die drei Szenarien und die komplette Kampagne irgendwann in- und auswendig, so darf die geschichtlich verbürgte Ausgangssituation des Feldzugs auch abgeändert werden.

Technisch ist eine nicht übermäßig aufregende Optik à la "The Blue and the Gray" zu vermelden; dazu gibt's trötende Marschmusik, krachende Kanonen und eine einwandfreie Maussteuerung.

Auch wurden die Mängel der Vorgänger gründlich ausgemerzt (die CPU verrechnet sich z.B. nicht mehr andauernd), und manch kleine Deisgnänderung wie etwa die nun direkt anwählbaren Einheiten macht sich positiv bemerkbar.

Damit ist D-Day zwar immer noch kein Knüller, aber doch ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung. (mic)

D-Day: The Beginning of the End logo

End of what? The beginning? Of what?

As I write, everyone at AMIGA POWER is thoroughly sick and tired of D-Day, having been subjected to weeks of non-stop TV coverage showing dreary ol - ("Heroic saviours of democracy" - Nervous AP Legal Advisor) standing around on beaches talking to Raymond Baxter.

(Scene: The beach. Seagulls skim across the waves that lap gently at the shore, and a light breeze blows fluffy clouds across the sky.)

Raymond Baxter (with hands in pockets): It is incredible to think that, fifty years ago today, this peaceful beach in Normandy was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War 2. Although it was raining, then, of course, and dark. Giles - you were there. What was it really like? What were you feeling as you scrambled from the icy water, with enemy mortars landing all around you?

Major Giles Bradshaw, DSM (rtd) (also with hands in pockets): I was frightened, Raymond. Our brigade was one of the first ashore, but Jerry was expecting us. Nobby went down while we were still in the water.

I tried to pull him up onto the beach, but I lost him in the smoke. Our orders were to regroup a short distance up the beach, behind a large sand dune, but we couldn't find it in the dark. Dick, Whiffy and I got separated from the rest, so we decided to try to meet them further up the beach.

There were shells landing everywhere - they'd obviously trained the heavy artillery on us - and we could only see a few feet through the smoke. Above us we could hear the Hurricanes flying up and down the beach, but they didn't seem sure who to shoot at. Then we walked straight into a German machine guns nest.

Raymond Baxter: You must have been very frightened.

Major Bradshaw: We were, although I think Jerry was more surprised than us. There were three of them, and luckily we had our revolvers ready. They hit Whiffy, though, in the shoulder. We didn't know whether to stay with him, or leave him and hope somebody found him.

Raymond Baxter: What did you do?

Major Bradshaw: Dick stayed with him in the end, and I went on with the equipment. I never saw either of them again. I met with the rest of the group, and we pressed on into Caen.

Raymond Baxter: So what are you feeling today, fifty years on etc..

Behind a large sand dune

(Scene: An area of brown, in between an area of blue and an area of green. There is silence.)

Raymond Baxter (with hands in pockets): It is incredible to think that this is supposed to be a beach in Normandy which, fifty years ago, was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War 2. Small green square - you were there. What was it really like? What were you feeling as you moved jerkily from the blue area to the brown one?

Small green square: I felt nothing. I moved silently into the brown area, accompanied by several other small green squares. It was broad daylight. We moved towards some grey squares and they vanished. Some numbers appeared.

Raymond Baxter: You must have been very frightened.

Major Bradshaw: What, of the small grey squares? Or the numbers?

Raymond Baxter: Um.

D-Day is a relentlessly dull game. It's almost as if wants you to go away and leave it alone. The control system is sluggish and unfriendly, with fiddly little buttons that you sometimes have to click on loads of times before they work. (Why don't they just use the ordinary Amiga windows/icons/menu system, rather than writing their own, crappier version?)

The graphics are the worst I've seen in any wargame - just minute squares with letters in. (Why, out of all the colours they could have made the allied squares, did they pick green, making them virtually invisible against the green background?)

It's incredibly tedious having to individually select each unit on the map and tell it what you want it to do, again and again. (Why, incidentally, does the game start after all the D-Day planning has been done, with all the units poised to land in Normandy, leaving you with the relatively straightforward task of pushing towards Berlin? Surely the point of a strategy game called 'D-Day' should be to plan D-Day yourself.) And the optional Micro Miniatures screen, which gives close-ups of battles allowing you to control them directly, is really quite awful.

D-Day gets a reasonable number of marks simply to deter vociferous wargame enthusiasts from writing in complaining that this is exactly what they've always dreamed of and how dare we criticise the graphics when it's obviously the accurate regimental data that really matters etc.

But ordinary readers are likely to find even thirty seconds of this teeth-gritting experi9ence more than their patience can bear.

D-Day: The Beginning of the End logo

"Who do you think you are kidding Mister Hitler?" sings Matt Broughton in his best Captain Mainwaring voice.

At the end of 1941, the Third Reich was at the peak of its powers. Hitler's greatest fear, though, was that a second front would be opened in Western Europe before he could completely subjugate the Russians. To prevent this he announced that he would be fortifying all 2,400 miles of the western coastline. And fortify he most certainly did, in fact we're talking fortification on an almost fortificatious scale. (GET ON WITH IT! - Ed).

Anyway, Hitler used slave labour consisting of conscript Frenchmen, and workers shipped in from every conquered nation to build pillboxes, guns of every size, millions of mines, and a stunning array of beach obstacles including small children, ice cream vans, and drawing pins (are you sure about that last one? - Ed.).

This Atlantic wall presented defiance to any who might think to challenge the Reich from the sea, but two and a half years later, the mightiest military force ever assembled for a single operation would do so. It was called Operation Overlord, it happened in a place called Normandy, and it was fuelled by millions of cans of Spam.

And that is what this game is all about: you've got an entire Allied army with infantry, landing craft, artillery, tanks, and you can put them just about whenever you blummin' will fancy!

Okay, first things first, let's just take a quick wade through the 'impressive' packaging that we've become accustomed to with strategy games such as D-Day...

We're not talking one manual, we're not talking two, we're not even talking three manuals ladies and gentlemen - we are, in fact, looking at some four manuals, each between 44 and 57 pages each, covering Technical Supplement and Tutorial, Micro-Miniatures Battles.

Campaigns, not to mention a paltry 49-pager giving a complete historical lesson on the real Operation Overlord. In fact, reading these manuals should be called Operation Overload - most potential D-Day players will feel as though they've just re-sat their A levels!

Said manuals are actually very well written and quite interesting, but if you're a lazy so-and-so like myself, a read of the quick start guide and a scan through the rest will soon leave you fit and ready to take on the evil Führer.

The game plays in one of two ways; with you either acting purely as a campaign manager, directing your forces from above and never getting your hand dirty, or you can make use of the aforementioned Micro-Miniatures system, actually moving individual units around the battle zones and taking part in each battle. Should you choose to let the computer play the battles, you just watch while Captain America calculates the losses based upon the available statistics.

The game is played in a number of turns, with you programming the moves and actions required, and then setting the game into action, sitting back and watching the outcome.

As is the norm in strategy games of the 'board' variety, each unit has a number of movement points, as well as a morale rating, which must be taken into consideration when issuing orders if you expect compliance.

Further difficulty levels within the game include such elements as commander personalities affecting whether your generals follow their own plans instead of yours, as well as turning supplies and certain information on or off.

The semi-window driven interface does its job quite nicely, and though not exactly offering the most attractive displays ever, certainly delivers the goods as far as statistical information goes. The speed of the game can be altered to suit your needs, but to be honest, after the first hour or so, you don't really appear to be making much progress. It's not that you're doing badly, it's just that you always seem to be about level with the Hun until something dramatic happens.

This is also the sort of game where you need to be able to remember where all of your units are, and why you've put them there, there's nothing more frustrating than coming out of a long battle, looking at the map and forgetting what strategy you were about to employ.

Most of the play in D-Day is based around you making the best use of your given forces, and it doesn't take long to get the hang of things, but I can't pretend I was ever on the edge of my seat.

So what can I say in summary? Well, it's very clever and no mistakin', but whether it'll have you up all hours imagining the sound of panzer tracks in the still night air, I don't know.