One world - it's a battleground

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DRAGON Force (Drastic Response Assault Group Operations Network) is a solitaire wargame that puts you in command of a small, special operations force set in the present day, with a variety of missions throughout the world. There are 14 members in your team and for each mission you command seven of them. During the missions some may be killed, they will not be replaced, so careful man management is paramount. Others may become prisoners of war, although they can be rescued later. You are given a selection of 12 missions played as a training scenario (so casualties taken will not be real, for example) or you can commit yourself to the real thing. After the mission selection, you receive a short on-screen briefing - time allotted, background and objectives of the assignment. Missions include rescuing hostages, disrupting and destroying an enemy camp and finding a downed helicopter pilot.

Each member of your force has a range of specialities including anti-tank, close combat, demolition, machine-gunner, medic, scout and sharpshooter. They also include a number of abilities or skills - awareness (helps to spot targets), intensity (help accuracy, sight objectives such as hostages, aids wound healing, etc), guts vitality (his general well-being), strength and luck. You can change the name and nationality of any member ofthe squad.

A positive aspect of the mission design is that role-playing aspects link missions toegether, each active man increasing his personal attributes after a mission and gaining possible promotions.

A detailed weapon selection screen is offered for each member's main load (primary weapon), secondary load (backup), and extra loads such as grenades or additional ammo. Each member has a number of "load points" determining the number and type of weapons carried. Each of the 20 weapons are rated for ammo, load points, range effects, hit chance and suppression effect. Some of the ratings given in the 36-page manual for each weapon appear to be rather wayward at first glance. And technical areas are not explained properly - deteriorating accuracy due to greater range is not mentioned, for example.

However, I've a feeling that more variables have been programmed into weapon performance than is noted because no noticeable design errors appeared to support the dubious manual figures - each weapon performing roughly as expected.

You start each mission on a look-down map display with differing terrain types which has been integrated with some realistic line-of-sight calculations, your team being assembled at a drop zone. Up to five orders van be given to each man per turn. They are many and varied including a Move To command, Carry Wounded, Fire At Will (combat includes a good variety of sound effects) and Heal.

You can interrupt the play at different levels - until an event occurs or until ordered by the player. The game ends when you are killed off, taken hostage or you call for a chopper to take you out. You can do this at any time.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Force, from Roger Damon, a man respected for his WW2 squad level game Field of Fire from American software house, Avalon Hill. His pedigree shines though in this Interstel release resulting in a classy (despite the appalling intro music) and challenging game that will keep you glued to your monitor. I would have liked to have seen a little more variation in mission locations and terrain. However, maybe we will see this in one of the forthcoming scenario disks. How about some inner city, street fighting missions, Interstel?

D.R.A.G.O.N. Force logo

INTERSTEL £29.99 * Mouse

The Drastic Response Assault Group Operations Network are in town and they mean business. These boys are a crack group of commandos 14 strong working for all the good nations of the world in a bid to stamp out terrorism. Guess what - you're in charge of the whole bunch.

This is a single-player tactical skirmish wargame featuring some dozen missions that can be played in any order. For any mission only seven of the bunch can be selected, so the first thing to do is get the mission briefing. Pick carefully to get the best men, because they are all specialists in different areas including demolition work, handling nasty great machine guns and close combat.

Once you know what must be done and you've picked the people to do it, the next task is to select weaponry for each solder. Each one of the squad has several characteristic ratings such as awareness, intensity and strength, the strength rating determining how much of a load the soldier can take into battle.

Then it's time to do the job. Your group is airlifted to the game area and you then have a fixed time to complete the task before reassembling your men at the extraction site where a helicopter will come in and get you out - the helicopter can be called in before the specified time if you finish the job early or get into a tight spot.

The game is played in rounds. Up to five orders can be given to each man who will endeavour to carry them out. Once you've issued orders (they're small and quite specific orders, none of this 'go over there and shoot anyone who moves' stuff) you can then advance the game. You have two options: 'go until event', which means the game continues until something happens (i.e. forces exchange fire) or 'go until interrupt', which means things carry on unaided until you break in and sih out some orders.

At the end of each mission you're given a de-brief which tells you if any of your squad have had their attributes upgraded, whether you lost any of the team (which you'll know anyway) and whether you gained any medals.

Missions can be practised any number of times but can only be done 'for real' once. When a mission is completed you won't get the chance to do the thing again - although it's worth noting that there are ways to cheat so that you can.


Everything is viewed from above with the characters drawn as little stick men. The background graphics are much better, though, and the sound effects are good as well. You'll know by now that great graphics don't necessarily make a great game and the same applies in the reverse: naff graphics don't have to mean a naff game.


More would have been nice. There are only the dozen missions and there are no skill levels. Although you can cheat and redo missions to improve your performance there's little point. Novices will find it tricky to start with, but others will find the missions slightly too easy.


DF has been nicely done: it has a Laser Squad feel to it and, though it's not as good, it will keep you playing for some while. More missions and various skill levels would have beefed it up and improved the game but, that apart, it still works very well and is fun to play.

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Was kommt dabei heraus, wenn man Rambo, James Bond und Tarzan zusammen in einen Topf wirft? Einen Spezialeinheit ist geboren! Und du bist der Boss, der den Jungs die Befehle geben darf...

D.R.A.G.O.N. Force ist eine strategische Kampfsimulation, bei der eine siebenköpfige Spezialeinheit verschiedene Aufträge erfüllen muss. Die zwölf angebotenen Missionen reichen von der Geiselbefreihung bis hin zur Bekämpfung der Rauschgift-Mafia. Aus einer Kartei mit 14 Superhelden (Scharfschützen, Sprengmeister, Scouts, Ärtzte...) sucht man sich seine Leute aus, dann werden sie noch mit Waffen ausgestattet, wobei auch hier eine bunte Vielfalt vom einfachen Gewehr bis zur Panzerfaust geboten ist. Und schon geht es ab in den Einsatz.

Genau hier tauchen auch die ersten Kritikpunkte auf: Da es nur einen eng begrenzten Geländeausschnitt (Vogelperspektive) zu sehen gibt, behält man nur sehr schwer die Übersicht - da hilft auch die ohnehin miese Übersichtskarte wenig. Zudem wird, während der Kampf im Gänge ist, dauernd zwischen den verschiedenen Handlungs-Screens hin und hergeschaltet. Die Sprites der Akteure sind winzig und kaum zu erkennen.

Richtig schlimm wird es bei der Steuerung: Jedes Teammitglied kann nur einzeln angesprochen werden, eine Steuerung der gesamten Truppe ist nicht möglich, wodurch das Vorankommen zur echten Qual wird. Überhaupt spielt sich alles im Zeitlupentempo ab, die Bewegungen der Sprites sind zum Einschlafen lahm!

Soundmäßig herrscht außer gelegentlichem (realistischem) Geknatter auch bloß Grabesstille. Ich schließe mich an und vergesse diesen zähen Strategie-Brei schweigend... (wh)