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Dr Peter Turcan has a reputation for building solid wargames based on complex mathematics. Dreadnoughts takes his works a bit further, and is based on naval warfare from the early twentieth century. No planes, no missiles, just huge great guns and armour plate.

Most of the graphics consist of naff, lo-res 3D views. The core of the game is ordering your flagship and others under your command to manoeuvre and shoot at the enemy. Type the command wrong and it's like playing Colossal Cave again.

Brave and different, Dreadnoughts is a text adventure disguised as a war-game. Great if you have a vivid imagination and an interest in the subject, but I despise it. You can't edit battles, and new sets are £17.99 a time. I prefer pen and paper battleships.

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Was sagt Euch der Name Dr. Peter Turcan? Nix? Wie steht es denn mit Titeln wie "Armada" oder "Gettysburg"? Ach, der Dr. Peter Turcan! Altgedienten Strategen dürfte somit Böses schwamen...

Mit Fug und Recht, denn vor wenigen Jahren traktierte der rührige Dottore die Bildschirm-Taktiker mit immer neuen (und immer gleichen) 3D-Strategicals, die es nur einer Kombination aus durchaus vorhandener Spieltiefe und ungewöhnlicher Optik zu verdanken hatten, nicht völlig verrissen zu werden - die Steuerung war nämlich unter jeder Kritik.

Daran hat sich auch bei diesen sieben anwählbaren Marine-Szenarien aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg kaum etwas geändert, was den Packungsaufdruck von der "aufregendsten Seeschlacht aller Zeiten" in völlig neuem Licht erscheinen läßt. Wie das? Nun, wir haben uns tatsächlich über die Handhabung eines Games noch selten so aufgeregt: Nach wie vor müssen die Befehle in festgelegtem Format händisch eingetippt oder mühsam aus Mausmenüs zusammengestöpselt werden. Im Ergebnis gibt der Amiga dann sechs simulierte Minuten später einen neuen, stillstehenden und erschreckend detailarmen 3D-Screen aus. Bewundernswert, wer dabei Nerven und Übersicht behält!

Na schön, die Schiffe der Deutschen bzw. Briten sind etwas größer als seinerzeit bei der "Armada", und auch der Screenaufbau geht ein wenig schneller als anno dunnemals vonstatten. Selbst Titelsound und Effekte kommen ganz erträglich rüber, und die Handlungsmöglichkeiten sind wie gesagt nicht mal verkehrt. Dennoch: Was 1990 schon fragwürdig war, ist heutzutage halt hoffnungslos überholt - kein Wunder, daß die Zeiten der britischen Seeherrschaft vorbei sind... (jn)

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Me and Captain Birdseye. We're like that. Which explains why I was so pleased to be presented with a game that combines my two great passions: strategy and naval warfare. Moreover, World War I naval warfare. Terrific, I though. No - honestly.

If you're familiar with Waterloo, Austerlitz and Peter Turcan's other wargames, the 3D graphics and text parser used by Dreadnoughts will come as no surprise. It's by Dr Turcan too, you see.

You're the Admiral of the Fleet, and you order ships around by typing in things like FULL SPEED, ASSIST THE NOTTINGHAM and (straight out of the manual, this one) SIGNAL THE TIGER TO STATION YOUR SHIP 2 MILES OFF THE STARBOARD QUARTER OF THE FLAGSHIP. This requires some pretty spirited typing at times, but the results are generally worth the effort. The game's workings are sophisticated and perfectly balanced, and much more involving than is generally the case with these things.

Then, of course, there are the graphics. As usual they take ages to draw (but this tends to go unnoticed in the context of the even longer waits while the computer does its thinking). And there are some good explosions and things.

I have to confess to not really having gone a bundle on any of Dr Turcan's previous games. The results simply didn't justify all the waiting around as far as I was concerned, and I quickly got bored with them. So I was quite surprised to find myself actually enjoying Dreadnoughts.

Enjoying it, mark you. This is largely attributable to the game;s accessibility. Although the manual isn't much cop, lacking a step-by-step guide to getting started, the game can be basically be left to its own devices to start off with. In the absence of orders from you, your fleet will take the initiative and fight battles of its own accord. Then, as your confidence builds up, you can begin to 'take the com' and throw in a few ideas of your own. (This is how all wargames should be - I get fed up of repeatedly having to issue trivial orders to every unit on the map just to prevent them from sitting there looking dumb).

Dreadnoughts is a really smashing wargame, and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys sitting in darkened rooms waiting for their next movement phase to come around. I simply couldn't find fault with it (other than the lack of speed, the price and the fact that it's a naval strategy game).

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Mark Patterson plumbs new depths with Peter Turcan's long-awaited wargame.

For those of you who want to join the armed forces, but tend to shy away from the possibilities of war, Dreadnoughts is for you. Dreadnoughts is set during the first three years of World War One, when naval power was all important. During this period, gigantic battleships such as the Bismark and HMS Dreadnought were the respective flagships of the German and British navies. There are seven scenarios which culminate in the battle of Jutland which involves over 250 ships.

Most conventional wargames rely on icons, or single key-presses to issue orders. But this, like the other Turcan games, uses a system more familiar to adventure games. Commands are issued through sentences. There are several key words to issue orders, plus a directive so the computer knows who you're talking to. For instance, if you wanted to take a look at a battle cruiser, you'd type in 'Look At Invincible'. You can also look at it from another point of view by typing 'Look At (name of ship)'.

The rest of the in-game commands use this simple method, but there's quite a time delay between question and answer in order to simulate the poor guys who have to translate the spotlight signal words, and the commander of the other ship to formulate his reply. The command system has no trouble dealing with complicated instructions either. In one sentence you can tell a member of your fleet to sail to a certain location, shell anything they find there, then scuttle. It's this versatility that makes this potentially complicated game playable.

The 3D graphics are another outstanding feature of Dreadnoughts. They make viewing a battle easier than the rows of little icons that make up most wargames. What really stands out is the amazing technical accuracy of the game. The ships are described in detail and there is a chart showing the damage potential of the weapons.

Although this game is designed to be accessible, it is still very heavy going - it took me ages to get into it. While the control system is easy to understand, keeping track of units and following the battle is a real test of strategy skills. As good as it is - and there is no doubting that Turcan knows his stuff - Dreadnoughts is definitely one for strategy fans only.