Armour in Aloha

Pacific Islands logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

EMPIRE * £29.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse * Out now

It's time to set off to those sun-drenched islands in the Pacific Ocean. Just think of it - the warm climate, the sea, the white beaches and the hordes of commie infiltrators for you to blast into oblivion. This is my kind of life.

Pacific Island (PI from now on) is the sequel to Empire's earlier tank game, Team Yankee. However, there are a few changes to the game which make it even more playable. The scenario is that a large force of disaffected Soviet communists, aided by the North Koreans, have invaded the Pacific atoll of Yama Yama. Now this is quite unfortunate due to the fact that Yama Yama is a communications link for the early warning monitoring system in the Pacific Ocean, so the United Nations is understandably concerned about secret - and bloomin' expensive - communications equipment falling into enemy hands.

This is where you come in. You must assemble a team of tank units, four in all, which will be the spearhead of the first offensive, and you must recapture all five islands of the atoll to succeed.

You start on the island Aloha which you must traverse, destroying enemy installations and communications, as well as other commie tanks.
However, unlike Team Yankee, you actually have to purchase your tanks and their ammunition. You are initially given a budget of $55 million to spend (that's not much - Biff spends twice that on T-shirts - Ed) but you are ale to gain more money during the game by destroying enemy installations and vehicles.

The enemy shoot back too though, so after each battle you can purchase replacement tanks for those that have been destroyed, repair damaged tanks and, even increase the morale of your crew by having a booze-up.

All of this costs money unfortunately, so at some point you will find yourself running short. This is where you have the dubious option of selecting secondhand vehicles instead of brand new machines. I can just picture it - a big sign outside a heavily fortified building with the words "Stormin' Norman's Used Warmongering Ware. Lowest Prices Around" written on it.

Each of the five islands you will be fighting on are split up into square zones. Blue coloured ones are free from enemies, allowing unrestricted passage to other parts of the island, while red zones indicate an enemy presence.

Upon entering a red zone, you will be taken to the purchase screen to buy your equipment or repair vehicles damaged in a previous battle prior to engaging the enemy. You are then given the mission description which lists the objectives to overcome in order to liberate that zone. When you have accomplished your mission, the red zone will turn yellow and you are free to move to the next square.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed Team Yankee so much was because it was game orientated rather than being a pure simulation. So the ability to choose your path through an island makes for a more strategic game.
For instance, it is important that you make your way to enemy-held zones, which also contain communications equipment in order to destroy the transmitters. If you fail to do this fairly early on, you will find that the enemy will know of your location and you will be faced with increasing opposition making your life potentially rather short.

This strategy element makes PI slightly more interesting than Team Yankee's rather linear approach to the play, while at the same time not being too much of a brain drain to destroy the shoot-'em-up feel.

The artillery support feature, where you can arrange for HE (high explosive), DPICM (Duel Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) and SMOKE shells to be fired at certain times on specific areas, has a new addition with the ability to lay mines at critical areas on the map.

You have to remember where you put them though, otherwise you might find yourself running inadvertently over them only to find you are suddenly a vehicle short.

The control system in PI is almost identical to its predecessor with a few minor additions. This is a good thing because the control system in Team Yankee was excellent and easy to use so any major changes weren't required. If you have played Team Yankee, you will quickly be able to get into the game without having to wade through the manual beforehand.

For those of you who have not played Team Yankee, the 3D graphics are quite excellent. Not only do you have vector graphics but all vehicles are bitmapped. This gives greater detail than that achievable through vectors and improves the appearance of each vehicle infinitely. The actual 3D routines have been speeded up quite a bit and you are also able to destroy any object in the 3D view.

Because of the increased 3D speed, you will now occasionally come across a whole village, rather than solitary buildings. Such an object would have slowed down Team Yankee considerably. You will also find that the enemies' intelligence has been improved too, making them harder to overcome (oh bugger). There are no changes in the sound effects department, which is no bad thing at all, with the usual explosions as you let loose that lethal Sabot at some unsuspecting commie tank, or give him a good strafing with your machine gun.

The overall gameplay has improved quite a bit and I enjoyed playing PI. The improved speed in graphics and the ability to blast everything in sight makes the game great fun. The packaging includes six full colour maps of the islands, which mark key features such as road, communications and rivers, helping you to plan your strategy. The manual is well written, making it easy for those new to the game to quickly get into the action. There is also a 'training' island for you to practice on.

Is it my imagination, or are software companies beginning to realise that people with hard drives exist and play games too? Empire have thoughtfully provides a installation program on the game disks for those of you with such hardware. Nice one, Empire.

So, if you have already sampled the delights of Team Yankee, you will not be overly disappointed at what PI has to offer.

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The bloke who invented tanks mut have been a total nutter. Think about it - cooped up in a tin box, with someone lobbing explosives at you. If that doesn't scare you, step this way. Have we got a surprise for you.

The Yankees are at war again, but this time it's a bit different. As always, they're fighting Soviet tanks but the Russians aren't involved because they're busy deciding who owns their army. Instead, you're fighting North Korean because they've just invaded the Yama Yama islands. Why North Koreans? Because they're the nearest, and the Batley Townswomen's Guild (Armoured Division) are too busy fighting insurgency in Peckham. As far as Empire are concerned,, it doesn't matter who you're up against - just accept the fact that they're not very nice, OK?

Specific requirements
Your task is to liberate the archipelagos and drive out the occupying army. You have up to four units (and four vehicles) under your control, with the option to replenish your forces in between battles.

The method of control is similar to Empire's earlier Team Yankee but with a few enhancements. As before, each unit has three displays: a map, a static display and a turret view. Your switch between displays using Workbench-style window controls in the top corner. You can view a single unit's displays at full-screen size or all four units together at quarter-size. This lets you keep track of everything, but you need to be able to multi-task your brain to do this effectively.

The chief difference in Team Yankee is the emphasis on management of the whole campaign. Depending on your success in battle, the amount of damage to innocent villages and the speed of your campaign, you receive a valuable supply of cash. It's up to you to spend it wisely and guarantee a constant supply.

You decide whether and when to rest your troops to get morale back, or repair damaged tanks. Both actions waste time and allow your opponent to lick its wounds and repair its own damage, making it tougher in the next battle.

The longer you take to wipe them out, the less popular the war is "back home" and the less cash you get. But sometimes losing time can work to your advantage, especially if you're deliberately advancing the clock so you can use the cover of darkness on your next mission. You're the one who has to make the financial, as well as tactical, decisions, on the campaign trail. Be prepared to play the same missions over a few times before you get the balance right.

There is a tendency towards frustration at the beginning, but Pacific Islands has plenty of staying power. Five islands, make up a total of 21 individual battles (each lasting around 40 minutes). It takes several attempts (and probably about 10 hours) to complete just the five battles on the first island.

Even when you've liberated it, you could still have problems later on if you've messed up your tactics or spent too much. Those of you looking for a quick Battlezone-style shoot-out are likely to end up tuggin your hair out in handfuls - Pacific Islands is a test of tactical skill first and reflexes fast, but both are indispensable.

Speed is high and so is the detail. It's easy to forget the 'virtual' part of this virtual reality.

Let's talk about tactics
Every mission requires thought and planning, and usually at least two attempts to get it right. The first time you play through the battles, you're likely to suffer a few surprises. After a couple of attempts, you can generally predict where the enemy is likely to ambush you, or where their weakest points are.

To prepare you, there's a training ground and it's worth using this (even if you think you're the best general since Stormin' Norman), just to get used to the strength of each of your ammunition types. High-Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) shells are great for popping tanks, but not so good at piercing thick factory walls where sleeved SABOT rounds are more effective.

By far the best weapon is the guided missile, but this has two strings attached that are worth considering: you need to be stationary to fire missiles, and the missile-firers are the weakest units of all. This means that you really have to prepare properly when launching a missile attack. Testing it all on the training ground in total safety means that you won't suffer a frustrating demise in the real heat of the action.

From a player's point-of-view, it's an uphill struggle, but one that's worth going up. Because you have to work so hard to complete each mission, it's rewarding when you succeed. Part of this is due to atmosphere - the blend of sprite tanks and forests with vector-drawn buildings and roads gives you the best of both worlds. Frame update speed is high, and so is the detail. It's easy to forget the 'virtual' part of this virtual reality.

Sound effects also play a major part in the game, and not just for atmosphere. Knowing when you're under fire is vital and the sound effects make it deadly clear. When you hear shells around you for the first time, you're bound to panic trying to locate the unfortunate unit and then the attacker. War poet, Wilfred Owen, summed it all up by describing this moment as "an ecstasy of fumbling" - if you've ever wondered what that meant, play Pacific Island. Frighteningly realistic, playing is like juggling with smoldering dynamite. Lose your cool once, and you're dead.

Your guide to tricks, tracks and tank tactics

At first glance, Pacific Islands is a daunting prospect. It's hard enough to concentrate on one tank group without having to contend with four at once. But a few tactics can make the difference between success and abject failure.

Your first action should always be to read the mission details thoroughly. Occasionally there are clues as to the most likely places you'll be ambushed. More often than not, the direct route is the one the enemy expects you to follow and they'll be waiting ear it, usually in the cover of trees. So think about using a longer route which enables you to approach the target from behind or the sides. You're less likely to get japped on the way.

Often this tactic takes you across the enemy's line of sight, so use a smoke barrage to block the gaps between forests where you're exposed. You have to time the barrage so that it coincides with your arrival. If in doubt, call it in a tiny bit later than you think you need to. You can always make your units wait in the trees until the smoke appears, but if they arrive too late, the enemy will have seen the smoke and already be charging over to find you.

Sometimes you can save yourself a bit of work bu using the artillery HE barrage to destroy secondary targets. Call the strike in right at the start of the mission to improve the chances of killing off the target and getting the best from an enemy morale-drop. You should make sure you visit the target yourself, just to make sure it's been totally wiped out and finish it off if it hasn't. Using artillery for static targets like radar installation and fuel dumps is usually more successful than using it against enemy tanks, purely because it's difficult to predict where they'll be. Beware of using artillery on targets in villages - you may knock out a factory, but you'll probably destroy a church and several innocent houses as well, with a resulting drop in your budget due to excess collateral damage.

Using engine smoke and infra-red battle-sights is paramount in daytime battles. Most enemy tanks don't have any infra-red capability, so you can be reasonably bold when you mount an assault. Another tactic worth employing is driving your units along the tree-line (the 100-metre perimeter of forests) wherever possible. Enemy units are much less likely to see your green hardware if it's on a green background until you start firing in earnest.

There are many targets that are neither primary nor secondary objectives, but they can help you gain an overall advantage. You must concentrate on the key targets or you won't win the battles, but destroying ancillaries like enemy communications radars and military command posts helps your war effort overall. The enemy also uses many fast-but-small scout units which spot you at long range and then warn their reinforcements to advance. If you deal with these quickly, they can't relay information back to their support troops and your chance of surprise is greater.

Einmal Yankee, immer Yankee!

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Anderthalb Jahre hat Empire gebraucht, um die kriegsmüden Panzereinheiten aus "Team Yankee" wieder auf Vordermann zu bringen. Im Nachfolger verschlagt es die Grenadiere nun auf eine krisengeschüttelte Inselgruppe - was hat die Südsee an strategischen Herausforderungen zu bieten?

Wir schreiben das Jahr 1995. Ost und West liegen sich mal wieder (oder noch immer?) in den Haaren, weil unverbesserliche Kommunisten das Pazifik Atoll Yama Yama besetzt haben. Gut, daß zufälligerweise gerade eine Wessi-Panzereinheit in der Nähe ist- nicht ganz so gut, daß Empire vom Konzept des Vorgängers kaum einen Millimeter abweicht.

Es gilt also erneut, auf fünf Inseln gegnerische Panzer platzumachen, Munitionslager abzufackeln und Kommunikationseinrichtungen zu zerstören. Auch tanktechnisch trifft man auf alte Bekannte wie den M1 Abrams oder den (ex-) Sowjetischen T-62.

Sicher, "Team Yankee war nicht übel, aber führt soviel Treue nicht automatisch zu einer besseren Data-Disk? Nun ja, es wurden natürlich auch allerlei Neuerungen untergebracht. So muß man sich jetzt vor Spielbeginn aus dem großen Fahrzeug- und Munitionsangebot eine eigene Kampfgruppe zusammenstellen, und für gewonnene Schlachten winken Prämien, mit denen die Waffenvorräte aufgefrischt und defekte Panzer repariert werden können.

Hau-Draufs und Anti-Taktiker dürfen ihre Schießwut weiterhin ungebremst ausleben, bei Pacific Islands ist praktisch jedes Objekt zerstörbar, und hinter so mancher Häuserruine taucht plötzlich der Feind auf. Hinterhältige Naturen können den Gegner nun aber auch in ein Minenfeld rollen lassen.

Hardcore-Simulanten haben es sicher schon mit Schrecken bemerkt, auch Pacific Islands setzt voll auf Action. Der Vorteil dabei ist, daß die Bedienung hier immer noch so kinderleicht von der Hand geht wie anno "Team Yankee": über den bewährten Vierfach-Splitscreen wechselt man mausgesteuert und blitzschnell zu allen Einheiten, wobei es völlig egal ist, wer gerade was in welchem Fenster unternimmt. Während Panzerzug zwei die Karte begutachtet, darf Nummer vier so bereits einen Hubschrauber atomisieren; dazu kann jedes Fenster auf Vollbild geschaltet werden.

Echte Bereicherungen sind die nun "intelligenteren" Gegner und schnelleren 3D-Routinen, sowie eine Zoom-Funktion mit sechsfacher Vergrößerung. Auch die Missionen sind im Vergleich zum Vorgänger etwas komplexer ausgefallen - nach einem variablen Schwierigkeitsgrad und einem Mission-Builder sucht der Panzerkapitän jedoch auch im Pazifik vergebens.

Solltet Ihr hingegen eine gut spielbare Action-Simulation in hübsch bunter Grafik und mit stimmiger Geräuschkulisse suchen, dann seid Ihr hier an der richtigen Adresse: Empires Panzer lassen sich auch ohne großes Handbuchstadium dirigieren, dennoch braucht man auf die gewohnten Feinheiten wie Nachteinsätze oder Verneblungstaktik nicht zu verzichten. Zudem ist eine deutsche Version bereits im Anrollen. (pb)

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You played the great demo, now try the even better game!

Hopefully most of you out there will know what to expect from this, after our excellent playable demo on AP coverdisk 11. Me, I love the thing to death. I am tempted to end the review here, but hey, there is this whole box to fill up yet, so why do I not explain things for those who missed the disk, making it clear exactly the reasons why I have fallen so thoroughly for such a 'technie game'.

The follow up to Team Yankee - perhaps Empire's biggest success yet - Pacific Islands revolves around a group of five (yes, you guessed it) islands in the Pacific ocean. A group of 'disaffected communists (i.e. the Russians, but they are not really) have take over the island, and it is your job to lead a nearby team of tanks across them. Liberating the oppressed people, blasting the hell out of the Ruskies (sorry, rebels) and so on. Money is gained for wiping the floor with the bad guys, while your cas supply is cut off if you go around blowing up churches and the like - just imagine that it is Congress or someone you have to keep satisfied.

It is all very simple, until it comes to the bit about controlling the tanks. There are 16 of them, you see. Thankfully, they are grouped in teams of four - only the leader of each team is controlled (if that tank gets totalled, then control and view passes to the next in line) - which gives you a rair selection of firepower if you need it (especially if you build each team up out of different types of tank).

Sounds fun but perhaps complex to control, doesn't it? Happily, though, it is not - the screen is split into four small windows (each of which can display a 3D tank view, a zoomable map of the conflict area, or a damage status screen) - and any of these windows can be increased to cover the screen any time.

Movement is all achieved via the map screens, so the 3D is used purely for turret and gun control. The route through the islands is partially flexible, so strategies are very important, and after each mini conflict funds can be used (if there are any) to re-supply tanks or buy new ones to replace those which got duffed. There is also morale and that kind of guff to worry about, but I am running out of space here, and what I have not done is say why I like it so much yet.

Well, basically I like Pacific Islands 'cos it is really good (Would you like to elaborate? - Ed.). Well, apart from the ver-so-slightly dodgy sprite scaling routines, it looks well groovy, the sound is actually essential (just try working out what the hell is happening without any sound FX) and the control of 16 tanks is ridiculously well desgined.

Strategy games usually bore the hell out of me, but it is actually the strategy aspect of Pacific Islands which I have enjoyed most. When I was a kid, I always loved playing with my toy tank and now the chance to do it real (or as close as I really want to get) on the Amiga is definitely welcome. Dodging in and out fo jungle, throwing up smoke walls and using infra red to pick off the 'blind' bad guys on the other side (they do not have infra red capability) is a laugh a minute. It all goes to prove that there is nothing wrong with the concept of strategy games at all - just that they are usually executed in such slow and tedious way.

What else is there to say? Well, the war atmosphere is brilliantly done - the grainy graphics, understated sound and intelligently-designed icon system all serving to induce the player into a constant state of enar panic. When you have got a team of tanks just hidden right at the edge of the jungle and four Russian ones roll past, it is almost impossible not to involuntarily hold your breath and sit completely still in your seat.

For once I cannot really fault any aspect of a game. Everything has been thought through from the player's point of view, and although it is all a bit daunting initially, playing General soon becomes second nature (well, as close to second nature as doing 16 different things at ones ever becomes, I guess).

Pacific Islands is simply the closest the Amiga has ever come to those glorious World War II action adventure movies, with the added spice of a fantastic strategy system and a well orchestrated enemy force. Sheer tank heaven (look ma, no bad tank puns).

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Empire's big guns return for a Pacific cruise. Mark Patterson fills his Tank...

These days sequels are becoming as inevitable as old-age and the Eurovision song-contest. Pacific Islands is one such inevitability, and is the follow-up to Empire's excellent Team Yankee. Pacific is set around the same time as its predecessor, but in keeping with our global peace, World War III isn't the reason for the game's many confrontations.

Instead, a small army of Russian renegades have teamed up with the North Koreans and inexplicably invaded the small pacific archipelago of Yama Yama.

In a whirlwind blow from fate, you and your platoon happen to be on a ship returning form the Gulf via the Pacific, and, as you're the closest, your unit of sixteen armoured vehicles has been selected to liberate the island. Well I never.

Without wanting to sound too dismissive, I'd spotted Pacific Islands' biggest flaw within seconds of loading - it's virtually identical to Team Yankee. Okay, so there are loads of new features and ideas, but the similarities are so great, they aren't something that can be easily overlooked.

The graphics, for example, are extremely similar, as is the control system. In fact, with the exception of a few more user-friendly panels, the only major changes have been to the scenarios which are brilliantly inter-related, and the addition of a screen which lets you select the next bit of island you want to attack.

Anybody who owns Team Yankee and buys this may feel a little cheated. Obviously, Empire were also concerned about this, which is reflected in a chapter in the manual which explains the differences between the game and its predecessor - for all those who hadn't noticed, I suppose. A better idea may have been to release the game AND some sort of scenario data disk for the original. As it stands, this is dangerously similar to the original.

One prominent new feature calls on you to remove your battle-gear and play accountant. Each time an enemy unit or building is destroyed, you earn yourself a cash bonus. At the end of a mission, this money can then be spent on repairing your vehicles and buying ammunition and take heavier damage, but you don't always get enough money to cover all your expenses, so you end up trading off shells for tanks or vice-versa - although it is possible to purchase a slightly-used secondhand model (presumably used by a little old Lady who used to drive it to Church each Sunday).

To tell the truth, I was rather put off with this feature. I may be rather put off with this feature. I may be on my own here, but I'd always thought a tank commander's job was to shoot things, not balance a budget. I'm quite content with wasting the enemy, I don't need any of the financial rubbish - I'd rather leave that to the bureaucrats, and it comes across as similarly out of place here.

There are five islands to free, and each is divided into a series of mini campaigns. Normally, you're called upon to achieve three or four objectives to complete a mission. These usually have your platoon destroying a communications post or some other enemy site, while eradicating every enemy unit you come across.

To do so, you have sixteen vehicles, armed to the axles with missiles and machine guns. These sixteen are further divided into four squads of four. The Koreans are wise to your landing, though, and have prepared by laying mine fields, digging tanks in, and sending out scouts. If any of your vehicles are spotted by an enemy patrol you have to act upon them a bit smartish, as they usually scurry away to warm their friends that a large bunch of Americans are on the way.

For a little extra help, you also have a few artillery units who'll take advance bookings. Before you embark on a mission, you can ask for a minefield to be laid or smoke bombs, high explosions or multiple-warhead shells to be fired at a particular location at certain times.

The down-shot of this is that it's very easy to advance faster than you thought, and end up on the receiving end of your supporting fire. If you want to take advantage of this feature, it's best to plan ahead and keep to a very strict battle plan. That's not as simple as you might think, as the temptation to keep on pummeling the enemy is a great.

One of the notable features of this, and of course Team Yankee, is the excellent control system. Creating a system that allowed for adequate control of sixteen vehicles split into four units was a major achievement by the programmers, and they have pulled it off admirably. The game is played via a series of three displays. These include the gunner's-eye view from the command tank of each platoon. When something happens to a platoon, you enlarge each display to fill the screen and consequently take in more of the action.

All the commands are issued through a point and click system via a series of simple icons, so there's almost no need for the keyboard. This goes a long way to making the game far more enjoyable as you end up not having to think about issuing commands. In addition, the all-important weapons are equally simple to use, and can be switched between quickly and smoothly.

As with the first game, the graphics are excellent. The programmers have opted for sprite-based tanks, and although this results in a loss of definition, they are all perfectly recognisable - in fact, while the programmers were demonstrating the game at a show earlier in the year, a tank enthusiast came along and reeled their names off as they trundled on-screen! More importantly, though, the update is fast and smooth, too, keeping the action trotting along at a fair rate.

Apart from the ridiculous budget-managing aspect, this is a good game. If you own Team Yankee, and are coming to the end of its missions, you may want to take a look at this. Personally, I think they're too similar.

Additionally, the first game's rough edges have been eroded, and there is a great deal more to do in Pacific, but I still can't help but think there's not enough difference between the two. I can understand the coders using a successful game engine again and again, but why not opt for a totally different scenario - space, perhaps.

Still, if you don't have Team Yankee in your collection, then I'd recommend Pacific without hesitation. It's absorbing, easy to play yet still taxing, and second only to MicroProse's M1 Abrams in the Amiga tank-sim top ten.


You have four different types of vehicles on your side for the conflict, some of which are superior to others. Your mainstay is the M1 Abrams, which combines firepower with protection, laser sights, smoke generators and a fair turn of speed. Next in line is ITV, which is nothing more than a missile launcher on wheels. While not very well armoured, its fearsome TOW missiles can devastate enemy tanks. Bringing up the rear are the M2 Bradley and M113 fighting vehicles. These are lightly armoured troop carriers with a fair amount of firepower, but not much in the way of armour, so they're best left for mopping up operations.

GUNNING FOR THE ENEMY It's important to choose the right weapon for the job. HEAT shells pack quite a punch against buildings and troop carriers, but are ineffective against heavily-armoured vehicles. When you're faced with such a beast, you can resort to SABOTs, which consists of a depleted uranium rod propelled by a huge charge which powers it through the thickest armour. For the ultimate in tank-annihilation, though, there are TOW missiles. These can only be fired when the launch vehicle is stationary, but have almost twice the range of their counterparts, are very accurate and hugely powerful.
Should you get trigger happy and waste your missiles, you can fall back on your machinegun, which has an unlimited supply of ammo. It's quite effective against lesser vehicles, but try to face off with a tank in it and you'd be better off raising the white flag.

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Empire Simulation has brought out a sequel to Team Yankee - a mouse-driven battle sim called Pacific Islands. Martin Pond claims to have been Monty's double back in 'The Big One', so we let him try it out.

One can fully understand Empire Simulation's dilemma: ever since those vodka-snorting atheists in the Evil Empire turned soft and got hip to democracy, there's been a deficit of decent villains. Obviously, there's a limit to the number of scenarios you can build around the dastardly deeds of the Welsh.

But talk about unlikely scenarios: disaffected renegade Soviet communists invading an atoll in the Pacific called Yama Yama. I think I'd have less of a problem suspending disbelief if they'd plumped for maverick kickboxing nuns laying siege to the fleshpots of Amsterdam. Still, there you have it - the game puts you in charge of four armoured units as they spend an idyllic holiday island hopping and commie-bashing around the Pacific Ocean.

First of all, you're given a mission briefing and given the opportunity to set the time and target area for an airstrike. This is useful for creating a diversion, upsetting the enemy or waking you up if you've dropped off.

When you're in the battle zone, you can control all the units at once with the four-way split screen. For each unit, you can view either the status screen, the map screen or the 3D view screen. The latter shows a view from the turret, and lets you select and fire the various weapons. It also has a smart IR imaging scope - handy at night, or if you've been using smoke grenades (especially since the closest the Russkies have got to equipping their tanks with night vision is extra carrot rations for the gunners).

The map screen shows where your team is in relation to enemy units, buildings, rivers and roads. The man- made structures include: radar dishes, ammunition stores, factories (which churn out new tanks) and civilian buildings. They all look different on the 3D view, so there's no excuse for turning that paediatric hospital into a pile of rubble - make a mistake and you'll be coming home to a hefty fine! That's the horror of war, I suppose.

To move a unit anywhere, you have to decide whether you want it to travel under cover or at speed over the open plains, and then program a destination point into the map. Some thought also has to go into the unit's arrangement to make sure that it presents as small a target as possible.

Amiga reviewMartin: My big beef about this game is the movement control. You can't change direction in the 3D mode, while fine control (such as would be required to negotiate a bridge, say) is impossible with the waypoint system. Hence bridges lose the strategic value they have in real life, because this last point necessitates that rivers are fordable at every point. It's a crying shame.

Furthermore, the control panic has redundant buttons everywhere. A unit's tanks can be placed in more useless formations than a synchronised swimming team, and there's a button to select each of them. And why have a button for the laser range-finder? You only touch it once, to turn it on at the start of the mission.

Having got all that off my chest, the game is very absorbing when you get the hang of the controls. it's got all the best bits about Team Yankee but it's a lot more user-friendly - you can now shoot buildings and even trees! Another good point is that the authentic specifications for equipment have been used (such as the re-load speeds of the various armaments).

The simulation is very atmospheric, and is very successful in recreating 'the fog of war' - if you haven't lost a unit through friendly fire by the end of the first mission, I'll eat my tin hat. It's still a bad scenario, though. Stop