Smoke more Embassies than Alex Higgins with...

Sabre Team logo

KRISALIS * £25.99 * 1 meg * Mouse * Out now

Not the only offering we've had this month that is having an identity crisis. This one thinks it's an arcade run-jump-and-shoot game, but little does it know that it's really a strategy specialty that will have you tearing your hair out with startling regularity.

For those you who don't know what a Sabre Team is, I shall explain. It is one of the formations that the SAS use to diffuse many political flash points, diffuse meaning killing everyone who looks a bit threatening. The team is a group of four crack commandos who have at their disposal a vast array of armaments - guns, bazookas and machine guns that look like they belong on the top of a tank.

All the gear's there, but what about the game? Well, all kitted out you have to parachute your men into the action zone. That's simple enough, you just choose where they are going to land and off you go. You view the playing area at a 45 degree angle with quite a high perspective similar to Shadow Lands or Space Crusade.

After you have chosen the four to carry out the mission you have to equip them. This is where the strategy kicks in. You must choose weapons that aren't going to slow your men down too much but still provide enough firepower to do the job. The job usually being to turn lots of foreigners into sieves.

As I said before you have a pretty awesome weapons package, everything from CS gas and stun grenades to pistols and machine guns of all shapes and size. Each of the characters you control has a certain amount of points which allow him to move and do anything he wants to do, which is shoot people.

This action points setup is one of the few things I disliked about the game - it's a good idea which doesn't work very well in practice. For example, if you were to walk five paces in a northerly direction it would cost you five action points.

Fair enough, but sometimes just turning round can cost you several points, so once you've just turned on the spot to shoot somebody you might not have enough points left to shoot them. I don't like this because it takes away a little of the arcade action. But if that's not what you're playing the game for then fair enough - it takes a more strategic mind to use your points more carefully.

Along the bottom of the screen are icons which depict the actions that your character can carry out such as pick up, drop, throw and you have a graphical representation of each of the men which shows the state of their health.

There are other things to keep an eye on, for instance if one of your compass points goes blue it means that the character you are controlling has head something in that direction.

You move each of your characters in turn. Their action points depend on how healthy they are and how weighted down with equipment - so make sure you don't have them carrying five machine guns at once as I did.

There are five scenarios - an embassy siege, a hostage situation on a boat, a ground hostage situation and to other search and destroy missions. Some of them will be marksmen and some of them will be totally bogeyed like me.

Sabre Team is one of the best arcade/strategy crossovers I've seen. Infinitely playable and great fun if a little politically incorrect.

Sabre Team logo

We thought the men in black were the Stranglers, when in fact they're the Super Squaddies. The boys from the SAS make a lightning-fast appearance while we dive for cover.

Nobody knows who they are, but everyone knows they're dead 'ard. Bloke down the pub says he used to be one, but he can't prove it and no-one believes him. Lewis Collins' portrayal of an SAS soldier in Who Dares Wins is probably the only insight we've had into the dark world of the Special Air Services, with the exception of the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980, which showed the stunning capabilities of the black-clad men-at-arms. Now it's your turn to join them and prove your mentle.

Sabre Team is (according to that bloke down the pub) the name given to a four-man fighting group, the formation that the SAS always use. It's also the name Krisalis have given to their new action strategy game which puts you in the thick of it.

You take control of a Sabre Team in a variety of missions, usually with the express purpose of rescuing hostages or putting a dangerous enemy weapon out of commission. But this is not your usual Green Beret or Fire Force-style shoot-'em-up. Instead it's more like Laser Squad or Robosport, except the graphics and atmosphere are much, much better.

You begin with eight SAS soldiers and you must choose four to make up the Sabre Team for your first mission. Each guy has different skills and abilities. This enables some soldiers to move faster than others, a crucial thing to watch if you're going into battle - you can only every move at the pace of your slowest man if you're going to stick together.

Before you go on a mission, you can arm your men with an assortment of weapons: all kinds of different riffles, machine-guns and grenades. You also need to kit your team out with bulletproof vests and medical kits. While the list of guns looks like a catalogue from a military hardware shop, grenade come in just forms: stun grenade (big bang and a flash - hence the black lenses in your respirators) and CS gas (tear gas - hence the respirator). Neither grenade will kill an enemy (they disable them temporarily) to take they're only effective if you use them in the right situations.

When you begin a mission, you move each team member around the play area, searching for hostages whom you must rescue. Planning your route is important, because enemies are not printed on the display unless you are facing them and they're in your lime-of-sight. This means you have to spin round occasionally, to check that there isn't somebody hiding. If you hear or see enemies en route you can fire at them or throw grenades using the icon panel.

Sabre Team is excellent fun despite not being an action game

Hostage with the mostage
Once you've moved all of your team, the computer takes its turn. It works its way through all the enemy players, moving and reacting in the same way you do, except that they remain concealed unless they move into the view of one of your players. Hostages also get moved at this point, though they never usually move far because they're locked up. Occasionally an enemy soldier will take a pop at you, but if you have unused action points remaining, you get the opportunity to return fire, or get the heck out of the way.

If one of your players get shot, then his action points are reduced, and he is unable to move so far the next turn. He'll stay like this unless you've got a medical kit to help him heal. Assuming you don't get blasted, you continue to move your soldiers to where you think the hostages are being held. If you find one, you can bring him under your control by standing in the square next to him.

It's then down to you to guide him to safety, in the same why you guide your troops, except the hostages are never armed. The hostages are usually the most important element of a mission - more important than laying waste to enemy troops. In fact if you kill more than a certain amount of enemies, reinforcements are brought in to keep the battle going.

The five missions range from jungle camps to embassy buildings, enabling you to vary your tactics and explore new terrain. You can save and load games between moves, so you don't have to complete a mission in one go.

Whose hair thins?
Sabre Team is fun despite not being an action game. There are probably not quite enough action points to make it really exciting,and you do need to concentrate and plan a great deal. Often you'll get yourself into a situation from which there's no escape, because you've used up all your action points.

The gameplay, mechanics, graphics and sound are all high quality, but you have to be patient to get the best out of Sabre Team. The computer takes a while to go through its moves, and this may put people off. This is not a problem if you're used to strategy games (and Sabre Team is a strategy game, despite its action-game looks), but this may affect your enjoyment if you're expecting a mega-blast.

It can take hours to play a mission to its conclusion, and you need to plan carefully to win. If you rescue the hostages, you may still lose a few valuable team members - plus their ammo, weapons and kit. Your remaining players must select their equipment from a reduced quartermaster's stores before starting the next mission. Getting off to a bad start can make it more difficult to complete the whole game.

Sabre Team is a tough game, which looks like it ought to be a shoot-'em-up, but which is in fact a very adult strategy game. It misses out on the golden opportunity of a two-player mode, which is criminal, but there's a very solid, enjoyable game waiting to be played, albeit alone.

You'll need to have a bit of patience to complete each mission, and you may be a bit frustrated when you have to start all over again when your men and machinery run out. Certainly worth a look, and worth buying if you want a war game with a bit more style than usual.

Die Stratego-Metzger

Sabre Team logo

Das Spielprinzip dieses strategischen Säbelgerassels erinnert zwar an das gute alte "Laser Squad" von anno 1989, aber was macht das schon? Sooo lange erinnert sich eh keiner zurück...

... es sei denn, er hätte einen PC, denn für die MS-Dose hat Krisalis den Oldy erst umgesetzt. Dem Amiga haben die Jungs aber eine komplette Neuauflage spendiert, bei der man fünf beinharte Missionen scheucht. Zunächst pickt man sich seine Helden aus einem Angebot von ach Verbrechervisagen mit jeweils unterschiedlichen (Kampf-) Werten heraus; anschließend geht is in die Waffenkammer, wo Pistolen und MGs diverser Kaliber, Blendgranaten, CS-Gas, kugelsichere Westen und Munition auf neue Besitzer warten.

Sobald alle bis an die Zähne bewaffnet sind, dürfen erstmal ein paar Kriegsgefangene aus einem hervorragend bewachten Lager befreit werden, als nächstes holt man Geiseln aus einer von Terroristen besetzten Botschaft.

In der dritten Mission harrt eine unterirdische Militärbasis ihrer Zerstörung, danach kommt ein Kreuzfahrschiff, wo schon wieder Terroristen zugeschlagen haben. Den Abschluß bildet schließlich ein Ausflug in den Nahen Osten, denn auch dort kann man viele schöne Dinge zerbröseln; in unserem Fall ist es eine Atomwaffenfabrik.

Im Gegensatz zum futuristischen "Laser Squad" ist Sabre Team nicht nur deutlich brutaler, es hat auch ein real existierendes Vorbild - die englische Anti-Terroreinheit S.A.S, das Gegenstück zu unserer GSG 9. Mag das Gemetzel also auch als sicherer Index-Kandidat gehandelt werden, so ist es dennoch kein Spiel für hirnlos herumballernde Wohnzimmer-Rambos, denn hier muß mit Verstand und Taktik gekillt werden.

Das geschieht rundenweise, wobei der Elite-Trupp und die computergesteuerte Gegenseite immer abwechselnd ihre Aktions-Punkte verbraten. Per Maus und einer Reihe von Icons gibt man jedem einzelnen seiner Leute jeden einzeln Schritt genau vor, jede Waffe muß erst zur Hand genommen und geladen werden, anschließend darf man zielen und die Anzahl der abzufeuernden Schüsse bekanntgeben.

Natürlich finden nicht nur MG-Duelle statt, daneben schleicht sich vielleicht ein anderes Teammitglied von hinten an das Lagergebäude, Wachhäuschen etc. heran, dringt durch den Notausgang ein und sprengt die Kommandozentrale der Bösen in die Luft.

Das Kampfgebiet wird in Iso-3D à la "The Immortal" gezeigt, zur besseren Übersicht läßt sich jederzeit ein Radarscreen aufrufen, was allerdings wieder Aktionspunkte kostet. Optisch ist die blutrünstige Geschichte recht hübsch verpackt, die Animationen wirken realistisch, und die Grafik wartet vor allem im Inneren der (bei Annäherung "durchsichtig" werdenden) Gebäude mit vielen Details auf.

Der Sound ist dagegen weder musik- noch effektmäßig sonderlich berauschend. Was die logisch aufgebaute Steuerung betrifft, so wird sie reinen Ballerfreaks wahrscheinlich zu strategisch sein - aber die sind bei Sabre Team sowieso in der falschen Truppe... (C. Borgmeier)

Sabre Team logo

A 3D SAS game loosely based on the classic Laser Squad? It sure sounds like a recipe for success.

Ah, the SAS. After that memorable raid on the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, the SAS were forced into the public eye and what a shock it was for most people. The most secret of the secret services showed just how big and hard and clever they were by wiping out a load of terrorists without losing a single team member to 'friendly fire'. Then down the local for loads of drinks and tall stories about how touch and butch they all were. Not bad for a night out with the lads eh? So what has all this to do with a team running around with sabres? Well, actually, a Sabre Team is a four man SAS attack unit, trained to kill and keen to do it. Great, eh?

Krisalis have put their heads together and come up with a combat infiltration strategy simulator (God, if I have to see just one more combat/infiltration strategy simulator this month...) that puts you in direct control of one of these crack teams. And of course, since it is computer controlled, you won't have to go through the arduous training or suffer eating live worms on a wet weekend at Dartmoor, either (Hey, we said that they were tough, we did not say anything about them being smart).

So what does it take to become a cool commander of the toughest hombres in the world? Well, it takes three things - muscle, brawn, patience and brains. (Arf - Ed). Patience? Yes. Patience because this is a strategy game so you are not going to run all over the place with your finger twitching on the trigger, but before all the action nuts start to turn the page looking for an arcade game review, read on - you might just like this as well.

Sabre Team is a mixture of strategy with a little simulated combat thrown in. Okay, a lot of simulated combat. After all, this is the SAS and if they cannot fight they are about as much use as a pacifist in the Los Angeles Police Department.

Unlike some strategy games, Sabre Team is very pleasing to look at. The 3D view works really well, and for once common sense has come into play. After all you cannot see what is in a room until you enter it and you cannot see who is standing behind you unless you are facing them, can you? It also helps create a fair amount of atmosphere - imagine the scene as you face a closed door. Your energy is low and your guns is almost out of ammo. You have heard a noise in the room but you do not know whether it is a hostage, a terrorist or even one of your own men. Will you open the door and go in or wait for the rest of your party to catch up? You get old heroes and you get bold heroes but never old, bold heroes. The choice is yours.

Aside from the speed there is no problem with it

You get five missions to guide your team through and they are by no means easy. Although you get three skill levels you are still going to be put to the test. The strategy side of the game can be as intense as you want it to be - you can fuss around deploying your strongest men at strategic points and hunting down the terrorists, or you can just send your team in guns blazing to wipe out anything that moves. Both strategies could meet with a surprising amount of success, or on the other hand...

I must admit I did enjoy playing Sabre Team at first, the graphics are surprisingly good for a game like this. The controls are very easy to use and you think there is a lot to it. After all any game where you can shoot a suspect in the back without asking any questions and then go and stomp the body and nick any weapons worth having cannot be all bad? No, it is not (all bad, that is).

One major, major problem though, is the speed. I know it is a strategy game and so you do not expect to see 50 frames a second, but when the computer is working out its moves it can take absolutely ages. We have been assured by Krisalis that it is as fast as the Amiga can handle but I feel sure that it could have been done differently - look at the legendary Laser Squad if you want proof. As it stands it is a major hold-up and gets really annoying after a while.

Aside from this, though, there is nothing wrong with Sabre Team. The celar display and good graphics are attractive and easy to use. You will find it no problem to send your team wandering all over the place. Combat is just a case of spotting the enemy and deciding how much ammo to use on him - too much and you will waste it and have to use up action points reloading sooner, but not enough and he won't be dead, and then you will be sorry. When the enemy are making their moves they can attack you as well but providing your men have enough move points left over, and their reactions are fast enough they may get a free shot called an Opportunity Move.

The ideas in the game work really well and it is quite entertaining to play, if it was not for that damn slow computer thinking. If you like games that will make you think but are easy to get to grips with, then start looking at this. If however you do not like to be kept hanging around for ages doing nothing while the computer works out a move then look in the opposite direction before you turn to stone. Although the speed lets the gam down badly there are some interesting elements of gameplay that will hopefully attract both strategy and arcade fans. This is nice.

Sabre Team logo

Tony Dillon has always enjoyed wearing black, so what better game to review than Krisalis' new SAS strategic title...

You are in charge of one of the hardest, yet the most secretive squads in the world - the Sabre team. Other armies lead public attacks. Even the main part of the SAS end up on the news from time to time. Not you. No-one knows you even exist, let alone who you are. That is why when the going gets tough, they send you in.

Sabre Team is a low-level strategy played over five scenarios. In each, you take four of your eight team members, and guide them through the mission. Like most wargames, it is played out in turns, with you moving, firing, etc., followed by the computer doing similar activities, rather like Space Crusade.

Once you have chosen your four soldiers, selecting them on the basis of varying statistics such as strength, health, marksmanship and reaction time, you move into the first scenario. Unlike most games of this type, you can't choose which scenario to play, which adds a nice progressive touch. Once you have worked your way through the first level (rescuing P.O.W.s from a jungle camp), you can move onto some of the other offensives, which include entering an embassy to destroy terrorists and wiping out some hijackers of an ocean liner.

Before you can really start doing some damage, you have to get your team tooled up. The inventory for each player in turn is displayed, alongside the team's weapon inventory. There are 12 different offensive weapons to choose from, including automatic and semi-automatic rifles, two cans of CS gas, and stocks of each are limited. All weapons make varying amounts of noise when fired, and this is worth taking into account if you want to move without attracting too much attention.

It is worth bringing a fair bit of ammunition with you as well, but not so much as to slow you down. See, the game is getting strategic already.

At the start of each turn, each player has a full quota of 'Action points'. This is his lifeblood, and governs the amount of things he can do. Walking forward costs four points, for example, whereas firing a carefully aimed shot costs six.

The game is controlled by a small bank of icons at the bottom of the screen which contain all the options you could need, from picking up and dropping objects, to priming grenades, reloading weapons and even going into stealth mode, which means that each movement is a lot quieter, but costs more points. In the bottom right corner is your compass. This wonderful gadget not only controls your movements (clicking on a direction moves the current player that way), but also tells you in which direction you have heard someone's movement or even seen them, should they be off-screen.

Once all your movements are complete, the computer covers the screen and moves its own characters about. If none of your players have a direct view of a computer player, then you won't see it move.

The game is played out over some huge maps, displayed as scrolling isometric grids and they do look good. The attention to detail is stunning, right down to the way the soldiers raise rifles before firing.

I have always enjoyed this sort of game, from the day that Rebelstar Raiders was released on the Spectrum, and this is one of the best yet. The computer puts up a realistic fight, and this creates just enough suspense for you to hold your breath every time an enemy soldier raises their weapon. Good stuff.


Unlike most wargames, sound plays a very large part in Sabre Team. Firing a weapon draws unwanted attention your way, and most enemy soldiers will shout for back up as soon as they see you. All these noises are gloriously relayed through your TV, and it really does work. I lost count of the number of times I sat there swearing to myself as I worked a stealthy dance through some maze-like area of the level, getting ready to attack a particular area from behind, only to have some git step out of nowhere and warn everyone else of my presence. Naturally, he didn't live long enough to do it again...

Sabre Team AGA logo AGA

Krisalis 0709 372290 * £29.99 * Reviewed in non-AGA form AF41 87%

Armed force shenanigans as you command a team of SAS-type blokes in this strategy game, given an AGA upgrade over a years after its first appearance. All of the usual elements are involved - team members have differing abilities, there is an arsenal where you can pick up weapons and the idea is to rescue hostages or disable enemy weapons. Or jump through windows on a rope while wearing a black balaclava. The whole thing has been speeded up, full-colour screens have been added, along with extra speech.

Sabre Team AGA logo AGA

Who wants to really crouch in a bush with a gun, scared witless, when you can pretend?

You know that bit at the beginning of Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, where a massively booming voice tells you what to do in the event of an air attack? Well, Sabre Team has got bits in it that sound just like that, only this time you are being told things like "The terrorists have already killed one diplomat. Your team must rescue the remaining hostages".

It is obvious that who ever is saying these lines is a pro, not the programmer's dad, and it adds greatly to the atmosphere and professional gleam that shines off this product.

In the continuing rash of A1200 games that nothing more than the original with a few more colours, it is good to see that Krisalis have taken their time over this one and massively improved the original, although to just look at it, it seems exactly the same as the first version. Okay, there are loads of pretty stills that flash up between missions, but the improvements (he said mysteriously) lie elsewhere.

Sabre Team is a variant of that old gem Laser Squad, but with real people and situations (Er, Cam... - Ed). You are given a team of up to four SAS types, who are sent in to deal with various situations, usually of the rescue-the-hostages-and-kill-the-terrorists variety. The action is viewed from an isometric view, and you can always see your men because once they enter a room or building, the exterior walls vanish, to be replaced by lines on the floor.

There is also an impressive line of sight arrangement which highlights figures (be they terrorists, hostages or fellow team members) in other rooms, providing you have got a clear view of them through open doorways or windows. This means you can shoot terrorists from long ranges should they make the mistake of standing near windows, but more of that in a moment.

Gallows humour permeates the whole game

The action is broken down into the smallest elements possible, so playing the game is like watching the SAS storming the Iranian Embassy in extreme slow motion. Each team member has a number of action points, which is determined by their state of health (the more bullet hits, the fewer points) and also by how much equipment they are loaded down by. Walking, changing weapons, picking things up, shooting, and even pulling the pin out of a stun grenade all take up action points, and you have quickly got to learn to use them wisely (And not, for example, use up your last action points pulling the pin out of a grenade then not having any left to throw it with, so it blows up in your hand and wipes out half your team. Right, Cam? - Ed).

If you use them all in your round, and then a terrorist finds you in his round, you are dead meat, but if you leave enough to shoot him, then you get the opportunity to drop him before he gets you. Even rescued hostages get action points, but with their hands tied behind their back, all they can do is run.

The line-of-sight rules are crucial to gameplay, as it means that every open door you pass could place you in a terrorist's field of fire. Also, what your troops cannot see in their field of vision, you do not see, so it is vital to make sure that your team are arranged so they are looking in different locations, otherwise terrorists tend to blast you. Although the graphics are detailed and worthy of an arcade game, the appeal of Sabre Team is the amount of though that you have got to put into executing your raids.

Okay, all this goes for the original Sabre Team, but what makes this ten times more playable is that it is so fast. The first version took about five minutes to move the terrorists and hostages, which meant half they time you were twiddling your thumbs, but in this version, it is cut down to a few seconds, which means that a game takes about an hour, rather than the evening that it used to require. It is a game that makes you think, but is also exciting, and the only criticism I have got that it has only got five missions, which is not enough.

I would buy and pray for Krisalis to bring out data disks, because with more missions like this, you could play for ever.

Sabre Team AGA logo AGA


Sabre Team was an extremely exciting teambased strategy wargame when it first appeared some 12 months ago. For the most part, strategy games have really only held a corner of the market although titles like Laser Squad occasionally break through into the mainstream. Sabre Team was a very brave attempt at smashing down preconceptions of what a tactical wargame should look and play like, and to all intents and purposes it worked very well. Only one thing really held it back, and that was the fact that it was very slow. The amount of time you actually spent playing it compared to the lengths you had to wait for the computer opponent to go through the motions was too much for some people, and therefore it never really got all the credit nor sales it really deserved.

Sabre Team A1200 is a completely different kettle of fish. With the exception of a couple of levels switched about and a few other tweaks to the game, the actual gameplay and plot are the same as before. You control a team of four characters, chosen from a roster of eight, and have to go into combat areas in an SAS style attack, taking out everything from POW camps to foreign Embassies using a combination of skill, cunning and cool, calculated judgement.

The graphics have been greatly improved since the original game, with plenty of speech and other sound effects thrown in for good measure. Best of all, though, the waiting time has been cut almost completely. When you have finished your tun, you only need to wait a couple of seconds for the computer to figure out its moves, rather than the 40 or 50 seconds of the original. Anyone who has played the game does not need me to tell them how much more playable this finally makes the game.

Once a superb strategic blast that suffered from needless playability bugs, Sabre Team is now a superb strategic blast.

Sabre Team CD32 logo CD32

Every pub in the country has its own SAS member. Our claimed to be working undercover as a street cleaner during the week while sabotaging Iraqi airbases at the weekend. Strangely, we all believed it. Perhaps it has got something to do with Sabre Team (Krisalis 0709 372290), an isometric strategy game which pits a team of our toughest fighting men against an assortment of scumbags, terrorists and Third World dictators.

This is a turn-based game which awards a set number of action points to each member of your four man team. Once you have loaded your weapons and made your moves, the bad guy takes over and you sit there, fingers crossed, hoping he is not going to spot you before you blast the living daylights out of him.

This CD32 version is based on the Amiga AGA version and comes complete with 256-colour graphics and plenty of speech samples. The turn-based approach means the action is a little ponderous at times and in this version both the good guys as the terrorists have a nasty habit of disappearing thanks to some annoying programming bugs. The joystick controls are a little cumbersome too - you are better off using a mouse if you have one.

Sabre Team CD32 logo CD32

Die erste Version von Krisalis' Söldner-Strategical konnte schon vor zwei Jahren Schwächen nicht verbergen, doch die aktuellen Neuauflagen für A1200 und CD32 bauen noch weiter ab: Unübersichtliche Iso-Grafik sorgt in Tateinheit mit dem bescheuert agierenden Computer und einer hakeligen Pad-Steuerung für Spielerfrust statt Taktiklust.

Wer sich die Säbelraßler trotz lascher 53 Prozent antun will, sollte unbedingt per Maus kommandieren!

Sabre Team CD32 logo CD32

Krisalis, £30

A1200 version: 89%, AP35
There are no major changes between this and the A1200 version of the game, mainly because all the problems had been ironed out between the 500 and 1200 versions. However, you do get an improved soundtrack, complete with extra sound bites from Mr Voiceover Man, Krisalis' very own cool sounding due. Inexplicably, what you do not get are the extra two levels as promised a few months back. Yipes. What could have happened?

The game revolves around a four-man SAS unit and gameplay is similar to Laser Squad's, with movements and actions taking up points. It is slow-moving and immensely tactical, but thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing, and the only minor downer is that the game begs to be played with a mouse but you have got to use the joypad. Bah!