Clank clank clank wheeeee bang

Tank Attack logo

GENERAL Montgomery stand aside. What with digitised noises and animated tanks, they'll be sending me a draft card next. It's a board game. No it's not, it's a computer simulation. Well, it's a bit of both really.

The box contains a board - handy to keep track of the game - a disc, 48 playing pieces, a manual and a key sheet. Four superpowers are at war; two, three or four players can run a tank corps each and do the predictable wargaming take-the-enemy-HQ thing.

Alliances are made, it's to war. Information is found in an onscreen newspaper, the War News, which appears before a move and reports the day's fighting. Weather forecasts are to be found here, too.

There are two kinds of armoured car and three types of tanks, giving a firepower variance of phutt to boom, which adds to the realism of a sometimes confusing game. Jumping from screen to board and back is annoying - a screen which showed the map would have been nice.

Anyway, on to the reason we're all here: The payoff. There is no point in playing any military simulation if there isn't a kill at the end. The kill in Tank Attack is the gratification that your strategy and planning has worked. In a refreshing change from "Take the pieces off the board" or "You have been defeated", Tank Attack rolls up its sleeves and puts you right in there.

The central window of the display becomes a pair of binoculars, and you can view the action as it takes place. A tank rumbles into view and fires a salvo at an enemy tank. It's here that the Amiga does some work. The range, conditions and type of tank or armoured car are worked out, along with the trajectory and the probability of a miss, hit or wipe out.

The ominous rumble and clank of the tank and the explosion as the shell bursts are generations on from the pathetic pops and bangs wargamers on other computers are used to. With the Amiga connected to the hi-gi and the volume turned up a twidge, my next door neighbour and here cat surrendered.

The screen has info about which country is playing plus the status of its units and battlefield data. It is possible to repair damaged vehicles and even rebuild destroyed ones.

The central section of the screen alternates between the bins for watching tanks shoot it out and a teleprinter whicht tells you how much damage or destruction was wreaked.

The lower part of the screen is the command panel, with highly original and conversely cute animated icons for unit movement, attacking the enemy HQ and battlefield options. Clicking an icon of your leader passes control of the game on to the next player.

After the War News at the start of a move you give orders for movement after which you can fire on any units which are close enough. If you attack the enemy HQ, it goes up with a very satisfying bang.

Because the computer takes no part in the actual game, acting rather as a surrogate gameboard and calculator, some of the decisions must be made verbally by each of the two to four human players. For instance, you must announce which of your units will fire before progressing into battle.

The pass-on icon of your leader is always active, which means that if for strategic reasons you want to force another player to move, you can skip your turn. Nice.

All in all, Tank Attack is a fairly standard strategy wargame with a few nice touches. The digitised sound, the animation and the animated icons set it aside.

Tank Attack logo


It is yet another one of those computer board game thingies from CDS, the company that invented, in the words of our Ed, 'The best game ever', Brian Cloughs Football Fortunes. This time they are trying something a little more aggressive than football (is there such a thing?), war.

Inside the large cardboard box you receive a fold out map of the four game provinces, the game disk, game instructions and a plastic bag full of little plastic tanks and armoured cars. This is how the game works. Each of the players (2-4) have a small army of their very own province. In each province is a base. The idea is to get a tank onto one of your opponent's bases and destroy it, thereby eradicating them.

The actual game movement all takes place on the board. However, all the game calculations take place on the computer, allocating the amount of movement points as well as deciding the results of any battle that take place with some glorious battle graphics.

Loads of fun, involving as Brian Clough's Cloughy Cloughy, and definitely worth getting, but only if you have got a friend who will play it with you.