Eastern Front (1941)

aka: Eastern Front (1941): A Historic Military Strategy Game, Eastern Front 1941
Moby ID: 25271

Description

A strategic turn-based wargame for the Atari 8-Bit computer line. Eastern Front puts you in charge of the German armada as they start their infamous Russian campaign, or as it was known at the time "Operation Barbarossa". The game is played from an overhead scrolling map that encompasses the entire eastern European theater, and from which you select your units and issue orders based on their action points and strength which are defined by their appropriate control zones. Isolate units, and their strength starts to go down proportionally.

Only 1-player mode is supported against an AI that actually processes its moves between turns, giving out finer solutions the longer the player takes to make his moves.

Screenshots

Credits (Atari 8-bit version)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 63% (based on 4 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 7 ratings with 1 reviews)

The first really tough computer wargame

The Good
It's hard to describe the effect this game had on the wargaming market when it came out in '81. It was a bombshell that completely destroyed the competition.

To start with, this was the first wargame with a color smooth-scrolling map. Of course this was trivial only a few years later, but at the time it was a tour-de-force. It simply make the game seem much "larger". To put this in perspective, many "computer" wargames of the era simply listed out moves that the player had to complete on a paper map!

Additionally, the game took supplies, movement, fatigue and weather into consideration. It was much "deeper" than anything seen up to that point. The game forced the player to drive forward as quickly as possible to get room to maneuver. Failure to do so would always result in the slow and overwhelming suffocating by the hugely (numerically) superior Russian forces.

And to top it off, the computer played a half-way credible game. Of course this had a lot to do with their overwhelming numbers, but that wasn't all of it. New units appearing on the map would attempt to block your own movements, which was extremely frustrating to see in action.

When I first played it as a kid it crushed me every time. It wasn't until I went back and played it years later under emulation that I was able to beat it, and even then it was by no means assured.

Simply put, this was the supernova of computer wargaming.

The Bad
There were two things that were annoying but not fatal. One was the wait between reviewing existing orders and putting in new ones, which really didn't have to be there. The other was the slow scrolling around the map, which was a side effect of the machinery of the era.

But if there was anything that actually hurt the game was the inability to stack units. As a side effect of this, the Russian units would end up running into each other, and eventually form up into this large almost immobile blob. Of course as the Germans, you needed this to happen in order to have any chance, but it was still unrealistic and distracting.

The Bottom Line
Twenty-five years later this game is still ALMOST playable. If they had real scrolling and mouse support it would be great. Definitely beer-n-pretzels compared to some of the big games that have come out since, but just as definitely a great game anyway.

Atari 8-bit · by Maury Markowitz (266) · 2007

Trivia

Commercial success

Chris Crawford worked for 800 hours on this game, which he spent between January and August 1981. The game was a commercial success, 60,000 copies of the game were sold.

Release history

Eastern Front was released in three different variants. The first two were a 16 KB cassette version and a 32 KB floppy version with improved graphics. Both for the Atari 400 and both developed by Chris Crawford and released through Atari's APX (Atari Program Exchange), a semi-independent label which sold bare-bones releases mainly developed by independent programmers. Some APX games became so popular that eventually they received the full Atari treatment and got an "official" release. This is what happened with Eastern Front, which received its third and final release in 1982 for the Atari 800 in a 48 KB floppy version with improved AI and additional difficulty levels.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zovni.

Additional contributors: formercontrib, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST.

Game added December 26, 2006. Last modified March 5, 2024.