user avatar



Balance of Power: The 1990 Edition (Windows 3.x)

By Raphael on October 2nd, 2016

The Rise & Rule of Ancient Empires (Windows)

By Raphael on May 8th, 2006

Carmageddon 3: TDR 2000 (Windows)

By Raphael on August 21st, 2003

Rise of Nations (Windows)

By Raphael on June 18th, 2003

Europa Universalis II (Windows)

By Raphael on January 15th, 2002

Panzer Elite (Windows)

By Raphael on January 15th, 2002

Europa Universalis (Windows)

By Raphael on December 17th, 2001

Shogun: Total War - Warlord Edition (Windows)

By Raphael on August 20th, 2001

Cutthroats: Terror on the High Seas (Windows)

Forget Battlecruiser 3000 AD. Cutthroats is the worst game ever made.

The Good
The only redeeming qualities of the game are some of the graphics (menus, sea battles, ships), and the music is pretty good.

The Bad
How many pages do I have here?

"Cutthroats: Terror on the High Seas" (it should be "Cutthroats: Terror on the Hard Drive") is THE most bug filled, poorly programmed piece of garbage to ever be released commercially. I caution anyone against ever buying anything released by Hothouse Creations or Eidos Interactive.

There are so many things wrong with this game on so many levels it's difficult to know where to begin. First, it is unstable. It crashes a lot. Most of the basic functions of any game (saving, loading, etc.) don't work. For example, if you're playing a game and you have the Trade Menu open and start a new game, it doesn't clear out all the variables/data, and things you had done in the old game will carry over to the new game. It will crash immediately. This type of bug occurs for other things. Like if you have a mission from a governor and start a new game, the mission is still in effect and you can get penalized in the new game if you had failed the mission previously. The only choice is to restart the computer (not just the game!) to clear it out. This is really basic stuff.

When you sail to a port a menu is supposed to appear asking if you want to dock in the harbor, land at the beach, cruise, or anchor. Sometimes this message doesn't appear, and when it doesn't you're stuck (it's crashed).

The whole issue of transferring items is another thing. If you've bought cargo it's transferred to the dock where you have to put each item on a ship. The word "Cargo" is highlighted if there are items on the dock. The problem is, the word stays hilighted if all the items are removed (a very basic problem). Things are bought and sold with a slider bar or a left/right arrow. Unfortunately, there's no way to cancel a transaction, so if you just accidentally sold an item for 20$ you'll have to buy it back for more. All because of an accidental mouse click.

To transfer an item to a ship, you have to click on the down arrow next to the ship ("off the dock"). To put it on the dock, you click the up arrow ("on the dock"). However, you can only see 1 item at a time. This is a very poor interface. For example, each cannon needs 3 men to operate. So you have to switch between the cannon and gunner item on the left-hand side menu. If you move all the Gunners off the dock (onto a ship) and click on another ship and think you can move some of them to the dock, you'll be frustrated to find out that it deselected the Gunners item. Then you have to move the mouse back over, select Gunners, then move back to the ship and figure out which arrow to press. This is crazy. If they had at least not made it deselect the item that would've saved a lot of frustration.

It would've also been nice if they'd included a counter that showed how many more gunners you need, or how many cannons you could add for the amount of gunners you have. The way it is, you have to always find how many gunners you have and divide by 3. This would take a step out of the game that the user shouldn't have to bother with.

When you hire an officer and put him on a ship, even though there is a scroller on the ship's display, it won't scroll to see the other officers.

There are 5 nationalities represented: England, France, Spain, Holland, and Denmark. I went through the voice files for the governors on the hard drive, and the guy is reading from a script. Every nationality uses the same phrases, and the voice acting is terrible (I think all the governors' voices are done by the same person). The accents do not sound like the accents of the different languages represented, and they all sound similar. Because all the phrases are the same, this is very inefficient as far as hard drive space. They probably could've just figured out some slight flange effect to use for each accent and used one set of the phrases and just mixed them with the flange. This would've saved about 40MB of HD space.

There are also some audio files, the exact same files, that appear in more than one directory. They could've probably saved at least 10MB of hard drive space if they'd just used the one file.

The sea battles are the only moderately fun part of the game. However, sometimes winning a battle is next to impossible. I've outnumbered enemy ships 4-1 and lost them all. Part of this is due to the horrific pathfinding, which I will go into more detail when I talk about land battles. In the 4-1 battle, I ordered my ships to fire at the enemy Frigate. My ships all just ran into each other and never fired a shot, unable to get out of the internal loop that could never figure out a path for them around each other. In frustration I just sat there and watched. I'm not going to order each individual ship to move in a certain direction to get into firing position. The damn game is supposed to move them.

The only hope is that the enemy ships will surrender when you raise the Jolly Roger. Sometimes you'll encounter a fleet with a 32-gun Galleon, a 16-gun Frigate, and a 10-gun Brig and they'll surrender to your fleet of 2 slow, heavily laden, 10-gun Brigs. Next encounter your ships will all be sunk by a single Frigate. Completely pointless...

You're supposed to be able to sail under any of the flags of the 5 countries by clicking on the flag. Sometimes when you click on one flag it shows another. Very basic...

Now, the worst part of the game: the land battles. The graphics are mortifying 2D sprites, and are very hard to look at. The units move painfully slow. I timed it, and it took a pirate soldier 1:09 to move from one side of the window to the other. When you consider that the whole map is about 10-15 window-widths wide, you can see how long it'll take to take over a town (and you have to make numerous trips to and from the treasure chest on the beach your soldiers start at, which is usually very far from the town, to carry gold back from the town. Your soldiers can only carry so much gold at a time).

Getting the soldiers/cannons to fire or attack anything is incomprehensibly difficult. The first challenge you have is to select one of your units. This is hard because of several factors. The cursor isn't very accurate, so selecting a specific unit is hard. It's even harder if you want to pick a unit in the middle of other units, or if the unit is behind something (in which case there's no way to tell it's there, unlike a far superior game like Age of Empires II which shows an outline of things behind buildings). Unlike most RTS games, the strength bar is below the unit, so if it's in a group of other units the strength bars are covered up.

In Age of Empires II, at the bottom of the screen it has a window that shows what units are selected. C:TOTHS has nothing like this. It has several hotkey buttons which you can click to select one of several pre-defined groups, but if you select one the button doesn't give any indication that that it is selected. The only way you can know what units are selected is if you can see their power bar. This assumes they aren't covered by another group or a tree, building, etc.

If you can select the unit, then moving it is the next part. The programmers must've graduated last in their class, because these units are completely incapable of finding a path to the point you want them to go to if they have to go around a corner, and it's even worse if you're trying to move a cannon and you want it behind a building it can attack. It will either just sit there or fire at the building. Units also get stuck when there are other friendly units in the way of their path. They'll just move around in circles, unable to get around, and the only recourse is to manually move them around.

If you can get the unit to move, then the final challenge is getting it to fire at a target. You would think that cannons would have a long range, right? Well not so! They can only fire about 3 or 4 squares. Their range is about the same as muskets. Selecting an enemy unit to fire at is incredibly hard. As you can see from the screenshots the sprites are tiny, and if you want to fire at an enemy unit about the only thing you can do is wait till it stops moving.

Actually getting units to fire is next to impossible. Cannons, muskets, pistols... they all just SIT THERE and don't do anything no matter how many times you click on an enemy unit. Even if you order a cannon to fire at an immobile building it has to advance to within at least 4 squares to fire at it, and even then most of the time you have to order it to fire 8 or 10 times before it fires. And it will only fire one time per order! You have to keep ordering and keep ordering the cannons to fire! So frustrating! And if you select a group of cannons, forget it... only one will fire, and that's after it gets really close. The other cannons will move up behind the one that fires but will move around in circles and never into firing position, unable to find the path.

Just forget about ordering muskets or pistols to fire. If you select a pirate musketeer and click on an enemy unit to attack, he won't use the musket, he'll go out and use his cutlass. You're supposed to be able to select the weapon to use, but they never use it. The only time they fire muskets is when an enemy unit comes into range and you don't order them to attack it. And it takes an unbelievable amount of musket hits to kill an enemy unit. This is historically completely inaccurate.

In the game, you have 2 ratings: Fame and Infamy. For glorious things like capturing ships, completing missions, etc. you get fame. For killing civilians and murdering ship crews you get infamy. The more infamy you have, the more pirate hunters will search for you. The problem is, because of the unfathomably bad interface in land battles you always end up accidentally killing civilians. I mean, when a battle is going on, women and children are just wandering around the town and come up to your pirate gangs and raise their arms in surrender. Would this happen in real life? I would think the women and children would run and hide. This is ridiculous. There are so many women & children walking around amidst the gun and cannon fire you can't help but accidentally kill them. This increases your infamy and your chances of getting killed later in the game.

Getting units to cross bridges is an exercise in patience. They get part of the way across the bridge, and the only way to get them to cross it is to repeatedly click at the very end of the bridge.

I haven't convinced you already that this is a horrible game, SEVEN patches have been released. Most games only have 1 or 2, but as of 7/14/00, this one has had SEVEN! And all these bugs I described above are STILL in it. Look at this line from the Cutthroats official page under the patch section:

"Turrets no longer fire after being destroyed. (Honest, it is fixed this time)."

As you can see, there are problems that they claimed were fixed but really weren't. And look at this:

"You can now start the game in 1705, 1710, 1715 or 1720."

I really think they should concentrate on the fundamental problems and not adding more things which could cause even more bugs. This is insanity.

I recommend that you go to the Cutthroats page and just look at the list of bug fixes. That alone should turn you away. There are so many they only have the list back to Patch Version 4!

When you end a game, it shows a list of the credits. I would be embarrassed to be listed among them, and I would hide in shame.

The Bottom Line
Don't ever under any circumstances ever buy any Hothouse Creations or Eidos Interactive products. Trust me.

This is just another game full of empty promises and hours of frustration. It's a complete waste of money. They sucker you in with a colorful box, some wild claims ("Sophisticated real-time strategy engine", "intelligent non-player ships", etc.) and some nice screenshots. You pay for it and bring it home and the game out of the box absolutely does not work, and you have no recourse. Most stores won't let you return software, so you're stuck. Therefore, the only advice I can give you is to never buy this game or any other Hothouse/Eidos games.

By Raphael on May 16th, 2001

Balance of Power (DOS)

They don't make 'em like this anymore... Cold War, anyone?

The Good
This is easily one of the classiest games ever made... how did Chris Crawford do it almost single-handedly?? When I got this game back in the mid-80's I had recently become a teen-ager, and BOP helped me learn about the Cold War. I was able to see how "geopolitics" worked. Plus, my friend and I had a great time bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. ;) They should make students in "World Since '45"-type classes play this game to learn about Cold War politics.

I didn't really see the need for all the background information it gave for the countries. Basically all that was important was stuff like who the government liked, or who their insurgents liked. :) In fact, Chris wrote in the manual, "This mode is not necessary to the play of the game. It presents information that is interesting and useful for someone unfamiliar with the countries of the world... it is included for your curiosity." But you just don't find that type of thing in today's games. Today's games are all hype and fancy graphics and require a computer that doesn't exist yet and you come away from them with nothing... BOP was made by one guy who cared passionately about his own personal game. He made it because he loved what he was doing, and he did an incredible job; by sharing his game with the world, he has done a great deed. He was able to make a true educational and entertaining game. There are virtually no games like this made anymore.

Thank you, Chris Crawford.

The Bad
Well, there wasn't really any sound, but this type of game doesn't really need sound.

My only complaint really is that it doesn't seem like 8 years is quite long enough. I think the game might have been a little better if it took place over, say, 20 years or something like that to give the world events more time to develop (this would definitely be better suited to BOP: the 1990 Edition!).

The Bottom Line
This game will teach you about the Cold War. You'll learn about insurgencies, how coup d'etats affected the geopolitical balance, what Diplomatic Affinity was, what "Finlandization" was, and just how easy it would have been for the US and USSR to go to nuclear war. Cold War, anyone?

By Raphael on May 16th, 2001

Silent Service II (DOS)

By Raphael on May 11th, 2001

DX-Ball (Windows)

By Raphael on April 19th, 2001

Shogun: Total War (Windows)

Take Risk, add some RTS, a dash of AOE, and stir. Enjoy!

The Good
Shogun combines it's strategic and tactical elements almost perfectly. Compared to another similar-in-concept game such as Star Wars: Rebellion, Shogun is infinitely better in both.

The tactical battles are fun, and the fact that they're 3D makes it even better. Rebellion let you scroll around in 3D, but the graphics in Shogun are far superior. When Rebellion came out, it's graphics were dated, but Shogun gives us beautiful landscapes and weather effects that are the best I've seen in any game.

The music is excellent, and the Japanese-accented voice acting is perfect. The strategic board reminds me so much of that board game Risk, and the sounds of the pieces really sound like some old game/chess board.

I also like that even though you can be hopelessly outnumbered, you can still win battles if your forces are superior to the enemy. I think that the way they make it so that battle-hardened veterans are better than green soldiers (through the honor system) is so rewarding. Some other games, like AOE2, don't feature this.

The variety of units is perfect. Because each unit has certain strengths and weaknesses, tactical battles become almost a chess match (or rock-paper-scissors): Ashigaru/Samurai beat Cavalry, No-Dachi samurai and Warrior Monks beat Ashigaru/Samurai, Cavalry beat No-Dachi and Archers, etc. (Of course, these are generalizations and not necessarily always true) :)

The Ninjas/Geisha are fun to use. It's always exciting to watch the animations to see if your ninjas will succeed, and to hope that your generals will be able to sense enemy ninjas when they come for them.

I learned more about medieval Japan from this game than from any other place.

The Bad
They need to add on to the diplomatic part of the game. Alliances are basically useless unless your ally dies and you get some of his land.

The amount of buildings and upgrades you can make to provinces and other buildings are impressive, but it can get a little unmanageable when you conquer about 10-15 provinces. You should be able to queue up more units and buildings. Why did they limit it to only 6?

There's really not much to complain about.

The Bottom Line
Shogun is a great game. The excellent graphics and sound are backed-up by great gameplay and exciting battles. It's definitely worth the price!

By Raphael on March 3rd, 2001

Star Wars: Rebellion (Windows)

By Raphael on January 3rd, 2001

Starlancer (Windows)

By Raphael on January 2nd, 2001

MechWarrior 4: Vengeance (Windows)

The improvements and regressions balance out to make this an average game

The Good
The graphics are pretty good. They're better than the previous MWs and better than Starsiege, but this is to be expected as technology advances. The story is actually pretty good. Instead of fighting in some impersonal military action, as the box says, "this time it's personal". I thought the acting was particularily good, as the actors actually show emotion. This is so hard to find in games, and particularily in 'Mech-type games. So often it sounds like the actors are just sitting there looking into a teleprompter and reading from a script. Towards the end of the campaign the acting is excellent.

The opening movie is awesome. It makes me wonder how far we are away from a MW movie!

I thought the sounds and music were also pretty good. I was impressed to see that they practically had a symphony orchestra doing the music.

They made it so that collision damage occurs. This is something I'd wanted to see for a long time. Now you can ram enemies! Also, you can step on those annoying tanks and other vehicles and crush 'em. That's great!

The Bad
What are they thinking?!?! Why is there no indication of which weapons or weapons group you have selected??? How did this make it out of beta testing? Did those beta testers have a different version of the game? Every previous version of MW gives a clear indication of which weapons group you have selected (they are hilighted or rectangled or something), but in this version there's no way to know. There's also no way to know which firing mode you're in. Previous MWs had a female voice that would say something like "Chain fire selected" or "Group fire selected". In this, there is no voice, and no visual indication! I absolutely can't fathom why they didn't include this.

The next big thing is, of course, the concept of designated hard points they introduce. Now I've never played the BattleTech RPG (the paper version), but I've played through MW2 and 3 and all the add-ons for them. I'm sure the paper version is the same as those two: you can customize your Mech however you want. Each Mech location (head, right arm, etc.) has a certain amount of critical spaces for which to put whatever you want on.

This game completely changes this fundamental part of BattleTech, and reduces it to the miserable level of Earth/Starsiege, by not only limiting the amount of critical spaces available, but by designating most of them for a specific class of weapon (Missile, Ballistic, Laser). Like so many other games, they are slowly dumbing-down the players. Why did they put these restrictions in? Did it make it easier to program? It certainly does not benefit the players. The best thing about MW was the ability to have complete freedom over how to design your 'Mech, and they have taken this from us. Thanks, Bill Gates.

In MW3, when you would blast an arm off, you'd see it go flying and it would land somewhere. In this one, it just disintegrates. Also, they had made it so that if you damaged a leg, it would limp. This, too, is gone. These little details added to the realism, but for some inexplicable reason, they removed them. It's neat that lasers will burn the paint off, and the 'Mechs spark, pour out smoke, and burn (nice effects!), but I'm still waiting on bullet holes!

The combat in general takes forever. It takes a very long time to destroy even small 'Mechs. You and your 3 lancemates can pound an enemy 'Mech, and it can take several minutes for it to go down. I like it challenging, and it's not so bad that it detracts from the game, but they should make the weapons do a little more damage.

The Bottom Line
If you've gotten the previous MW games, you should get MW4. It has some small problems and those 2 inexcusable problems I described above, but hopefully these will be fixed in patches or player MODifications. Overall it isn't that bad.

By Raphael on December 28th, 2000

Aces of the Pacific (DOS)

AOTP leaves a lot to be desired.

The Good
The sheer amount of planes is amazing! I don't know of any other flight sim that comes close. Also, because you can fight on land and sea, it adds a whole dimension that Battlehawks 1942 didn't have. These advantages are mainly due to the fact that BH42 came out 4 years earlier, when harddrives were just becoming standard, so they couldn't put as many "goodies" in because of space constraints. The graphics are pretty nice. You can identify most of the US planes, and the clouds, blackouts, and sunouts are very nicely done.

The sound of the guns and also the rate of fire are better represented than they are in the Lawrence Holland Trilogy.

The Bad
So many things to list. First, the busywork of HAVING to take off every mission and not being able to engage the autopilot until 250 feet off the ground is very frustrating. It should just put you directly into the action, or at least make it optional.

Planes are just too hard to hit when they get in close. The guns are harmonized too far out. I guess this is for historical accuracy, but it's so frustrating!

The accelerate time function has to be accessed by pressing F10 and then moving a slider bar. This is way too inefficient.

The whole process of dive-bombing is next-to impossible. The ships don't show smoke or damage, so there's practically no way to know if you hit (unless you happen to catch the on-screen message that says you hit). After releasing your bombs, you always get shot down by a hail of AA fire, unless you press A to autopilot away (?!?!).

The US planes, allegedly far tougher and able to take lots of damage, are like paper airplanes... about 2 or 3 hits and your dead. Many Japanese planes can take more damage.

Once really nice thing about most other flight sims is that at the end of the mission you get to see what types of planes you shot down. At the end of the career or campaign, you can go back and look at how many of each type of plane you've shot down over your career. This game not only doesn't show you what you shot down during each mission (it just gives a total number of planes), but it keeps no career records. All you're left with is an anonymous number of total kills. This is very unrewarding.

Most of the Japanese planes look alike, so it's impossible to tell what type of plane you're flying against.

The mission recorder is really poor. When trying to position the camera, you can't move it vertically. For example, to move down, you have to tilt the camera down and move forward (down) until you get to the desired elevation, then tilt it back up. If they had just added an up/down control, it would've been sooo much easier to use.

The Bottom Line
Even though this game has a lot more planes to choose from than the Lawrence Holland Trilogy, it really falls short in most other areas. I can't recommend it.

By Raphael on May 12th, 2000

Aces of the Pacific: Expansion Disk - WWII: 1946 (DOS)

By Raphael on May 11th, 2000

Close Combat: The Battle of the Bulge (Windows)

One word: Frustration!

The Good
They finally introduced airstrikes! This was such a critical part of WW2, it's about time they added it to the CC series. The strategic map offers some interesting possibilities. After that though, it goes downhill...

The Bad
They took CC3, removed everything that made it great, and gave us this. Playing from the US side will give you nothing but frustration (I haven't even played from the German side yet because the US side is so hard).

They gave us the dumbed-down names for all the units: instead of seeing "M4 Sherman", you now get "Medium Tank". Yes, you can rename all the units, but that'll take forever and the new names won't "stick" if you lose the mission and have to replay, so then you have to rename all 15 units again. ARGH!

Playing from the US side is practically impossible. You're facing almost nothing but German tanks and halftracks, and yet you have practically no Anti-Tank weapons to face them!!! The best weapons the US has are AT guns, but you can only get a maximum of about 2 in a battle group and the German tanks have X-Ray vision so they can destroy anything in a building, even if it would be impossible for them to know there was anything in the building in reality. GRRRR!!

That's another thing... why did they take the Requisition System out?!?! My most favorite part of CC3 was building up an awesome and diverse force through Requisition Points that would be a good mix of infantry, tanks, and support units, all of which had a lot of AT ability. You can't do this anymore. You have absolutely no say in what forces you are given. ARGH!

The US might as well not even have any tanks. They are absolutely worthless. IF you have a US Tank Battle Group vs. a German one, you will lose every time. In most cases, the best you can do is just break even. It is historically accurate that the US tanks were nothing compared to the German ones, but they need to somehow represent that the US outnumbered the Germans (although at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge the US was outnumbered, but they did bring in reinforcements). You gradually get more tank units over the course of the game, but there just aren't enough. Almost every German BG is a tank BG. This is compounded by the fact that of the US Infantry BGs, you will probably have only 1 or 2 AT guns, and maybe 1 or 2 bazooka units (which are totally worthless. They only have 4 rounds, and will almost always miss every time).

What makes the US tanks so worthless is that their armor is like paper (some are "open-topped" so that they can be destroyed simply with machinegun fire... what's the point of that???), their turrets turn more slowly, they're slower, they react faaar more slowly to attack, and they take more thank twice as long as a German tank to reload. The last thing is the most frustrating, because if you have two tanks firing at each other, the German tank will always win. The only hope you have from the American side is to somehow surprise the German tank, but the surprise will literally only last for one shot (which, if it hits, will not destroy the German tank but bounce off), because the German tank will quickly rotate its turret and knock out your tank in one shot. GGGGGRRRRR!

Playing from the American side is just not fun.

Airstrikes and artillery barrages are pretty much useless too. An artillery barrage "consists of 4 80mm mortars firing at once" for 40-60 rounds around an area you designate. The problem is, they never hit anything! Airstrikes are similar: a single aircraft is randomly selected (for the US, it could be a P-38, P-51, P-51, or B-26; for the Germans, Bf-109, Ar-234, Me-262, or FW-190), it flies out to the target, and makes one attack run (bombs, rockets, machine guns, or cannons) and flies off. If they're gonna try to make it historically accurate, they could at least send 2 or 3 planes, or 1 plane that makes several passes over the target. Some people on the message forum complain that airstrikes make it too easy, but in my experience of probably 40 missions, I've only been able to call in about 4 airstrikes and only 2 have hit anything.

If a tank/vehicle is destroyed, the crew will bail out but they move to the nearest cover and will not respond to any orders. In all the previous CCs, you could order them around and have them reinforce your lines. This is totally unacceptable. Why did they remove this? What were they thinking?? (Note: a patch has been released that fixes this so that you can issue orders to them.)

There's really not much to like about this game from the American side. There are probably more things I could say, but I think these will be enough to show you what a poor entry in the CC series this is.

The Bottom Line
Buy CC3 instead!

By Raphael on May 1st, 2000

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (Windows)

By Raphael on May 1st, 2000

Command & Conquer: Red Alert (Windows)

By Raphael on November 30th, 1999

Wing Commander: Prophecy (Windows)

By Raphael on November 30th, 1999

Scorched Earth (DOS)

By Raphael on November 10th, 1999

Task Force 1942 (DOS)

I need an exterminator!

The Good
Task Force 1942 is a great idea for a game. It has a lot of different types of ships, all heavily researched and accurately represented in terms of their statistics (armor thickness, gun size, types of guns, etc.). The graphics are very good (not great), and there are a lot of interesting details (ships can burn in multiple locations, they stream smoke, they can run aground, some will continue to move as they sink as in real life, etc.).

All 3 dimensions of war are represented: land, sea, and air. This is awesome... very few games feature all 3.

The music is pretty good. The little newsreel-type cutscenes are great and create a real WWII atmosphere.

The Bad
BUGS! This game had more bugs than an ant farm. The first version was horrendous (ships would go through land, among other things), and they released a patch which fixed some bugs but introduced new ones.

Here is a list of some bugs I found: Can't stop search planes. The speed of Task Groups would go to maximum and you couldn't change it. Windows cover the ships. The time acceleration rate on the tactical map will change randomly. Japanese ships will sometimes go to 30 knots regardless of their type (we're talking transports and slow ships which are supposed to have a maximum speed of 12 kts!). Torpedo director refuses to lock onto and track a target. Lead ship or other ships in a Task Group will sometimes go off on their own and refuse to respond to orders. Ships will refuse to turn when you order them to. You will magically get 2 or more of the same ship. And on and on!

After I bought this game, I swore that I would never buy another Microprose game, and I didn't until 1998 when European Air War came out (six years later). There is absolutely no excuse for a game to have that many bugs.

It's very difficult to see the shells you fire during day battles. You need a high contrast monitor with the contrast turned all the way up. It's hard to see them at night too.

The aiming and firing system uses one similar to actual WWII ships, which used an analog computer that took data in from various sources and tried to figure out the "firing solution", the correct elevation and amount of powder to use for the barrels and shells, respectively. When you lock onto a target in TF42, the solution will gradually increase and eventually reach 100%, at which time you'd think that if you lined up the crosshairs it would guarantee a hit. Not so! Aiming the guns is really hard unless you're close to the enemy ship.

This means that the whole aiming and firing aspect of the game, which should be the most fun part, is very unrewarding and needlessly difficult. If you can hardly see your shells, and it's hard to aim, what good is that? The only other option is to just sit there and watch the computer aim and fire the guns, but that's pointless... firing the guns is really the most "interactive" part of the game. You might as well rent a WWII movie.

I realize that making it hard to aim does make it more realistic, but too much so. I think they needed to find a better balance of realism and fun. Having a game fully realistic but impossible to play isn't fun, and fun should be the bottom line for any type of game.

Also, some of these issues bring up a question: are these things bugs (for example, ships going off on their own) or just poor implementations? I could see that maybe they were trying to show the "fog of war", in which units can become confused because of all the action going on around them as happens in real war, but I couldn't find any references to this in the manual. If this is what they were trying to show, there should be some way of letting the player know why the ship is going off on its own (for example, the unit doesn't have line of sight to the target and is trying to find a way around the smoke). But to just have it go off for no reason and no explanation in the manual leads me to believe that this is a bug.

Even though there is fighting on land, sea, and air, it could have been implemented better. You have very limited control over the air units. Basically, you can only control search planes; attack planes (bombers and fighters) act on their own. You should be able to choose the planes and what they attack. I know this wouldn't work with the premise of the game in that you are the naval commander, but maybe they should have expanded the player's role in order to make it more interesting? In addition, you have no control over the marines other than transporting them and transporting supplies to them. You have no control over if, where, what, and when they attack. It would have been really awesome if they could have incorporated some sort of RTS battle system for the land battles, but that wasn't their focus.

The sound effects are good, but there aren't enough of them. You can only hear explosions (guns firing and when the ship is hit) on the one ship that you can control at a time. They should have made it so you could hear explosions all around the ship, splashes, shouting, metal twisting, ships creaking, etc.

The Bottom Line
Don't waste your money. It could have been great, but everyone in the testing department must've taken leave of their senses!

I wrote a few letters to Microprose telling them about all the bugs, and they sent me another full copy of the game thinking that something might be wrong with my disks, but that wasn't the problem... the game was just poorly programmed.

By Raphael on November 10th, 1999

Street Sports Basketball (DOS)

By Raphael on November 10th, 1999

[ Page 1 ] [ Next ]