Title Conflict: Middle East Game Type Strategy Company US Gold/SSI, 1991 Players 1 Compatibility Kickstart 2.0x or earlier HD Installable Yes(?) Submission Callas Review Conflict: Middle East sees the player taking on the role of the Israeli Prime Minister in 1997 after the assassination of his predecessor. Your goal is to topple the Governments of the Arabic states with which you share a border. The game ends if Israeli is defeated in war or when all the other Governments have fallen. Each turn consists of setting diplomatic and intelligence policy towards the other Government and then making military decisions - which weapon systems to buy from which supplier with your arms budget, whether to deploy troops on the border with another country, whether to invade, and so on. The game very effectively presents to the player the development of events and relationships between countries and the pace at which these relationships change, and gives the player a straightforward and effective interface through which to influence the course of events. Since the player does indeed have powerful means with which to effect the course of events (diplomacy, alliances, intelligence work to subvert Governments and of course troop deployment and invasion) the game generates a high degree of involvement; you are aware of what is happening around you, and you know your own goals, and as you try to achieve those goals you can both predict and then see the impact your actions have on the situation. This contrasts to larger scale strategy games where each turn is but a small increment in the overall strategy and your actions at any given time typically have only a small impact on the overall flow of events. Conflict operates on a much more intense and short lived scale; turns are briskly done and a single game is played out in perhaps 30 minutes. Conflict is a rarity; a quick but meaningful strategy game. A strategy game for the player who has not the patience for the long drawn out turns of the typically heavyweight strategy game. After playing two dozen games or so, players will ultimately find a lack of depth in the game. There are optimal solutions which are uncovered and once these are known, the game is understood. This isn't perhaps surprising because the initial conditions can't really vary very much; the countries are what they are - the only things which differ are their moods towards Israel at the start of the game, and this is after all a lightweight game with a specifically limited scope. Conflict does however have some issues. Firstly, the interface isn't quite perfect; it does become tedious to use since every turn you have to set policy regarding the other countries. Typically you're performing exactly the same action as you performed last turn. What you really want is for your policy to continue to be performed until you change something, but this isn't the case. Performing the same set of twenty or so policy decisions every turn does become tedious. Secondly, the way your arms budget can be used is flawed. Each turn you receieve so many million dollars to spend on arms. If you have less than 50 million you can buy nothing since the lowest priced contract you can buy is 50 million. However, you can buy a contract which is massively in excess of your current budget as long as you have more than the 50 million necessary to get to the contract screen; so for example, with 51 million in the bank, you can buy 175 million dollars worth of jet fighters - leaving you 124 million in debt but which seems to simply disappear next turn (e.g. is not subtracted from next months budget). Finally, and more seriously, there are a number of bugs in Conflict. These fall into two classes; the first class are minor (although still irritating) and appear to either be present in a game from the off or not present at all. The second class are serious bugs which will ruin your game but only manifest themselves if the game has been going on for a long time. The minor bugs are; 1. Wars sometimes don't work properly. You outnumber your enemy in every respect, but he gains territory instead of you. 2. Your budget is not properly carried over each month. What you don't spend one month should be available the next month; sometimes it isn't. The serious bugs (which manifest after a long game) are; 1. The game can crash. 2. Saved games don't always reload. 3. After you've played for a long time, you start being given weird value arms purchasing agreements each turn, even though you didn't buy them. 4. Once the game reaches 2002, your defence budget drops to 0%. Why, I don't know. 5. It appears if you refuse to give an undertaking not to increase the size of Israel's army after the year 2002, your international prestige drops to "none". 6. If you do REALLY well and conquer all four countries, the game hangs on the last turn. That is VERY, VERY ANNOYING. Also note the game uses hardcoded loops for delays, rather than actual timing, so when running on machines faster than 7 MHz 68000, the message boxes which sometimes come up disappear very quickly. However, despite the flaws, Conflict is still a very high quality game; fun, constantly involving and easy to play, probably something everyone should try. The heavyweight strategiest will enjoy it as a tasty snack, the shoot'em'up players will get to enjoy a type of game they would normally ignore.