Harpoon (Second Review)


Title		Harpoon (Second Review)
Publisher	Three-Sixty (1990)
Developers      Larry Bond
Game Type	Strategy
Players	        1
HD Installable	Yes (manually)
Compatibility	All
Submission	John Burns (john@jgb.abelgratis.co.uk) Profiled Reviewer

Review
Initially released on the PC, Harpoon had a somewhat fragile start with
development being halted and then re-started from scratch by game
designer, Larry Bond. (Also responsible for the board game of the same
name on which it was based). The game is a naval strategy affair aimed at
the more serious wargamer rather than the casual player. I must confess
up-front that naval wargames aren't really my favourite type and I don't
play them much (so bear that in mind). The game comes with a large game
manual and two other smaller ones. First (only if you pick them up in the
same order) is a hints and tips book by Larry whilst the second is by
Tom Clancy, the co-author who no doubt appears in print to add to the
game's selling point and attract a few more buyers (call me a cynic).

I won't try to cover every aspect of the game (of which there are many)
just the more pertinent points. Set in the present time period the game
puts you in the post of Fleet Commander of one of, if not the, most
detailed Amiga naval combat sims you'll find. The game contains missions
for you to undertake and there are four scenarion disks (each with 15
missions) available covering various regions, these include the North
Atlantic, Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Greenland-Iceland. The missions
vary in their complexity and make up, with you commanding anything from a
full fleet to a small flotilla of boats (or should that be ships?). A
scenario editor is also available though it runs under WB1.3 only.

The user interface is pretty good with much information on ships, subs and
aircraft being accessible from the menus in a civlopedia sort of way.
Likewise there are options to be set up at the start of the game on just
about every aspect of naval warfare so I trust you'll see that this isn't
just a "jump in and have a go" sort of game. All this info and the options
available to the player make the game somewhat daunting to begin with and
I admit that I probably (despite many hours of play over the years) still
haven't seen or used every aspect of the game. One good point in all this
is that you are given an aide who provides advice and reports - he's
certainly needed and useful!

Graphics-wise the game has three main screens - strategic, group and unit.
For most of the play you will use the unit screen though you will use the
others too. These screens are the usual map type on which you are able to
plot and see various game elements. The maps have zoom levels to further
enable you to hone your battle plans to perfection and there are two sets
of game icons. The first is a simple stylistic (i.e. ship/aircraft icon)
whilst the other set are NATO type symbols favoured by official wargame
afficionados Whilst I prefer the latter set many gamers will feel more at
ease with the first set and the inclusion of both is a nice touch. There
are some other small screens which pop up from time to time to show an
event such as a ship firing or being fired upon. When a ship or ships are
sunk you are given a full screen anim with music - not something you want
to see unless it's the enemies ships.

All of the foregoing are of course good points for the game but there are
some bad points. The major flaw for me is the lack of speed in response to
commands. I won't class the game's complexity and arguably difficult
learning curve as a fault since it is aimed at the experienced not the
novice. Another problem though is that the game is prone to crash from
time to time and this can be annoying, if not off putting (I've checked
around and seemingly this flaw is also noted in the original PC release,
so it wasn't the Amiga or it convertor's fault). There is also a lock up
problem associated with the mouse mentioned in the other AGDB review - so
read that too.

Overall, bearing those couple of negatives in mind I'd still say this is a
good game. The depth of play and research which went into its development
are apparant and make it a serious consideration for any would be
strategist and a must have for those with a naval leaning in the genre.
Having read the other review here on the AGDB I would endorse and agree
(with the exception of the symbol set comment, they are not arcane -
merely the proper ones) with everything said there.


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