Title M1 Tank Platoon Game Type 3D Combat Sim Players 1 Compatibility All (512K) Company MicroProse US, (1989) HD Installable Yes Submission David Webster Review In the mid 1980's and early 1990's, Microprose software published a slew of classic military simulations. Fortunately, many of these titles were ported to the Amiga, one of the best being the award winning M1 Tank Platoon. This revolutionary title set the standard for modern armoured warfare sims. Tank simulations at the time followed the standard formula of 'one against the world' where you manned a single tank tasked with taking on an entire army single handedly. M1TP was groundbreaking in that it presented the player a simulation of not just one tank, but an entire platoon of M1A1 Abrams Main Battle tanks along with support vehicles, air and artillery support in what amounted to a real time game of small unit tactical warfare. The design element is such that the player can assume any level of command he wants. He can control the entire battle from a strategic top down map view, and then at any time jump into any of the four tanks in his platoon to continue the battle up close and personal. GAMEPLAY M1TP was written in the late 80's, so your main opposition is the old Soviet Army, fought somewhere in the German countryside. The game begins with you selecting the platoon you want to command. You can select from multiple platoons of various skill levels. M1TP recognizes the importance of training and experience, as your platoon becomes battle hardened, they improve in ability. Also, promotions and medals can be earned, and it's up to you to decide who gets promoted and decorated. You can 'promote' crewman from within, for example, you can promote a loader to a gunner, a gunner to a Tank Commander, etc. The care of your platoon becomes important when you embark on a campaign, you will want to keep them alive as long as possible. You feel the pain at the loss of an experienced tank crew in the heat of battle. You can control your tank from one of three positions, driver, gunner or TC (Tank Commander). The tank commander can use binoculars to locate enemy elements and direct the gunner as to which targets to engage. The gunner has a magnified view screen and also a Thermal Imaging System (TIS) for spotting the heat signatures of targets at night and even during the day. When you find a target, use the laser rangefinder to lock in the range and then fire the big 120mm cannon. The driver position is used to drive the tank and to find 'hull down' locations and to fine tune your position on the battlefield. The game has a number of training battles and some excellent tutorials in the manual to get you acquainted with the game mechanics. After a few battles, you are ready to embark on a campaign. M1TP campaigns are dynamic and fun to play. First you choose the level of ability of the Soviet forces. Campaigns can either be fought in the summer or winter. At the map screen, you are briefed on the order of battle, the type of enemy forces you may be up against, the time of the battle (day or night), your objective and finally the forces on your side that will participate. Along with your platoon, you can have support elements of Bradley CFV's, APC's, MLRS rocket launchers, mobile field artillery, scout helicopters, Apaches, A10 Warthogs, etc. Similarly, the Soviet army will be complete with T80 and T72 tanks plus armoured support vehicles, artillery, and air support. When the battle starts, you command all the forces on your side from the overhead map screen. Send Bradleys on a scouting mission to a nearby hill, direct air support and send scout helicopters ahead to scan the area. When your scouts have found enemy elements, send an artillery barrage to soften them up a bit before sending in your platoon. When it's time to send the big boys in, set you platoon formation and send them into battle. You can watch the action unfold on the map screen, or jump into any of your tanks and fire away. The interface is designed so well that it's a seamless transition from battlefield commander to tank gunner and back. GRAPHICS M1TP is a port of the original IBM design, and as such, the graphics are basically identical to the IBM version. It does an excellent job of simulating a 3D battlefield with hills, rivers, roads and towns. They may seem a little bland to the more jaded Amiga owners, but the graphics are effective in what the game is trying to simulate. The cockpit views inside the tank are well done, with all pertinent dials and switches, which can be clicked on with the mouse to activate. SOUND Sound effects are much improved from the IBM version. The sounds of battle are very well done; you can hear the rumble of artillery, the sound of rounds bouncing off your turret, and the boom of your 120mm cannon. DOCUMENTATION The game manual deserves special mention, it's simply one of the finest pieces of documentation every written for a game. It's 200 pages long, but actually only about the first 70 pages is devoted to gameplay mechanics, tutorials, etc. The rest of the manual is full of information and serves as a condensed history of tank design, weapon and armour technology, battle tactics and strategy, US and Soviet doctrines, and data on all the vehicles and weapons in the game. Fascinating reading, it really helps to flesh out the game and is worth the price of admission just by itself. In addition to the game manual, a keyboard overlay is provided to help you learn the large number of commands in the game. SUMMARY M1 Tank Platoon is a legendary game and one of Microprose's best titles. It has won numerous awards and is in the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame. The best testament to it's excellence is the fact it stood as the benchmark that all other tank games have been compared to for almost 12 years. A true classic.