M1 Tank Platoon


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.




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