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Desert Strike logo

Dass Spiele von Amiga aufs Mega Drive konvertiert werden, ist immer noch häufiger als der umgekehrte Fall –dass die Umsetzung aber auch noch das Original übertrifft, hat überhaupt Seltenheitswert. Gratulation an Electronic Arts!

Desert Strike Die Konsolenversion dieser actionreichen Kriegssimulation mit strategischen Spurenelementen war letztes Jahr einer der Knaller in den englischen Charts, bei uns wurde das Modul dagegen nie offiziell angeboten. Im Gegensatz zur TV-Berichterstattung über den wirklichen Golfkrieg konnte man bei der digitalen Neuinszenierung nämlich sehr wohl sehen, wie eigene und gegnerische Soldaten im MG-Feuer umkommen...

Auf dem Amiga präsentiert man uns (vermutlich aus Rücksicht auf die Sittenwächter der BPS) nun ein inhaltlich etwas entscharftes, dafür aber technisch verbessertes Desert Strike mit mehr Landschaftsdetails, einer äusserst lebensnähen Gerauschkulisse, etwas Sprachausgabe sowie deutlich schöneren Titel- und Zwischenmusiken. Was die nur leicht verfremdete Story angeht, erzählt das Intro vom grössenwahnsinnigen Tyrann Kilbaba, der ein kleines, aber reiches arabisches Nachbarland erobern will. Das ruft natürlich die Weltpolizei Amerika auf den Plan, die den Untergang des erdölabhängigen Abendlandes verhindern will. Die Verpflichtung von General Schwartzkopf war den Programmierem anscheinend zu teuer, also darf der Spieler in einen Apache-Kampfhubschrauber klettern und die Sache wieder ins Lot bringen.

Dafür werden im Hauptmenu zunächst mal die Arbeitsbedingungen festgelegt: Man kann den Begleitsound und die animierten Zwischensequenzen ein- oder ausschalten, den Steuerungsmodus (Joy, Maus, Tasten) festlegen und ein bereits erkämpftes Passwort eingeben. Ausserdem werden mehrere Copiloten mit S/W-Portrait und kurzem Steckbrief vorgestellt, deren Auswahl einen ge wissen Einfluss darauf hat, wie akkurat nachher geballert wird. Anschliessend folgt eine Einsatzbesprechung mit kurzer Erläuterung der Details der anstehenden Mission. Sind die Kriegsvorbereitungen abgeschlossen, startet man von einem flugzeugträger, der vor der gegnerischen Küste ankert, hinüber aufs Festland.

Desert Strike Intro Hier erwartet den Retter der freien Welt ein leicht schräg von oben gezeigtes und in alle Richtungen scrollendes Kampfgebiet. Es empfiehlt sich, zur besseren Orientierung erstmal die Übersichtskarte aufzurufen, die nicht nur die feindlichen Ziele (blinkend) anzeigt, sondern überhaupt einen wahren Schatz an Informationen bereit stellt. Hier erfährt man, wie es um die Waffen-, Sprit- und Energievorrate des Helis bestellt ist und wie viele seiner ursprünglichen drei „Leben" noch übrig sind. Ausserdem kann man sich alle im Operationsgebiet herumlümmelnden Personen und Objekte auf der Karte zeigen lassen, von denen auch kurze Beschreibungen und „Gebrauchsanleitungen" vorhanden sind. Schliesslich enthält der kluge Kartenscreen noch eine Auflistung sämtlicher Aufgaben dieser Mission mit Angabe der bereits erledigten.

Zurück aufs Ölfeld der Ehre: Der erste Auftrag der ersten Mission besteht im Eliminieren von zwei gut bewachten Radarstationen. Mit Rambo-Methoden ist jedoch kein Blumentopf zu gewinnen, überlegtes Vorgehen ist angesagt. Ein Grund dafür sind die knapp bemessenen Spritvorrate, die es unumgänglich machen, regelmässig Tankstopps einzuplanen, damit der Motor nicht in den Hungerstreik tritt. Deshalb muss man seine Route so legen, dass der fliegende Indianer immer recht zeitig zu einem der Reservoirs mit Benzinfassern kommt, die er per Seilwinde an den Haken nimmt. Genauso kann man sich die (feindlichen) Waffenvorräte angeln, was ebenfalls überlebensnotwendig ist, weil sonst die Munition vielleicht gerade im entscheidenden Moment ausgeht. Denn wie üblich hat man von den relativ unwichtigen MG-Patronen reichlich an Bord, während die leistungsfähigen Hydra- und Hellfire Raketen (mit Zielsuchfunktion) nur in geringen Stückzahlen vorhanden sind…

Amiga Joker Hit Sobald die Radarstationen erledigt sind, kommt das Kraftwerk dran, anschliessend stehen zwei Flugplätze und das Kommandozentrum des Gegners auf der Abschussliste. Hat man auch den ganzen Krempel in Schutt und Asche gelegt, muss noch ein Agent befreit werden, dann ist die erste der insgesamt vier Missionen geschafft und man darf zurück zum Flugzeugtrager. Nach diesem Schema geht's weiter, nur dass man später halt biologische und chemische Waffen fabriken, Scud-Stationen und dergleichen zerstört, durch geschickt gesprengte Locher einen Gefangnisausbruch ermöglicht oder UN-Inspektoren heimholt. Theoretisch ist man dabei übrigens nicht an die vorgegebene Reihenfolge der einzelnen Aufgaben innerhalb einer Mission gebunden - praktisch sollte man sich schon daran halten, da die Geschichte sonst irrsinnig schwer wird. Eine Ausnahme davon bilden lediglich die überall im Kampfgebiet verstreuten Kriegsgefangenen, die man jederzeit via Strickleiter retten kann und sollte, wofür sie sich mit Energiepunkten revanchieren, die den Schutzschild des Helikopters verbessern.

Wie eingangs erwähnt, hat sich Electronic Arts mit der Präsentation viel Mühe gegeben, das Ergebnis sind vier verschiedene, liebevoll mit kleinen Details ausgestattete und ziemlich flüssig scrollende Grafiklandschaften in bis zu 64 Farben, eine gelungene Sounduntermalung und die astreine Steuerung - den Maus-Kampf vielleicht mal ausgenommen. Das alles gilt bereits fur den 500er, am A1200 lauft die Geschichte sogar noch etwas schneller und sanfter. Aber das Aufregendste an Desert Strike ist und bleibt das Realo-Gameplay, an dessen erschreckende Faszination sich auch in der „braveren" Fassung nichts geändert hat. Ob er sich darauf einlassen will, muss wohl jeder Bildschirm-Pilot für sich selbst entscheiden. (C. Borgmeier)

Amiga Joker, May 1993, p.p.76-77

DESERT STRIKE
(ELECTRONIC ARTS)
ACTION - SIMULATION
85% Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPASS
78%
82%
78%
80%
84%
87%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 89,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB
3/JA
NEINJA
PASSWÖRTER
ANLEITUNG


Desert Strike logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Dan's always wanted to get his hand on a big chopper, so when we gave him a copy of Electronic Arts' latest shoot'em up, he got all hot and bothered. One cold shower later and here's his review...

Desert Strike Desert Strike is about close as you'll get experiencing the thrills and spills of a modern military engagement – unless, of course, you have a multi-billion dollar defence budget. Put in the cockpit of a lone Apache helicopter gunship, your ultimate objective is to prevent a tinpot dictator - General Kilbaba, from developing a nuclear bomb and holding the West for Ransom. The action's set in the Middle East hence Kilbaba's resemblance to Saddam Hussein, and involves four campaigns, each made up of a number of specific missions. In all, there are more than 27 missions to complete before Kilbaba's corrupt regime is destroyed.

The original Megadrive version topped the charts for months on end, and it looks likely that the same will happen with the Amiga conversion. The programming team may have finishing it off (the lazy sods were supposed to finish it in time for last Christmas!), but the wait has definitely been worthwhile.

Most of the game's graphics have been completely redrawn or touched-up and the sound effects cranked up a notch or two. Extra frames of animation have been added to the main helicopter sprite, making it look much more realistic as it swoops about the sky, and the animated intro screens and overall presentation have been significantly improved. So much so, in fact, that the Amiga conversion is far superior to the Megadrive or SNES versions currently doing the rounds – so tell that to your smug console-owning friends!

LETHAL WEAPONS
Missions typically involve knocking out tracking sites, rescuing hostages, bombing runways, blowing up chemical weapons plants and shooting anything that moves. You've got a full complement of state-of-the-art weapons on-board, including a chain-gun for taking out ground troops and several laser-guided Hellfires capable of reducing the largest targets to a smouldering heap of rubble. Unfortunately, you've only got a finite supply of ammo, so extra supplies have to be picked up from drop sites scattered around the map. The same also holds true for fuel, so frequent sorties have to be carried out to replenish supplies before the rotors fail and your 'copter crashes to the ground. Soaking up enemy fire isn't a good idea, either, as each hit significantly reduces the Apache's armour plating. Ground fire isn't too much of a problem, but heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles are capable of diminishing your armour at an alarming rate. As you only have two 'copters in reserve, it's best not to be too gung-ho in your approach. Again, re-supplies can be picked up from special drop sites or by stealing enemy supplies.

Your co-pilot operates the gun- ship's targeting system and the winch for picking up supplies and ground troops. There's a choice of co-pilot at the start of each campaign - most are either good winchmen or expert shots, but rarely both. It's all a bit frustrating, especially when you're practically hovering above a target, watching your shots go wide of the mark. Luckily, there is always one effective co-pilot available, it's just a question of finding out which one!

Another aid in your one-man war is the Apache's on-board computer, called into play by pressing F10 on the keyboard. From here, a detailed map of the mission area is displayed; this is useful for locating key installations, enemy gun emplacements, ammo dumps and fuel pick-ups. It also monitors fuel consumption, the number of missiles left and armour points - but why this information couldn't have been included on the main screen I don't know. Status and mission windows give a breakdown of the campaign so far and detail the remaining targets.

The in-game action is viewed from an isometric, three-quarters top- down perspective and the screen scrolls in eight directions, panning out in front of the 'copter as it's guided across the desert terrain. It's possible to configure the controls so that either the joystick, mouse or keyboard can be used, although I found the mouse controls virtually unplayable. The joystick is also a problem because the keyboard is needed to access the map screen and toggle between the three different weapons. This can be a bit of a distraction, especially when you're in the thick of things. Sega's joypad was much more effective, as everything could be accessed via its three buttons.

SOUND AND VISION
Graphically, the game looks a treat. Everything has been rendered in the Amiga's 64-colour extra half-brite mode and the battlefield atmosphere is enhanced further with huge palls of smoke drifting across the desert and burnt-out wrecks littering the area. Much of the game's military hardware has been redrawn and the weedy explosions of the original have also been ditched in favour of digitised effects that resemble mini- Hiroshimas. Even the sound is top-notch, with sampled gunfire, monitor-shaking explosions, and the death screams of enemy troops heightening the on-screen action. The whirr of the 'copter's rotor blades speed up or slow down in sync with the craft's speed and an on-board computer voice warns when supplies are getting low or if you're entering a designated danger zone. Best of all is the screeching launch of a Hellfire missile and the rattle of the chain gun as you wreak your vengeance on the enemy forces - they're some of the best samples I've heard in an Amiga game for quite a while.

But great graphics and sizzling samples don't necessarily guarantee a good game, as any Spectrum owner will quickly tell you. Fortunately, Desert Strike is simply amazing to play. Once you've started a campaign, you just won't want to stop. There's so much to do and each mission is refreshingly different from the last. Once you've mastered the Apache's controls, this is real seat-of-the-pants stuff with hardly any let-up in the action. Most of the gameplay remains true to the Megadrive original, although some missions have been made a little harder or easier as a result of feedback from EA's playtesters. One important change, though, is the near indestructibility of your MIAs.

'Friendly fire' has become a bit of a contentious issue since the Americans managed to kill off more of their own troops than the Iraqi were capable of, so EA have decided to imbue your lost men with a near- kryptonite invulnerability. This means that no matter how many Hellfires you shoot into their midst, they'll still be left standing once the smoke has cleared. Fortunately, some of the other characters in the game, such as a lost TV crew, are not so invulnerable and can be reduced to crispy cinders with a well-placed missile. That's definitely more like it!

Another quibble is the sheer stupidity of the opposition forces. If you position your gunship so that a target comes between you and an enemy gun emplacement, the idiots will launch a volley of shots in your direction and do the job for you. It's possible to sneak up on a target and stay just out of range of its guns while you pick it off - sometimes they're not even aware of your presence which seems a little crazy when you're blasting away with all guns blazing. The only other complaint is the excessive number of shots it takes to dispose of some of the bigger installations. It's obvious padding to stretch out the action, but it isn't really necessary as there's tons to do anyway.

But I'm nit-picking really, as the game is probably the best blaster I've ever played on the Amiga. It's been programmed by Gary Roberts, the brains behind the excellent conversion of John Madden last year, and everything about it shouts class. It's the little details that really make it stand out, such as the large number of fire-fights and the sand particles thrown up as a stream of bullets rip into the desert. Even when you've completed a campaign, there's still lots to do if you don't want to head back to base straight away. And there's always the incentive to keep on playing to improve your highscore. The mix of low-level strategy and shoot 'em up action is a curious but successful combination. It might seem a chore to have to continually replenish the Apache's supplies in the heat of battle, but the game would be much duller if the strategy elements had been left out. In fact, the finished game has a special 'fire- and-forget' cheat which will give you unlimited ammo so you can play it as an out-and-out shoot 'em up. All things considered, Desert Strike couldn't be a better game. The mix is just right, the action fast and frantic and the missions suitably varied to keep you coming back again and again. It's got the just-one-more-go appeal that so many of today's games seem to lack. Thoroughly recommended.

CU Amiga, April 1993, pp.60-63

McDonnell Douglas AH-64A Apache
MCDONNELL DOUGLAS AH-64A APACHE
Dubbed the ugliest military helicopter ever built, the Apache AH-64A is also one of the most sophisticated battlefield helicopters of all time. Named in honour of the legendary Apache Indian warriors, it's equipped with a fearsome array of weapons, including a chain gun capable of pumping out 625 rounds per minute, conventional folding tin rockets and laser-guided Hellfire missiles with a range of 3.7 miles. Its two GE T700-701 turbo-shaft engines can generate 1,694 horsepower with a top cruise speed of l87mph. The Apache can also climb faster than most jet airliners and absorb a straight-down impact at 20 feet per second. The airframe has been constructed to collapse in on itself, giving the crew a 95 percent chance of walking away from a crash at anything up to 42 feet per second - how they actually came up with this figure, though, is something I'd rather not find out. Its twin engines are mounted more than six feet apart to minimise the chance of both being simultaneously damaged by enemy fire. Another safety feature are the blast shields which separate the pilot and co-pilot. It one crew member is injured there's a good possibility that the other will remain unhurt and continue flying the craft. The exhaust system also incorporates three secondary nozzles that suck in cooling air which is mixed with the exhaust. This helps reduce the exhaust temperature by up to a half, thus minimising the engine's infra-red signature and making it virtually undetectable by heat-seeking guided missiles. Carrying enough fuel to keep airborne for 1.3 hours and able to cover 330 nautical miles, extra fuel tanks can be added so that the Apache is capable of crossing the Atlantic under its own power (without the need for mid-air refuelling!). The US Airforce now has 34 attack battalions of Apache helicopters with more than 614 'copters in service at any one time.

Desert Strike: Statistics
Desert Strike: Map By pressing F10, you can call up your on-board computer. This details essential information such as fuel and ammunition levels as well as mission breakdowns and a map of the campaign area.

JOYSTICK WARS
In the States, Desert Strike caused quite a storm (no pun intended) when it was originally released on the Megadrive. Many people felt it came just a little too soon after the end of the Gulf Warand there was even one celebrated incident of a group of American vets (ex-soldiers rather than budding James Herriot-types) burning a number of copies of the game to show their disgust. Whatever the moral implications of the game, it's slightly ironic that EA should have brought out a shoot 'em up based on Operation Desert Storm. After all, the Gulf War was nicknamed the 'Joystick Wars' because of all the hi-tech, remote-controlled hardware used to bomb the Iraqis into submission. In fact, one pilot returning from a bombing mission was quoted as saying the war was just like playing a video game, only this particular 'game' cost billions of dollars to take part in!
TOOLING UP
Your Apache comes equipped with three different types of weapon. The Chain Gun isn't very powerful, but fires rapidly and is great for taking out ground troops and unprotected buildings (although this might take a long time!). Hydra missiles form the second part of your 'copter's arsenal. These are fairly weak, but the Apache does carry 38 and they can prove effective in polishing off ground based targets such as anti-aircraft guns and mortar emplacements. Leaving the best until last, Hellfire missiles are the most devastating weapon in your armoury capable of taking out even the most well-protected enemy installations. Unfortunately, you're only equipped with eight at a time, so used them sparingly.

E.A. £29.99
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ELECTRONIC ARTS, 90 HERON DRIVE, LANGLEY, BERKS, SL3 8XP TEL: 0753 549442
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
EARLY MAY
STRATEGIC SHMUP
IN HOUSE
J/M/K
3
1
NO
1Mb
 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
90%
91%
93%
94%
The best shoot 'em up on the Amiga bar none.
OVERALL: 93%


MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
As the US's top fly boy, you've been chosen to pilot a lone Apache 'copter in a series of covert operations against General Kilbaba's regime. Be careful out there!

CAMPAIGN ONE AIR SUPERIORITY
Desert Strike: Campaign One It's Important to establish air superiority right away. Knock out the two radar sites first, otherwise the enemy's defences will be able to automatically track your chopper as it flies across the desert. Each site is guarded by a couple of AAA batteries. These can be picked off with your chain gun while you remain outside their range. Your next target is the power station. it's relatively undefended, but is heavily armoured. Don't be tempted to use your valuable Hellfires though - keep plugging away with the chain gun and it'll eventually explode in a huge fireball. Once that's taken care of, it's time to take on the heavily fortified airfields. There are two to take out and they're surrounded by Rapier SAM sites, AAA batteries, and a whole host of other such goodies. Extreme caution is advised. Even when you've polished off most of the perimeter defences there are still the mobile rocket launchers to take care of as well as some suicidal foot soldiers who just won't quit until you've reduced them to a pile of cinders. Keep an eye on your fuel supplies as this part of the campaign is extremely time consuming and you'll probably have to refuel a couple of times during your raid. The command centres are also heavily defended with sentries and missile banks forming an outer ring around the complex. Once you've negotiated your way past that lot, the real heavy stuff is wheeled into play and the air becomes thick with triple 'A' and heat seeking missiles. This isn't a time for heroics, so hover just outside the perimeter and pick off your targets one by one. This might take some time, but it's better than charging in and getting your rotors shot to pieces. When the command centre falls, pick up the fleeing commander who will give you details of where the American spy is being held hostage. After locating and freeing your compatriot, leg it back to the frigate for some well deserved victory celebrations.

CAMPAIGN TWO SCUD BUSTER
Desert Strike: Campaign Two Now that you've established air superiority it's time to turn your attention to the enemy's scud launchers. As in the first mission, it's wise to take out the radar sites first. They're even better protected than the first two, but if you keep a cool head you should be able to accomplish it without taking too many hits. Now it's time to start a jail break and free your imprisoned compatriots. The area around the jail must be made safe before you blast open the building, otherwise the fleeing prisoners will be picked off with sniper fire before they can be picked up. After winching the prisoners to safety, another power station has be decommissioned, as well as a heavily fortified chemical weapons complex. This one will take all your Hellfires to complete. Once you've reduced the chemical weapons facility to a pile of rubble, the fleeing commanders need to be captured. After a brief interrogation they'll give you the location of all the Scud missile launchers. It's now a question of flying from one site to the next, blasting each one into oblivion. It's a race against time, though, as they must be destroyed before they can launch their own missiles. At least five of the six launchers must be taken out before the mission can be deemed a success.

CAMPAIGN THREE EMBASSY CITY
Desert Strike: Campaign Three Things really start to hot up now! This huge campaign involves eight separate missions and each must be carefully planned if you're not to run out of fuel halfway through. The first involves rescuing a team of United Nations inspectors who are under attack in a hotel's car park. There's an enemy tank to take care off plus a legion of ground troops equipped with snipers and jet-propelled missile launchers. Be careful not to hit the inspectors or you'll have to start the mission again. The next target is a biological weapons complex on the city's outskirts. The chief scientist resides in one of eight identical looking buildings. Each one has to be destroyed and the scientist captured. He'll give you the location of the underground missile silos which should be your next objective. These are covered by sand dunes and are difficult to locate at first. Pepper the desert with shots from your chain gun to find them. Listen out for the metallic clanging sound as your bullets bounce off the silo's armoured covering. Again, you must prevent any missiles being fired. It's best to collect any nearby ammo crates or fuel drums before you start blasting as once the missile silos explode any supplies in the vicinity could be caught up in the blast. The action now takes on a nautical theme as you're requested to rescue several pilots who have had to ditch their planes in the Gulf. It's a fairly easy mission, but watch out for the speed boats which spew out an end less stream of bullets. Next up is yet another power station to blow away! This one houses a special radar system which protects General Kilbaba's personal yacht which is being used as a floating prison. Once radar cover has been knocked out, fly to the yacht, blast a hole in its side and rescue the prisoners from the sea by winching them out of the water. You have to be quick, though, as they're weak and can't stay afloat for long. Once you've secured the area, head for the enemy's embassy. Your objective here is to capture their ambassador and rescue the 12 officials who are being held captive. You're in for one hell of a fire fight here as the whole of Kilbaba's army appears to have converged on the area. Most deadly are the enemy helicopters that swoop down like birds of prey. There are also the usual gun emplacements, ground troops, tanks and other military hardware to overcome. It's not possible to blast through this stage of the game with out re-arming, so make sure you've located an ammo dump before moving in. Your co-pilot is needed to drive a bus to ferry the hostages to a safe heaven - it's incredibly vulnerable to enemy fire, so needs to be escorted all the way by the Apache.

CAMPAIGN FOUR NUCLEAR STORM
Desert Strike: Campaign Four In a spot of environmental consciousness, the fourth campaign involves protecting the oil fields from Kilbaba's henchmen. This necessitates taking out all the enemy tanks that surround the fields and dropping off a group of commandos to secure the area. There are a couple of crippled oil pipes, though, and these need to be closed down. This is done by firing at the end of the pipe to stop the oil gushing out. Once done, a special briefing appears on screen, detailing the rest of this top secret mission. We're not going to give too much away, but you'll find yourself in a race against time to stop Kilbaba launching a nuclear strike against the West. Good luck, the world is depending on you!