Novalogic/Mirrorsoft, Amiga £29.99
Centered around a number of World War II missions, Wolfpack lets you command either one or more German submarines, or Allied surface ships. The game is played via a central control screen from which info such as the damage screen can be accessed. Other facilities include a strategic map to view the battle area, time accelerator, speed and compass indicators and a nifty zoom function which turns the view into a binocular display.
U-boats feature various depth/dive gauges, periscope, plus a deck-gun (with elevation and range controls) and torpedo control panel. Controlling the destroyer gives rather different controls such as sonar, hedgehog (forward-facing mortars), depth charges and so on.
The most important feature in Wolfpack is the ability to work as a team – essential as most of Germany's sub success came through this group tactic. A number of captains (all with different characteristics such as being relentless, cautious, etc) control each sub, although you can assume direct control of any sub at any time. A similar option is available for the destroyer captains. Alternatively you can give general orders to captains such as Anchor, Shadow and Patrol.
Graphics are good (similar to 688 Attack Sub, in fact) with reasonable sound effects. They add to the atmosphere giving the usual submarine-type sound effects of radar 'pings', explosions, etc.
There are a number of criticisms to be leveled at Wolfpack, however. The two-player mode is a bit of a botch job. Initially, it appears to be quite innovative where the sub screen appears for a set period, following which the view switches to the surface player. While adequate warning time is provided, the entire play sequence does not allow for consistent or useful offensive/defensive plans. This system is not as good as true modem-modem play.
Also beware the enemy merchant gunners. While historical merchant shipping had atrocious gunnery, the computer gunners are deadly accurate. The documentation can also be erroneous. It notes that engaging an oncoming escort 'down the throat' is an effective tactic. Generally, such a manoeuvre is risky in the extreme – the destroyer presents its smallest target and the sub cannot dive deeply enough to escape if it misses. There were other niggly design factors which I don't have the space to mention.
Overall, there are too many compromises with reality for Wolfpack to be considered as a true simulation. In fact, it's more like a modern submarine simulation than a WW2 era exercise since you can engage the targets without use of the periscope.
However, despite the lack of simulation realism Wolfpack can still be enjoyed as a 'game'. The multi-captain feature is a nice addition and it would be nice to see this take further for a sequel – bringing role-play elements more into the design. In addition, I missed a campaign option (as seen in Microprose's Red Storm Rising) which would extend gameplay.
Zzap! Issue 72, April 1991, pp.27-28