Battle Isle logo

At last a war-game has come along that will pull the genre out of the trenches and appeal to arcade junkies as well as strategy-sim freaks...

Computer war-games will never be the same again. UBI Soft have taken all the trappings from the table-top board-game, mixed in some cunning computer game design and created a war-game that looks too good to be tactically true. Here we have a strategy bash in arcade clothing.

This is a low-level combat simulator where military units, in a blow-by-blow battle, have to capture 16 islands, moving across a hexagonal board, accruing damage, earning experience and taking the opponent's territory. Victory depends on the ability to make maximum use of limited resources and having the occasional gamble.

These, though, are not entirely new concepts. What makes this game so different is its instant playability. Usually computer wargames are laden with icons and weighty manuals. Battle Isle dodges this problem with a smart joystick interface and a streamlined order to play, all at no cost to flexibility. The resulting game stresses tactical thought, but still plays fast and looks good.

Calling the shots
Single and two player is available and both are played on a split screen, one side is used to line up shots, while the other is for moving your units around. The divided screen restricts the size of the game window, but adds a flexiblility and speed other computer war-games have been screaming for. It's perfectly possible to sit and watch your foe's moves, but the temptation to enact your own master plan proves irresistible.

Battle Isle's addictive gameplay hooks you in swiftly. The graphics are what lures you first: it simply doesn't look like a war game. The maps and vehicles are well drawn, providing the necessary information without resorting to reams of text or figures.

Even the mechanics of the game are dressed up and displayed in an instantly-appealing fashion. As the units do battle, for example, the random outcome of the conflict is shown as just a small-scale skirmish.

Control is mastered in the first few turns, leaving the grey-matter free to focus on tactics. That's the second major strike on your addiction centres, and it is almost impossible to repulse. Like a futuristic chess game, each piece and formation has different strengths.

The basic attributes of each unit are obvious but their tactical potential in the battle group is continually redefined. Each island gets sequentially tougher than the last, so new vehicles and buildings continually have to be assimilated into the overall strategy.

Outgun Europa
Play initially focuses on fire-power and experience. At your disposal for the first few battles are infantry, transport and light tanks. The heavier your armour the better the chance you have of emerging victorious.

But, as the computer gets the better weapons deal, units must be merged to maximise fire-power. Once you get the hang of organising fire-power teams though, then the pleasure of kicking the computer's butt is well worth the effort.

Success in a battle earns your unit experience, which improves its accuracy and increases defensive capabilities. These veterans still take losses and you have to calculate the balance between experience and numbers. Will a few experts provide the cutting edge or will they be overwhelmed by superior numbers? These are the commander's choice, and the shots that Battle Isle forces you to make.

Emerging unscathed from a battle brings on Rommel-like confidence. But then, look what happened to him.

Home on the range
Once the theory of experience has proved itself in the field, then the structure of a unit assumes a new importance. Each counter on the map represents a squad of six similar vehicles or troops.

In the animated combat resolution phase, these six vehicles are seen blasting the unit they attacked. Depending on the unit's experience, fire-power and luck they will kill a number of foes and take losses themselves. In this way the original six are slowly whittled down as their experience increases. Once a unit is wiped out, it's dead forever, but a whole unit can be built up again from a single survivor. If, and it's a big if, they can be guided back to base for a refit.

The home base, as with everything in Battle Isle, has two strategic functions. Firstly it must be protected from any enemy infantry, who can storm the place and end the game. Secondly, it has a limited supply of spares which can be used to patch up veteran troops. An expert unit with only one remaining tank can be turned into a ferocious fighting force if given shiny new tanks. The tricky bit is earning a breathing space so such a re-supply is possible. Such planning quandries abound and give Battle Isle its strategic bite.

On later islands, the home bases are supplemented with depots and factories. Depots are ammunition dumps that can be liberated by the first infantry on the scene - they've also a small repair capacity. Factories are much more fun and provide the facilities to build brand new vehicles from scratch. Both add a little spice, forcing a straight foot race to reach them at the beginning of the battle. You have to get there to liberate the kit, but such tactics spreads your forces rather thin. These add fuel to the tactical fire from the very first move, impressing the need for swift, decisive action.

Compound factor
Compounding these factors is Battle Isle's turn structure. At any time you are either moving or firing, when you're doing one the computer (or second player) is doing the other. Understanding this artificial time system is vital if you want to win. Even the best plan can fail if initiated at the during the wrong phase. The structure has been well thought through, interspersing tactical brainwork with nail-biting moments of truth when battles are resolved.

Battle Isle is all its best when the combat is joined and the dice of chance are rolling. When units go heads up, there's a tense feeling of impending doom, even massive superiority in experience or armour is no guarantee of success, fate still holds the key. Emerging unscathed from a battle brings on a sly feeling of Rommel-like confidence. But then, look what happened to him!

Done to a turn
All the best elements in war-games: turns, moves and targets, are brought to the fore, while the computer does all the boring donkey work of checking rules and regulations. It's friendly to the beginner, with every action politely questioned before it's enacted, but streamlined enough for experienced players to speed through their actions.

The graphics help push Battle Isle towards victory. Occupying a factory, depot or base freezes the action while a short cartoon trooper blasts through a solid metal door, while annihilating an enemy ushers in a calm display of hardware at the end of the game.

If you storm a base while the battle's raging, then a mopping-up sequence is your reward. These scenes add that extra visual impact that previous war-games lack. They make it look like a straightforward arcade shoot out, and disguise the nature of the gameplay until you're hooked.

The gameplay lies in its depth and flexibility. In both one and two player modes, each successive scenario introduces new vehicles or other twists. Strategies must be instantly formed that incorporate these new factors and their potential noted for the play book. A skill learned on the present island is accepted as standard for t he next. It's a step-by-step tutorial that prepares you for a final battle and the ultimate showdown is apocalyptic, displaying a range of hardware to shame Desert Storm.

The programmers, Blue Bute, have reinvented the war-game genre making a game fit for heroes. It's simple but possesses real gameplay depth. The basic principals take minutes to learn, but are sharpened and refined in each successive scenario. The tanks and troops are extended chess pieces and the landscape is your board, it is your ability to use them effectively that is the appeal of the game. This graphic and gameplay mix ensure wargames will never look the same again.

"So what does that red one with a large gun do then?"

Battle Isle
The Blitz is primarily an air-defence weapon but experienced crews can also prove effective against tanks. They have light armour but pack a real punch in the fire-power department. Only use offensivelyin extreme cases.

Battle Isle
The Provider is a transport vehicle that can move troopers around far faster than they can walk. It has rather limited fire-power and totally duff armour. It can fill a gap in a fight, but is best used as a blocker or a workhorse.

Battle Isle
The Firebird is a mean, lean, killing machine. It is lightly armoured but has missiles that really mess up armour. It is best used for raiding units that have no aerial-fire potential, so it can sit there and just take pot shots.

Battle Isle
The Crusader is the main heavy tank. It has both land-and-air attack capabilities of quite devastating proportions. Its tough armour makes it very hard to kill and an excellent front-line assault vehicle.

Battle Isle
The Gladiator is a light battle tank, that has a good but rather flimsy armour. It fulfils a hit-and-run function on its own or can be used as part of a fire group. With its speed it can also outrun most enemies.

Battle Isle
The Demon infantry are weak when fighting armour but are the only units that can occupy bases, depots and factories. Keep some alive if you want to win, kill all the enemies if you want to limit his chances.

Battle Isle logo Amiga Joker Hit

Blue Byte weiß, wie man Strategenherzen höher schlagen läßt: Noch nie war das Erobern des feindlichen Hauptquartiers so spannend wie bei dieser Mischung aus Schach und High Tech Krieg!

Los geht's mit einem bombastischen Vorspann, zur Sache dann am zweigeteilten Screen: Stratege Nr. 1 (Mensch) taktiert auf der linken Hälfte, Stratege Nr. 2 (zweiter Mensch oder Amiga) tobt sich gleichzeitig auf der rechten Seite aus. Es handelt sich also durchaus um ein und dasselbe Schlachtfeld, die Bildschirm Aufteilung hat rein praktische Gründe. Der ganze Inselkrieg besteht nämlich aus sich ständig abwechselnden Bewegungs- und Aktionsphasen.

Ein Spieler kann immer seine Einheiten bewegen, während der andere attackiert, repariert, konstruiert oder was halt sonst gerade anfällt. Es gibt insgesamt 32 Schlachtinseln, wovon sich 16 auch im Solo-Modus bewältigen lassen. Sie bestehen aus lauter Sechsecken, was man wegen der draufgepinselten (hübschen) Wälder, Flüsse, Fabriken usw. Im ersten Moment gar nicht so richtig wahrnimmt. Außerdem pflügen die Transporter, Panzer, Flugzeuge, Schiffe und Infanterieeinheiten durchs Gelände, dazu kommen noch ihre jeweiligen Hauptquartiere.

Um zu gewinnen, muß man entweder sämtliche Einheiten des Gegners vernichten oder sein Hauptquartier stürmen. Dazu werden erst mal die eigenen Truppen bewegt, und das geht so: Mit dem Joystick-cursor drauffahren und den Feuerknopf drücken; jetzt kann man durch gezielte Stickbewegung die Reichweite dieser Einheit betrachten. Infos über sie einholen, die Übersichtskarte einblenden oder eben den ausgewählten Panzer, Fußsoldaten etc. in Matsch setzen.

Sind alle Einheiten bewegt und alle Witwen getröstet, kommt die Aktionsphase - die läuft im Prinzip genauso ab, nur daß der Stick hier teilweise mit anderen Optionen belegt ist (Aaangriff!). Die Manöver werden allerdings nicht direkt vom Spieler ausgeführt, er erteilt nur die Befehle dafür. Beim Wechsel von bewegungs- und Aktionsphase rechnet der Amiga dann die beabsichtigten Aktionen durch und führt sie aus - soweit sie überhaupt noch möglich sind (zerstörte Flieger fliegen halt nicht mehr).

Gezeigt wird die jeweilige Auseinandersetzung in einer kleinen Animationssequenz, in die man allerdings nicht eingreifen kann. Aber zugucken, wie sich die Jungs gegenseitig zermörsern, ist auch recht spaßig...

Was gibt's an battle Isle auszusetzen? Nichts! Die grafische und soundmäßige Präsentation ist für eine Strategieschinken phantastisch, die Handhabung dank einer erstklassigen deutschen Anleitung und der ausgezeichneten Steuerung hervorragend, die (übrigens mehrere Screens großen) Schlachtfelder sind samt und sonders taktisch ausgetüftelt. Der langen Rede kurzer Sinn: Battle Isle ist ein Süchtigmacher, wie man ihn seit Powermonger nicht mehr gesehen hat! (C. Borgmeier)

Battle Isle logo

At last - a wargame for the common man! But what's the biggest surprise - that it looks set to put a hex on average games players, or that it's come from Ubi Soft...?

A favourite catchphrase in the AMIGA POWER office is "Yikes! A wargame! Call Jonathan Davies!" (how we laugh), but in the interests of horizon-broadening and open-mindedness and that kind of thing, I snatched Battle Isle out of Matt's hands when it appeared and demanded to review it. It wasn't a totally magnanimous gesture designed to save poor old JD from another weekend spent reading instruction manuals, though.

The word was out that Battle Isle was a wargame for people who didn't like wargames, an action-Packed arcade-paced slaughterfest that just happened to have enough tactical and strategic depth to float a battleship on - in fact, it sounded like the first Amiga game since Laser Squad to capture the awesome flavour of that all-time--8-bit-favourite-that-we're-incessantly-plugging-although-nobody-else-in-the-entire-world-knows-what-we're-rattling-on-about, Rebelstar.

Certainly the concept is a loosely similar one - two armies (one player against the computer or two humans competing) challenge each other on one of a series of 16 islands constructed of hexes, each littered with bases, factories, rivers, mountains and so on.

The action is displayed on a vertically-split screen, with each player using one side, and the objective is simply to defeat the enemy by either wiping out all of his forces or destroying his command base.

Victory is achieved by the use of various vehicles from all three traditional branches of the armed forces - air force, army and navy. (You start off with simple tank battles on small islands with no buildings apart from the bases, but as you progress through the levels more and more elements are added until at the end it's a full-scale war).

These all have various purposes and capabilities, but they share one common link - whenever they encounter an enemy division, the two units exchange fire in a brief computer-controlled bout of fighting, the outcome of which is displayed in one of the two halves of the split screen.

This will nearly always result in the loss of a few vehicles from each side (a unit is made up of six of the same kind of weapon), but to make sure that the numbers are in your favour, you'll have to plan engagements carefully. The hex layout of the map makes it possible for you to attack enemies with multiple units at once,but beware - it also means that your opponent can do exactly the same to you.

So far so good, but sad to report, Battle Isle doesn't quite pull it off. For a game where the emphasis has been put on accessibility and fast pace, it's just too slow to work. Moving uses a dual turns system, whereby in each phase one player moves his units and the other one 'aims' (i.e. decides which of his units are going to take part in a battle) and in the other phase (separated from the first by a round of battles) the positions are reversed.

As you might expect, moving takes a lot longer than 'aiming', with the result that in a one-player game you find you have to spend a lot of time hanging around for the computer to finish its moves.

In one instance, playing on the eight or ninth level, I found myself twiddling my thumbs for over seven minutes after I'd finished my aiming phase, and only a Canadian Giant Redwood calls that fast-moving action.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, the computer accesses the main game disk at some length after each phase. Since the maps never get very big, and the graphics for the animated battle sequences can't possibly take up much memory, I can't for the life of me see why a machine with 512K of memory has to do this.

The only conceivable explanation revolves around the music - the movement phase is accompanied, rather pointlessly, by a passable but quite unnecessary tune which, as it isn't present in the other phase, may be being loaded in and out of memory. If this is the case, it must represent one of the most confused judgements of priorities in the history of games programming - doing away with the disk accessing would double the speed of the game in the earlier levels.

The other major problem with Battle Isle is that for a strategy game it appears to rely heavily on elements of pure chance. After you've cleverly manoeuvred yourself into a situation where three of your strongest units are simultaneously attacking a single enemy division from advantageous terrain positions, it's really galling to watch as (seemingly as a sole function of dice-rolling luck) eleven of your eighteen tanks are wiped out for a loss of only one enemy.

The chances of exacting a similarly flukey revenge in your next turn are non-existent too, as each vehicle in a unit only gets one shot per attack. This means, for example, that if a two-tank unit gets involved with a full-strength six-tank enemy division, it has to survive a minimum of three attacks unscathed to have any chance of coming out on top. (It's true that units become more skilled the more battle they take part in, but that's no good if they all get wiped out in their first one). This heavily advantageous weighting of number is a serious flaw in a game of chess-like tactics (how good a game would chess be if a roll of a dice decided if a pawn defeated a Queen or not?), and watching your carefully-Planned strategy disintegrate into a losing lottery entry is a sure way to see the game dispatched to the back of your software shelf at great speed. Hard games I can handle - unfair ones, no.

Unless you're a compulsive gambler, I can't see this one holding much appeal at the end of the day, which is a bit of a shame. There's a germ of a great game here, though - I hope someone has another go at it soon. We're still waiting for the Amiga's Rebelstar, but this is one of the better attempts at a wargame you don't have to be a long-term hospital patient to enjoy properly. Better luck next time, Ubi Soft.

Battle Isle logo CU Amiga Screenstar

With a scenario straight out of sci-fi cheapy, The Last Starfighter, UBI Soft's crack at the strategy genre pits the player against the might of either the computer or another player in a battle to save the world (again).

Battle Isle is played over a series of 32 islands, which are split depending on the number of players participating. Each island is depicted as a detailed play area, upon which the land's many forests, ocean and any installations can be found.

Your HQ contains all the necessary military units, factories and depots to get you started in your quest for domination. In addition, the entire game revolves around this base, and the loss of it to the enemy of its destruction results in the premature ending of your campaign, as does the loss of all your troops.

The would-be leaders take turns in their movements, and must move their troops and vehicles across the sectioned grid one square at a time. Thus, a strategy is born as they determine which units would be the most advantageous to move early on, and how many troops should be left to guard the HQ.

Similarly, within their movement time, the player can effect repairs on their equipment and build more powerful weaponry in their factories. For such a simple system, though, the process of taking alternate moves adds an extra thrill to the game. Only so much can be done within each move and successful use of this time can swing the battle either way.

Another problem, though, is the actual lay of the land, and mountain ranges and marshes will slow your progress down accordingly.

Your units are divided into two main categories: support, which aren't particularly hot in combat but can provide much-needed back up; and combat which are where the big guns are housed. As well as the basic units, both the support and combat units have specialist installations and vehicles, such as the provider, a ground-based or aquatic loader, which can carry a selection of armoured vehicles. On the combat front, weapons include Iraqi-style super-guns.

To initiate a battle, a player must move his unit so that the 'victim' falls within range of the guns. In most cases, this means moving into an adjacent hexagon. Once positioned, the player then selects combat mode and clicks on the enemy unit to be attacked. If the participant has more than one combat vehicle within range of a target, he may launch multiple attacks, using as many weapons as he has available.

Battle Isle is a superb strategy game which will offer many hours of pleasure. As a two-player game, it can be played with only minimal attention to tactics, but as a single-player game it will require nothing short of mental gymnastics to succeed. Add to this solid gameplay, a neat intro and more options than you could possible wish for, and UBI Soft have a real winner on their hands.


Use depots and factories to repair damaged units and factories. All three types of building require power to operate, and although on the later levels additional power crystals can be collected, in the early stages a power-less building can no longer perform essential maintenance.

GUN HO! There are twenty-two different types of weapons, vehicles etc, although many of them don't become available until later. This is just as well because some of them are so devastating that a novice would be wiped out before he moved!

Battle Isle
  1. Your headquarters.
  2. A neutral factory waiting to be captured.
  3. One of your depots.
  4. A neutral depot.
  5. Mountains are impassible to all but Demons (Robotic Infantrymen).
  6. Ah, so this is where the enemy lives.
  7. Forests will slow down most units.

Battle Isle... ... Scenario Disk 1 logo

UBI Soft * £19.99

Just the thing for those of you that have completed all the levels in the original Format Gold-winning Battle Isle game. This add-on disk comes with a new set of futuristic scenery squares, plus a whole range of new levels to go to war on.

The gameplay is the same as its predecessor, and you need the original game to prepare a working version with the new levels on. There are no new features or surprises; even the vehicles and aeroplanes are the same. But the game is still great fun and keeps you entertained for many an hour.

Battle Isle... ... Scenario Disk 1 logo

Wer sagt da, Strategicals wären nur was für stille Tüftler, während sich die Massen ganz woanders austoben? Komischerweise war just das strategische Battle Isle eins der meist gekauften Spiele des letzten Jahres - und die Massen riefen lauthals nach mehr!

Also brütet das Blue Byte-Team über "Battle Isle II", strickt an der eng verwandten "History Line" (Preview im letzten Heft) und überlegt sich, wie man den Fans die Wartezeit verkürzen könnte. Kurz und gut, man ging in sich, und was fand man da? 24 neue Solo- und 8 frühlingsfrische Zwei-Spieler Landschaften!

Einer alten Ergänzungsdisk-Tradition folgend vergeben wir keine Bewertung, denn am grundsätzlichen Spielverlauf hat sich ja nichts geändert: Nach wie vor geht es darum, entweder das feindliche Hauptquartier zu stürmen oder sämtliche gegnerischen Einheiten aufzureiben, immer noch erhält man ein Paßwort für jedes eroberte Eiland. Steuerung, Musikbegleitung, Truppen, all das ist vollkommen identisch. Wegen der besseren Optik kämpft jetzt allerdings nicht mehr Gelb, sondern Rot gegen Blau, außerdem wurde die gestrichelte Umrahmung der Sechsecke beim "Reichweiten-Test" durch eine langgezogene, etwas dickere Linie ersetzt. Die Action-Sequenz ist ein bißchen detaillierter gezeichnet, und bei den neuen Landschaften selbst hat man sich viel Mühe gegeben. Manche sind mit Schnee bedeckt, in anderen knirscht der Wüstensand, und einmal existieren Eis- und Sandwüste sogar friedlich nebeneinander.

Für 59 märke ist die Data Disk somit zwar bestimmt keine billige, aber doch eine wertvolle Ergänzung für altgediente Insel-Strategen; Neu-Insulaner müssen sich zuerst das Hauptprogramm besorgen, denn eine allein lauffähige Version wie bei "More Lemmings" gibt's hier leider nicht. Was es gibt, das sind eine 60seitige Fortsetzung der Battle-Isle-Story, ein Ray Tracing Poster und wieder viele durchkämpfte Nächte! (C. Borgmeier)

Battle Isle... ... Scenario Disk 1 logo

It's been said before, and I'll be the one say it again: reviewing data disks is always a bit ridiculous. If you loved the original, then you're bound to go a bundle on some extra bits and pieces for it. And if you don't own (or no longer want to play) the original game, then it's of no interest to you.

So, in a time-honoured, tried-and-trusted, cut-and-dried kind of way, I'll tell you that the scenario disk offers Battle Isle fans 34 new maps (25 for the solo mode, and nine for two player games), plus plenty of more subtle bits and pieces such as larger maps than in the original game.

Of course the new map layouts require players to devise new strategies overcome new challenges, and basically find new ways to blast the opposing side to kingdom come.

But wait! What about all you people who don't own Battle Isle? Maybe, you're sitting at home, reading this, and wondering whether to fork out for the original game (and maybe this data disk too).

For the record, Stuart gave it 78 percent way back in issue 9. His main beef with the program was the amount of time the computer took to make its moves, and of course this problem still remains. But it's in two-player mode where Battle Isle really comes into its own, turning into a fast and furious wargame (yes, it can happen).

So, um, there you have it. As data disks go, this one's good value for money. And while not solving the main problem of the original game, the scenarios within do offer a hulluva lot of playing time. So, Battle Isle fans, this is the place to come.

Battle Isle Scenario Disk 2 logo

Most war heroes are happy to spend their retirement writing biographies, complaining about civvies or meddling in politics. However, it seems that the makers of Battle Isle (which went Gold in AF29) weren't keen on putting the game out to grass and have started another war.

Battle Isle was a sort of Apocalypse Now meets The Battle of the Bulge at the Mother of All Battles. Battle Isle '93 is like a psychotic tank drivers' convention held during NATO exercises on the set of Empire Strikes Back. There are subtle differences between the two warriors, but amid the chaos of the battle they're hard to spot.

First impression suggest that this is a major re-working of the old classic. New moonscape settings - the wars are fought on alien satellites - give '93 a fresh face. All of the original Battle Isle units have had their powers modified and a smattering of intriguing new toys are on display to encourage destructive experimentation.

Destruction guaranteed
Like Battle Isle, '93 is an escalating arms race. 24 war zones lay in ambush for would-be generals. Each battle introduces new vehicles, new terrain, and all manner of other tactical twists in a strategy masterclass.

The infantry, tanks, aircraft, artillery, boats and tanks must be moved about the hex-map to trap and kill the enemy. On the fields of fire it's experienced troops, running repairs and custom-built kit that prove to be the key. That's if you're to turn the almost overwhelming tide of hardware pouring out the Blue factories.

In both Battle Isle and '93, knowledge is power. An innate understanding of each unit's range and strength is vital for victory. But then so is watching your opponent's screen as they move. Precise knowledge of which units work well together, which weapons need time to set up and the likely outcome of each battle has to be earned though. And these lessons only come in hard-to-swallow defeat flavour.

Battle Isle '93 is a more polished game than the original. The power of each vehicle has been honed to offset the flaws and flukes present in Battle Isle. The new units, such as invisible blocker droids, open up tactical possibilities which make the battles harder and the strategies more elaborate.

Looking for a fight?
Battle Isle '93's problem though, is not in the way it differs from Battle Isle, but in the way it stays the same. Of all these similarities the battle resolution sequences are the most disappointing.

In Battle Isle the outcome of each specific fight was illustrated with little blokes scraping from an overhead view. In History Line - Battle Isle's First World War cousin - this was switched to a pseudo-3D perspective. '93 plumps for the older overhead-style. The result means fewer disks, but much less spectacle.

Battle Isle '93 is an upgrade and not a sequel (Battle Isle 2 is already in development). Veterans will appreciate the quality of the game, but newcomers would be better advised to battle History Line first. It's better looking and the historical overtones make the war a little more fascinating. Still, if you're looking for a fight...

Battle Isle Scenario Disk 2 logo

Während der Nachfolger "Historyline" die Charts abräumt und das Originalprogramm bereits an der Compilation-Front kämpft, schickt Blue Byte nun noch eine zweite Datendisk zur Unterstützung des Erststrategen...

Wie bei derlei Ergänzungen üblich, sind das Gameplay und die Steuerung (per Stick, Maus oder Tastatur) hundertprozentig identisch mit dem originalen Kampfgeschehen. Oder sagen wir zu 99 Prozent, denn die Computergegner haben anscheinend im Lauf der jahre dazugelernt; sie agieren jetzt nämlich ein bißchen flotter und auch geschickter als früher - etwa, indem sie ihren Nachschub nicht mehr allein über die Straßen heranschaffen, sondern dafür das gesamte Areal ausnutzen. Außerdem finden sich unter den insgesamt 26 Einheiten auch ein paar neue Modelle; allen voran der schwerfällige Mammut-Panzer "T 100 Zeus", der sich gleich auf zwei Wabenfeldern des Splitscreens breit macht.

Das aufregendste Feature ist aber mit Sicherheit, daß die 24 Solisten-, acht Zweispieler- und zwei Geheimlevel dieser "Datadisk" selbstständig spielbar sind! Man kommt also auch ohne das Hauptprogramm in den Genuß der ebenso neuen wie futuristischen Mondlandschaften mit ihren Kratern und Lavaströmen. Die beteiligten Einheiten und die animierten Zwischen- bzw. Endsequenzen wurden natürlich ebenfalls auf Science Fiction getrimmt, dazu erklingen drei neue Hintergrundmelodien. Trotzalledem verzichten wir in altbewährter Datadisk-Manier auf eine Notenverteilung, denn so tiefgreifend sind die Änderungen nun auch wieder nicht, daß sie sich bewertungstechnisch auswirken würden.

Aber großzügig wie wir sind, verraten wir Euch absch(l)ießend noch den Preis für das futuristische Schlachtenparadies: Mit 59 Zügen seid Ihr dabei, wenn es auf dem Mond zur Sache geht - eine Investition, die sich nicht nur für alte Inselkämpfer lohnt! (C. Borgmeier)

Battle Isle Scenario Disk 2 logo

In the world of high-tech wargames, no man is an island. But some moons are.

War may be hell, but warfare, it has to be admitted, is a pretty cool recreational activity. Don't you believe me? Let's compare it to some other popular pastimes. The Rubik Cube, for example, took the world by storm in 1982, so much so that you couldn't walk down a street or tune into any TV channel without some annoying precocious kid proving that they could do it in under 13 seconds.

That year also had Beirut as a bit of a biggie news-wise, with the Israeli army moving in as things rapidly went downhill. The point is this - where are the Hungarian Professor's plastic cubes now, hey? Gathering dust under so many million beds, that's where. But what about that ill-fated city in the Med? It's still getting shot up by various incomprehensible factions and militias.

Yeah, fads come and go, but what is here to stay. The reason? Sadly, there's a lot of people in the world who seem to like it. A journo once asked wounded photographer Tim Page why he photographed troops in Vietnam in a glamorous way, and he replied something along the lines of "Are you kidding? How can you take the glamour out of a tank or a helicopter gunship? They're the most glamorous things you're ever to see."

Forget hula-hoops, pogo sticks and skateboards - killing people is a craze that's captured mankind's imagination for the last several thousand years, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Which raises the obvious question - why are computer wargames generally so crap?

I mean, you take an activity with the complexities of chess, the excitement of Hollywood's Golden Age and where the stakes are, quite literally life or death, and then reduce it to a load of squiggly lines on a map accompanied with a Yellow-Pages-sized manual. As a wargame fan myself, it's a bit of a downer not only that people laugh at the genre, but also that in most cases the derision is entirely deserved.

Not so this time though, as for the last few days I've been going into sulks every time my 'boys' o into the meat grinder, and even gone so far as ordering the summary execution of Tim after he mistakenly put sugar in my tea. Three days on from the first time I called in an air strike of an enemy bunker line, I'm still furiously playing it. In fact, I'm actually playing it now.

That's the good thing about wargames - they wait for you on their home planet Chromos during the original Battle Isle scraps, the battling powers of the Drullic nation and the robotic Skynet Titan forces have moved onto one of the planet's moons.

This is a wargame that works

The reason for this constant conflict (other than to provide us with entertainment) is to collect the essential mineral Aldinium. The reason for collecting Aldinium is to build more weapons so that the war continues. Sounds mad? That's because it is mad, but then again what could be more insne than brother killing brother? And while we're on this anti-war things, exactly how many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?

Dumb story huh? However, it gives you loads of opportunity to lock horns with the bad guys across lava-filled valleys and grey, pumice-laden plateaux and lots of other lunary type landscapes. Across this scarred wasteland you can wage 25 battle against the computer and nine separate scenarios against a friend.

You can win in two separate ways, the first and most realistic being the capture of your enemy's base, while the other, more videogamey way is the total annihilation of the opposing forces. Infantry units are the only units that can enter enemy buildings, but they're pretty feeble, so you've got to protect them with armoured units and air cover.

The computer system's just wonderful, with all the options you need being provided by simple joystick commands. Your actions are divided into a move phase followed by an attacking phase, and you're left in no doubt as to what you can and can't do.

When you select the move option, all the possible positions you can place the unit are highlighted and, similarly, all available targets are pointed out. This method of splitting the action up is a bit confusing at first, as there's a chance that you'll tell a unit to move, but then it'll be destroyed in the combat round before it reaches its destination. If you think of the command phases as being ike giving orders to the troops, and the action phases like the war being fought, then it all makes a lot more sense. Honest.

Tactics, tactics, tactics - that's what this is all about. If you try and be all heroic and solitary, you'll trashed in a very short time, so you've got to co-ordinate your units. An infantry attack needs to be protected by ground attack planes, which in turn need to be protected by fighters. On the ground you need tanks and artillery to pack some punch, and a anti-aircraft batteries. Needless to say, this ideal situation rarely occurs, so you've got to rely on a fair bit of luck and the hope that your enemy's going to mess up in some horrible way. Just like the real thing.

This is a wargame that works, it's as simple as that. No need for thick manuals or tricky sub-sections. There's really no need for dumb story lines, although that doesn't seem to stopped them. I'm reduced to hideous cliches like "it'll take a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master" to describe the simple appeal and the hugely complex gameplay. All I can say is that this is one of the few games I'll be adding to my personal collection.

Battle Isle Scenario Disk 2 logo CU Amiga Screen Star


With Battle Isle and Historyline under their belt, Blue Byte have established themselves as programmers of first-class strategy games. Now they have released Battle Isle 93 to hammer home the message.

The war which began on Chromos in Battle Isle has now spread to its volcanic moon. As resources on Chromos became scarce, you launched expeditions to the moon to mine the energy mineral Aldinium which is in plentiful supply there. Unsurprisingly, the enemy do not want you to gain control of the moon and so the fight continues...

Battle Isle 93 uses exactly the same user-interface as its predecessor although there are numerous subtle differences in gameplay. The most obvious difference is in the graphics. The lush greenery of Chromos has been replaced by the barren and at times volcanic terrain of its moon. Unscalable cliffs are a new feature of the terrain, obstructing ground-based mechanical units and literally forcing them to move in certain directions. Lava flows and craters also add another element of strategy to the game.

Most of the units from Battle Isle are still present in The Moon of Chromos, but they have all been redesigned for the satellite's harsh terrain. For example, troop carriers can now be very effective offensive units thanks to their mini-turrets. By contrast the FAV Busters are now less potent, although they have a greater attack range. There are also some brand new units, including a nifty invisible mine called a Virus!

Although I am not an expert player, I initially found The Moon of Chromos much more difficult than its predecessor. The computer seems to play a much more intelligent tactical game than before, although it still sometimes exhibits illogical strategy where factories and depots are concerned. Even on the early levels, the game will take at least half an hour to complete and the later levels will take four hours or more.

I am glad to say that the game is hard drive installable, and there are separate versions for ordinary or accelerated Amigas. It seemed to me that even the animations runs faster using a 68020 processor (such as that found in an A1200), but with n '030 this is not the case.

With Battle Isle 2 due for release later this year, The Moon of Chromos is simply a stop-gap measure to satisfy those people who cannot bear to wait. However, the gameplay has been tweaked in many areas so it is not just a glorified expansion disk. There are enough differences to make it feel like a new game, and I am certain that Battle Isle fans will enjoy this game just as much as they enjoyed the original!