Harpoon logo

Umsetzungen vom PC auf den Amiga fallen bekanntlich mal so und mal so aus. Daß ein gutes Spiel dabei aber gleich zum Beinahe-Flop mutiert, kommt eher selten vor. Und das alles wegen eines einzigen bösen Schnitzers...

Als Harpoon vor etwa einem Jahr für den PC erschien, waren die Bildschirm-Admiräle begeistert. Kein Wunder, handelte es sich dabei doch um eine höchst komplexe Simulation mit angenehm einfacher Handhabung. Rein theoretisch (!) ist das auch am Amiga so: Man befehligt nicht bloß ein einzelnes Schiffchen, sondern gleich einen ganzen Flottenverband. Dutzende von Zerstörern, Flugzeugträgern und Hubschraubern kann man hier kreuz und quer über den Nordatlantik scheuchen. Aus "historischen" Gründen sitzt der Feind noch hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang, wer will, kann aber auch für die russische Seite in die Schlacht ziehen.

Man steuert die verschiedenen Einheiten ähnlich wie bei einem Strategiespiel, nur mit dem kleinen aber feinen Unterschied, daß hier alles in Echtzeit abläuft. Damit man bei der Unmenge des aufgebotenen Kriegsgeräts den Überblick nicht verliert, gibt es eine Datenbank, in der sämtliche Vehikel (von Freund und Feind) mit genauen technischen Angaben aufgelistet sind. Darüberhinaus wurden tausenderlei Optionen, Einstellmöglichkeiten und realismusfördernde Details eingebaut: U-Boote mit Dieselantrieb müssen gelegentlich zum Luftsschnappen nach oben kommen, man kann festlegen, ob das Wetter mitspielen darf oder ob der Einsatz von Atomwaffen erlaubt ist; es gibt eine Zeitkompressionsfunktion, Spielstände können selbstverständlich abgespeichert werden, etc., etc. Und das alles läßt sich völlig unproblematisch mit der Maus über Pulldown-Menüs bedienen.

Trotz wird man mit diesem Spiel auf dem Amiga nicht froh! Es wäre ja noch verzeihlich, daß die Ladezeiten deutlich länger geworden sind, und daß man sich jetzt zusätzlich mit einer Kopierschutzabfrage herumschlagen darf; aber während sich Harpoon am PC sehr flüssig spielte, schläft man vor unserer "Freundin" fast ein dabei! Das Programm bleibt ab und zu so lange stehen, daß man schon meint, es wäre ausgestiegen - unser Rekord lag bei zwölf Sekunden! Bei einem reinen Strategiespiel wäre das zwar ärgerlich, aber noch keine Katastrophe - bei einem Game, dessen eigentliche Stäreke in der Hektik des Echtzeitablaufs liegt, ist es absolut tödlich! Man braucht schon das Zeitgefühl einer Weinberg-schnecke, um hier alle zwölf Missionen nervlich durchzustehen.

Daher spielt es eigentlich fast keine Rolle mehr, daß Grafik und Sound (zumindest für Strategiespiel-Verhältnisse) recht ordentlich sind, sogar ein paar atmosphärische "Schicksalsmelodien" werden geboten. Ohne die andauernden Kunstpausen wäre Harpoon sogar ausgesprochen spannend, immerhin hatte Tom Clancy (Autor von "Red Storm Rising" und "The Hunt For Red October") seine Finger im Spiel, und das Gamedesign stammt von Larry Bond (Autor von "Red Phoenix", das ebenfalls versoftet werden soll). Tja, wenn nur das Wörtchen "wenn" nicht wär' (mm)


Harpoon logo

Thanks to the thaw in East/West relations over the last year and a half and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact as an effective fighting force, PSS's Harpoon has been outflanked and now looks rather dated. It simulates the possible naval engagements which might occur should the Warsaw Pact and NATO ever come into conflict.

The game is divided into a number of missions ranging fro a small scale skirmish to a full blow make-or-break battle the latter levels being for experienced commanders only. You're given full command over all ships, submarines and aerial forces on your side for each particular mission.

Strategy and tactics are left completely at your discretion - all you have to do is fulfill your orders using whatever resources are available.

This is a very detailed, complex simulation. It takes a while to familiarise yourself with all the commands and the general workings of the game, but it's worth persevering. The level of control over each member of your fleet is excellent and they can be combined into flotillas so you can issue orders to more than one ship at a time.

Definitely a game for the hardened strategy fan. Avoid if you're unfamiliar with this style of game.


Harpoon logo

Three Sixty/PSS, Amiga (1 Meg only) £29.99

Harpoon has had a difficult birth. I've followed its development from the initial game proposed by Larry Bond, to the decision to scrap the lot and start again, to the final release - was it worth it?

Harpoon (produced by Three-Sixty Software in the States) is a tactical wargame based upon Larry Bond's board game of the same name. The game includes two disks, a large format 77-page manual which still has to be squeezed into the ill-fitting box (a legacy of the initial PC version) and two mini-booklets. One from Larry Bond on hints and tips and the other from Tom Glancy, friend and co-author who appears in print to add a bit of glamour and attract a few more dollars.

I haven't got a hope of covering the game in full so here are the salient points. Adopting a modern-day time period, you take the position of Fleet Commander in what is the most detailed Amiga naval simulation I've ever seen. Missions range from the command of a squadron of missile boats to a full strike fleet in defence of the UK. Harpoon is also the master program for a range of forthcoming scenario disks, including the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, each of which should contain 15 missions.

On-screen information is extensive with a large database of hips, subs and aircraft accessed via menu. This option gives a tremendous amount of info: sensors, weapons, area of operation, and so on. After choosing the scenario, the side you wish to fight, a possible nuclear exchange, snorkeling subs, realistic weather, maintenance failure and ordnance you can begin play! During play a staff assistant will provide advice and reports.

The graphics are composed of three main screens - strategic, group and unit - although most of the play will be involved in the unit mode. After all, you play the game to simulate a fleet commander, not a single vessel.

You can play with three simultaneous levels of zoom and issue a host of orders (course directions, manoeuvere aircraft, change ship formation, etc). Graphics are excellent, with two icon sets available: Stylistic (a ship/aircraft icon) or CDS (Combat/Designation System). While the former is more 'user-friendly', the latter represents the actual NATO-type symbols used during official wargames, etc. Neat graphical effects include a mini-window showing ships firing and receiving hits. Sinking ships triggers a full-screen, dramatic scene plus relevant music.

I did become a little frustrated at the slow response to commands and, in addition, I am a little concerned with the solidity of the programming because the game crashed a couple of times (a weakness of the initial PC version, too). However, having said that, I still have to say that Harpoon is an extremely professional product which has obviously been produced by a very knowledgeable and accomplished research team.


Harpoon... ...Battleset 2 logo

Kenner haben es sicher gleich gemerkt: Harpoon ist alles andere als neu - bereits vor einem Jahr wurde die Seeschlacht vom PC auf den Amiga konvertiert und von uns getestet. Allerdings tut sich nun erkennbar mehr am Meer!

Bei Three-Sixty hatte man wohl einen großzügigen Tag, jedenfalls liegt neuerdings neben der originalen Monumentalschlacht noch das "Battleset 2" mit in der Packung. Dabei hatten wir uns seinerzeit über mangelnde Vielfalt doch gar nicht beschwert...

Ein Blick zurück ohne Zorn: nach wie vor übernimmt man die Kontrolle über einen Flottenverband aus diversen Schiffen, die wahlweise für die NATO bzw. UdSSR in den Kampf ziehen. Die Seeschlachten werden in Echtzeit und mit viel Liebe zum Detail in Szene gesetzt, wer sich am englischen Bildschirm nicht stört, darf sich mit der Maus durch zahllose Menüs nagen. Altersschwäche oder unsichere können zwischendurch ihren Spielstand speichern oder eine Tasse Kaffee trinken gehen: Harpoon spielt sich gemächlich wie eh und je, es wird reichlich von Diskette nachgeladen und der Bildschirm nur träge aufgebaut. Grafik und Sound lösen gleichfalls noch immer keine Sturmflut aus, insofern "Same procedure as last year".

Allerdings bekommt man für 99,- DM nun eine dritte Disk mitsamt deutscher Anleitung und Horrorvision: Mitte der Neunziger stürzten sowjetische Hardliner den guten Gorbi (zu spät, hä-hä...), kurz darauf beginnt der Totalangriff gegen die Nato. In 15 verschiedenen Szenarien muß der Spieler entweder die NATO- Truppeversorgung gewährleisten oder den sowjetischen Angriffsplan in die Tat umsetzen. Sofern Ihr Euch also von dieser "Neuauflage" nicht zuviel erwartet und das Original nicht, 1MB Speicher hingegen schon besitzt, dürft Ihr unserthalben gerne zugreifen 0 auf eine Bewertung haben wir aus naheliegenden Gründen verzichtet. (pb)


Harpoon... ...Battleset 2 logo

The one thing a wargame needs in order to succeed, in my eyes, is not to look like a wargame. And Harpoon can't be faulted on that count. In fact, if it didn't have the 'w' word written all over the packaging I'd have been fully prepared not to mention it all. It's more of a naval strategy game, where you're put in charge of a fleet of ships - plotting their courses, controlling their surveillance systems and attacking any baddies that approach. (The baddies are the Soviets or NATO, depending which side you're on, and there are loads of different scenarios to choose from). It's just like its bathtime soap-dish-and-sponge based equivalent, really, only a whole lot more realistic and with the added potential of air strikes and weather forecasts.

A good points/bad points review is inevitable, so for a change let's start with the bad points, foremost among which is the way the game's been put together. I'd be very surprised if it had been written in assembly language, judging by the speed everything runs at. Pascal would be more like it, or maybe Lisp. Speed shouldn't really be a problem in a wargame - it's nice to have a bit of thinking room - but literally everything in Harpoon behaves as if it's wearing cncrete wellies, from display updating to pull-down menus.

There's a delay of anything up to five seconds between clicking on something and anything happening to suggest that the game's actually interested in what you're trying to do, which gives the impression that the computer's tied up with some higher purpose, and would rather you didn't keep bothering it with your trivial aspirations.

Presentation generally is pretty poor, actually: good for a wargame, but a lot cruder than it might have been.

And the good points? Well, it's incredibly detailed as you can probably imagine. No expense has been spared in splashing specifications, formations and performance figures all over the place - it gets a bit bewildering at times - and the result is surprisingly realistic. If you'll forgive the lack of pace, the atmosphere could almost be described as tense. And you even get a 'North Atlantic Convoys' expansion disk thrown in for free, which makes for a welcome change form the standard 'Showdown in the North Atlantic' disk.

All this paints a clear picture of the ideal Harpoon player: terribly into war, weaponry, and battle plans (and perhaps a bit of a ship-spotter on the side).: patient, with a very slow metabolism, plenty of cash, and above all, prepared to allow for the requisite six days of solid manual-studying before dying in. I doubt I'll be playing it for much longer myself, but I can think of plenty of people who might. (Though I'd rather not).


Harpoon... ...Battleset 3 logo

Electronic Arts * £14.99

Harpoon is regarded as the modern naval board-game. When first released, computer Harpoon was not reviewed in Amiga Format - because it was extremely buggy. Happily it has since been updated (although it still doesn't work well with Workbench 2). Med Conflict contains 16 scenarios. The major players are the USA, Israel, Turkey, USSR, Greece, Syria, Egypt and Libya. Each battle uses different nations' navies, and range from small localised gunboat diplomacy to set-piece slugging matches.

The main difference between Med Conflict and other battlesets is play balance. American 'Super ships', such as Aegis cruisers, are simply not available. This gives a more even game.

Another important point is that because the Med is a small sea, the battles do not drag on as past battlesets have done. Harpoon is a slow, diverse, interesting tension-filled game.


Harpoon... ...Battleset 3 logo

Great, you're probably thinking if you've played through Harpoon's 'Showdown in the 'North Atlantic Convoys' scenarios, zapping the Soviets and getting a bit fed up with the rather samey North Atlantic scenery. (After all, there are only so many icebergs a man can take). Here's the third expansion disk which you're going to have to fork out an extra fifteen quid for, and which features 16 new Mediterranean games to play and lots of new equipment to use.

You'll be delighted to note that Battleset 3 gives you the chance to pit your navy against not just the Soviets but also the Arabs and the Israelis. You can even fight out Arab/Israeli conflicts if you want. And on top of that are a whole load of new ships and planes, including hydrofoils, attack helicopters and Type 209 submarines. (Fwoar, eh?)

It's hard to know what else to say, really. Playing through a few of the scenarios. I did find they were just a touch more exciting than their Battleset 1 and 2 predecessors (if that's possible), perhaps because of their greater proximity to reality, and also the increased emphasis on air power which makes things move a lot faster. Other than that, though...