War games, eh? When was the last time you played a decent war game? I bet you haven't played a good one for years. In fact the last war game I can remember was Airborne Ranger from Microprose, so it comes as no surprise that Special Forces is from the same company.
Microprose are ultimately famous for their simulation games such as Formula One Grand Prix, Knights of the Sky, F-19 Stealth Fighter and even Microprose Golf. If you want a simulation game, then these are the dudes to get it from.
Special Forces is sort of a mix between watching Rambo and the International Chess Championships. It's a shoot-'em-up with a hefty bit of strategy thrown in for good measure.
You get to control a squad of eight butch, hard kick-ass, your mother wouldn't like 'em soldiers. You can only take four men into action at a time and each one has different attributes.
For instance, if one mission asks you to blow up something, you'd obviously be better picking Mike Kolowsky who's an explosives expert rather than choosing someone who just looks 'ard. Once you've decided who you're going to take to the war zone, you have to give them assigned codenames, choosing from the not very original list of Shark, Cobra, Tiger and Eagle.
I suppose changing the butch codenames doesn't look good in the middle or a fire fight deep in enemy territory, especially when your boss shouts "Oi Dingbat, take point, and Flat-eared Racoon, you form a pincer movement with me". Rather than die from a hail of bullets, the enemy is going to die from laughter.
Right, you've chosen your four men - they now need something interesting to do. There are 16 missions available to each squad. The missions are set in four areas of the world - Tropics, Desert, Arctic and Temperate.
There are several things to see and do in each mission, in fact I could even be Judith Chalmers for this next bit.
"Hello and welcome to Wish You Were Here. This week I'm off to the desert to a secret location to do a bit of tank-
"Well, as you can see, it's all fun and games here. Now to the Arctic for our first report, where..."
Each mission has a clearly defined objective, so if the mission report says that you have to blow up some fuel dumps, you have to go and blow up some fuel dumps.
Working out what you have to do is dead simple - actually achieving it is whole different kettle of fish. It's war out there chaps! The enemy aren't going to let you walk into their camp, blow up some fuel dumps and walk out again, oh no. They more often than not outnumber you a hundred to one, and each one of the enemy soldiers is after your blood.
To help you in your quest, thankfully, there are big guns for you to use. Maybe you'd like an off-the-
On every mission you are "dropped off" by a helicopter and you get to decide the "drop points" by using the ever-
If you press "I" on the keyboard, the map lights up with loads of little red dots. It really is quite terrific to watch (those red dots are actually the last known whereabouts of the enemy soldiers - Ed). Oh dear, are they? Whoops, never mind, they still look dead good.
Once out of the map option, you view your squad from up above, a "plan view" kinda thing. If you have ever seen the excellent Alien Breed by Team 17, then Special Forces is sort of like that, but smaller.
Now you might be pondering the question "How do your control four members of the team at the same time?" and the answer is, you don't. You can only control one Rambo at a time, but you can put your team in formation. Then when you move your team member, the rest of the team will follow him about.
You can swap and change between team members by hitting the F-keys. A handy option is Multi-View, which allows you to view all four team members at the same time - sort of like a four-team University Challenge view but without Bamber Gascoigne.
If you are a sort of, well how can I put it, err, lazy git, then there is an autopilot mode. You know when you're playing a flight sim and you just can't be bothered to fly the plane hundreds and hundreds of miles? You just stick on the autopilot, set the waypoints and hey presto!, you don't have to do anything for 20 minutes.
Well the principal is exactly the same. You can't be bothered running through dense jungle shooting, so you set each team member a destination point, press the space-bar and the computer takes over.
Well that's basically it. You choose your mission, men and weapons, enter the warzone, run around for a bit, waste a few enemy soldiers, complete your objective, get picked up by the helicopter, go home in time for Coronation Street, congratulate your men by giving them a couple of decorations and even a promotion, have a few beers, go to bed and get ready for the next mission. Hurrah.
Overall, Special Forces is a bit of a larf. My word, it's fun running around deserts and jungles killing the enemy and blowing things up. OK, the graphics aren't going to make you leap out of your seat and shout "arroogggaa", but they serve their purpose.
In fac the intro is quite good graphics-
Playability is brill. For instance at one point, you might be wandering around the jungle by yourself, when suddenly enemy soldiers appear from nowhere and you have to let it as fast as you can because you've run out of bullets. It's exciting stuff, this war business.
I don't know why I liked Special Forces. Maybe it was because it brought out my fighting instincts and that I knew I couldn't die, but when one of my team members was captured in the desert it brought tears to my eyes.
I instantly planned revenge - I went back into enemy territory, rescued my soldier and then I blew most of the enemy camp apart.
Boy, was I happy. I think you probably know the sort of feeling you get from Special Forces by now.
Special Forces, even though it's got that element of strategy, is still one of my current faves. Buy it now or Dan will come round your house in his new big and beefy army boots and, well put it this way, do you like hospital food?