Team Yankee logo

Supplier: Entertainment International Price: £24.95

Released around the same time as MicroProse's M1 Tank Platoon, Team Yankee offers a different kind of tanking experience, one seeks to evoke that atmosphere and tension of real tank battles. Much more so than something so realistic you have to pause the game every two minutes just to see which key to press next.

Team Yankee is based on the book of the same name by Harold Coyle, and some game packages actually contain a copy of the book. While I would recommend reading the book prior to playing, it isn't necessary as the plot is fully explained before each tank battle. The game includes excerpts from the book, which is also written in a pretty turgid style, so don't rush out looking for it.

The story concerns the commander of Team Yankee, which consists of M1 A1 Abrams tanks and mechanised sections. These are split up into four units, each containing four vehicles, which can be ordered into a variety of formations. Thankfully they do follow your lead, so the prospect of directly controlling 16 vehicles is largely avoided.

Small screens appear for each unit leader, which can be expanded so you can see what is going on. Strangely enough, the gunnery system of simply pointing the mouse cursor and clicking, while not being in any way realistic, does stop the game from bogging down, and with Soviet shells landing all around, the objectives of simulating the tension and excitement of a tank battle are fully met.
Superbly entertaining and a welcome alternative to Tank Platoon.


Team Yankee logo

EMPIRE £29.99 * Mouse and Joystick

Driving a tank is no hassle: nothing gets in your way and you don't so much park as flatten. Life gets more complex, however, when you're in direct control of sixteen armoured units who are standing alone against the might of the Red Army. As Kipling nearly said, "If you can keep your tank while all around are losing theirs, you're a better man than I am, Private First Class Sean Bannon".

Team Yankee, a sixteen-tank-unit, is your charge and everywhere they move, everything they shoot, even what they see is under your control. The Russian army will try to brush your troops aside and sweep into Europe, so you must do your worst to stop them.

The vehicles in your stable are twelve M-1 Abrams, two M-2s, two ITVs and two M-113 APCs. Grouped in units of four (with always at least two M-1 tanks per unit) they must act in concert, supporting each other to win.

The game has two main modes: you're either in direct full-screen control of a four-vehicle unit, or have hands on all the 16 tanks using a four-way split screen view. Tank units are moved by selecting the map, marking a destination then choosing the vehicle formation and speed; then they'll drive to the destination. At any point you can pop inside for the gunner's view of what the lead tank of each unit can actually see, by rotating the turret from side to side.

Flicking between the full-screen views takes time and you may miss something vital, like a barrel-sighted Russian tank waiting for a kill. So it's best to operate all four units from the split window, flipping between map and gunsight windows individually. This way you always have at least three pairs of eyes scouting for the commie scourge.

The game itself follows a five-chapter format. To earn promotion you need to win five sequential battles, all of which test your armour management skills to the full. Rearguard actions and spearheading counter-attacks are just two functions you'll be asked to fulfil as leader of Team Yankee. The battleground features forests and rivers, towns and roads, all factors which heavily influence a tanker's fortunes in war.

All the actual shell firing is done manually, aiming the gun with a mouse cursor. The turret rotation and weapon selection are also mouse controlled, although loading is automatic and scarily slow. Sighting is made easier with a telescopic sight and fighting at night is made possible with an infrared 'scope that illuminates any heat sources out there.

Fighting is survivable when you have the time to fight battles individually in full screen mode; you can stop and examine foes, making sure they're Russian before battling them. Real war, though, demands that four battles are fought at once, forcing you to rely on the smaller windows. This makes identification difficult and blasting your own tanks in sheer terror is a real danger.

With serious tank identification problems, the speed of modern mechanised combat, as well as controlling sixteen vehicles simultaneously, Team Yankee's a real challenge. You give the orders and decide the strategy but must also ensure that no tanks are forgotten.

It's a nightmare blend of planning and action that will have you rewriting the battle-plan time and time again as unexpected enemies pop up in strange and curious places. Team Yankee makes the palms sweat with fear and the head ache in confusion. But remember you're all that stands between Gorby's day-trippers and the free world, so you must give it your best shot...

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The four-view screen is immediately understandable, giving enough detail to win the battle with. The flexibility is excellent: you're only ever a screen-flick away from a full-screen view of a unit on either the map or the battlefield, and the four-quadrant view is always available to see what the others are up to.

The battle view is good, but does tend to pixellise when magnified, making the tank camouflage too effective. This means differentiating between the good (US0, the bad (USSR) and the ugly (the US ITV) rather tricky. This could render the game unplayable, but the map helps out with large flags and a little confusion is only to be expected in times of war. Sounds are limited to a short overture at the start and loads of explosions during the game. Not much, but enough to drop hints that you're being shelled.

LASTING INTEREST

The five battles of Team Yankee are fought over and over again as your rise through the ranks. The main differences are an increased number of enemies and more cunning Russians. Five battlefields, no matter how differently configured, cannot be enough to simulate the whole war. Which is exactly what you want to fight once you get the flung of this tank commanding lark. Learning to control the tanks, though, is hard enough, and will keep any tanker busy for a long while.

CONCLUSION

Team Yankee blends a 3D arcade style tank blast with enough simulation to create a truly playable, if difficult, game. While it is accessible enough for anyone to play by ear, students of armoured warfare need not feel snubbed as Team Yankee's reliance on military technology makes it a fascinating exercise in modern war. Always destined to be a game and not a sim, Team Yankee recreates the feel of the novel on which it is based, not an Abrams technical manual. If you long for the thunder of a 30-ton destroyer then join Team Yankee. It presents a game in a sim's clothing, which when dealing with tanks has to be the perfect approach.


Team Yankee: Main screen explanation
  1. The view from unit one, who are currently crashing through a large clump of trees.
  2. Looking around from unit 2 and they can see themselves putting out smoke for cover.
  3. All clear for Unit 3.
  4. On map, view the cross marks where Unit 4 will end up. The stars and stripes show the current location.
  5. Toggle for quarter or full screen view.
  6. The view selector: choose between map, gunner or mechanical status checks.
  7. Direction of turret and orientation of the tank.
  8. Weapon selection, choose between HEAT or Sabot shells, TOW Missiles, Smoke or machine guns.
  9. Time elapsed on current mission.
  10. Zoom in on map.
  11. Magnification of map.
  12. Zoom out of Map.
  13. Current speed.
  14. Surrender.
  15. Pause.
  16. Relative strength of forces.
  17. Speed control slider.

Team Yankee logo

Kann's denn sowas überhaupt gehen: eine ernstzunehmende Panzersimulation, die trotzdem kinderleicht zu bedienen ist? Allerdings - gerade eben ist sie aus dem Unterholz gerollt!

Team Yankee beruht auf einem Roman von Harald Coyle, be idem übrigens auch Amerikas Oberfalke Tom Clancy seine Finger mit drin hatte. Umgesetzt wurde es von denselben Leuten, die uns schon "Jagd auf Roter Oktober" beschert haben. Das Szenario ist zwar mal wieder restlos überholt, aber dafür erfrischend simpel: Die Russen greifen (West-) Deutschland an. Ganz klar ein Fall für Sean Bannon, auch der "Panzertöter" genannt (angeblich verspeist er jeden Tag zum Frühstück ein paar von den Dingern). Im Spiel selbst geht es dann natürlich um das Übliche, also Gegner angreifen, Stellungen halten etc. Auch die beteiligte "Hardware" kennt man bereits von vergleichbaren Games: M1, M2, T-62, BTR-60 und so weiter.

Was Team Yankee dennoch einzigartig macht, ist die konkurrenzlos einfache Handhabung. Normalerweise haben (Panzer-) Simulationen eine Anleitung in Bibelstärke und eine Benutzerführung, die man erst nach einem ausführlichen Lehrgang kapiert. Hier wurde dagegen mal ein ganz anderer Weg gewählt: Ein vierfacher Splitscreen (der "Simultan-Kontrollbildschirm") ermöglicht es, alle eigenen Platoons (=Panzerzüge) auf einmal zu überwachen. Man kann gleichzeitig und ohne Umschalten in allen vier Fenstern rummurksen, z.B in einem ballern, im nächsten die Karte anschauen und in einem weiteren die eigetretenen Schäden begutachten.

Oder man macht halt überall dasselbe, die Möglichkeiten sind fast unbegrenzt! Wer trotzdem lieber mit einem großen Vollbildschirm arbeitet - auch kein Problem, ein Mausklick genügt. Bei alldem wurde die Realitätsnähe keineswegs vernachlässigt (beispielsweise langsameres Vorankommen in Wasser und Wald), dazu versüßen zahlreiche Extras das Simulantenleben (Nachsicht, Vernebelung, Artillerieunterstützung usw).

Nur das Schießen erinnert mehr an Games in der Art von "Operation Thunderbolt" (Klick & Bumm), aber so kommen wenigstens auch die Actionfreunde zu ihrem Recht.

Die Grafik ist popig bunt und recht schnell, die Geräusche sind fetzig, und die Maussteuerung ist über alle Zweifel erhaben. Weniger schön ist allerdings, daß es nur fünf Hauptszenarios gibt, die dazu alle in Deutschland angesiedelt sind. Auch die Missionen stehen alle fest (kein Editor), und Abwechslung durch verschiedene Schwierigkeitsstufen wie bei "Tank" wird ebenfalls nicht geboten. Langzeitmotivation ist daher nicht unbedingt die größte Stärke dieses Spiels, aber bis man alle vorhandenen Missionen durch hat, vergeht schon einige Zeit. Und vielleicht sind bis dahin ja auch ein paar Missiondisks erschienen?! (mm)


Team Yankee logo

Howard Coyle is rapidly establishing himself as one of the foremost military fiction writers in the world. Team Yankee the book, focuses on a tank and infantry platoon of the same name on the front line during the opening days of World War Three.
Team Yankee the game, features the same units, maps and five missions. Because at times the book reads like a technical manual, the programmers had no problem in getting detailed information on the tanks and weapons featured in the game. I've read the book several times and I immediately felt at home commanding Bravo company. The bulk of the platoon is made up from M1 Abrams tanks, twelve in total, plus two anti tank infantry transport vehicles. The two squads which consist solely of tanks are usually used to spearhead attacks, while the infantry and ITVs hold back and are used for long range tank killing.

Prior to a mission you're giving a pretty comprehensive briefing on what's expected of you and your men. This is also the time to decide where and when your artillery back up will fire during your mission.

As tank simulations go Team Yankee is more of a sim for the arcade player than for the strategist. The first mission has you decimating enemy tanks, hardly taking a hit. The second requires stealth more than intellect. There's just not quite enough to do to keep hard core sim fans happy. However if you get bored with games where you have to pore over every tank procedure right down to refuelling, Team Yankee might just be on the right track.


The controls are far more accessible than on the average simulation. At the bottom of the screen are icons for smoke cover, infra red, magnify view, weapons selection and laser sighting. At the top you can select a status report on that squad, a map or split the screen into four views, one for each group. To fire on an enemy vehicle you point the cursor at it and tap the left mouse button, it's easy enough until they start shooting back.
To move a platoon you simply select it, call up the map, point to a location and set the speed. It does prove awkward monitoring the different groups, especially when you're not sure where the bad guys are lurking.

Team Yankee logo

Empire, Amiga £29.99

Harold Coyle's bestselling novel was praised for its action and superb realism, telling the tale of how Team Yankee (a US army company) takes on the Soviets in World War III. The game reduces the novel to five scenarios, with you beginning at the rank of private. There are eight service records which automatically record the results of your battles, kills/losses.

Fortunately, losing does not wipe your record. If you complete all five scenarios you're promoted, making the game tougher with more intelligent enemies. So five ranks make twenty-five different battles, four of five which happen at night. Each scenario begins with a briefing, after which you can select the timing and location of artillery strikes (if available).

Once in the game you have command of four platoons, each containing four vehicles. Initially the screen is split in four showing the view of each platoon. Any of these displays can be clicked on to fill the screen. There are three types of display: on the Map Screen you set the destination, speed and formation of a platoon. The Status display shows how much ammo each platoon vehicle has, as well as its morale and efficiency. Finally there is a 3-D view which is always from the platoon's most powerful vehicle. Icons can magnify the view ahead, produce engine smoke and use infra-red to see through smoke. You can also rotate the turret and select weapons, the M-1 tank has HEAT shells, shorter-range but more lethal SABOT-shells and machine guns.

Other Army vehicles aren't so well equipped, the M113 troop carrier only has a machine gun, while the M-2 carrier and ITV have a machine gun plus a few TOW anti-tank missiles. Thankfully you don't have too many of these vehicles, but in later missions you'll have to protect a convoy of troop carriers. Other scenarios require you to defend villages or attack and secure set positions.


Robin Hogg After initial sceptism over Yankee's depth, I loosened up and began to enjoy the pure blasting with a healthy dose of strategy thrown in to keep you hooked. Using the gunsight to lock onto and then fire at targets smacks of Operation Wolf but with a little more thought about it. The Let Sleepings Gods Lie 3-D system has been speeded up markedly, seeing a column of tanks rolling past is very impressive! Mouse control and the icon system all work well with a rather nifty line in four views at once. What I really want to know is why didn't programmers ODE provide a lot more missions rather than the basic five just played at different skill levels. Surely the licence wasn't that restrictive? Let's hope Empire license Harold Coyle's second book, Sword Paint, and let ODE use the same system again with a bit more game depth.
Robin Hogg Yankee can't compare with M-1 for realism, but it's an extremely playable and enjoyable sim. The essence of the game is a mix of tactics - critical in positioning your forces and timing artillery strikes - and arcade action. Swiveling the turret, finding the enemy, getting a laser lock-on, waiting for a round to be loaded then knocking a tank out all requires good reactions. Then as soon as the first shot hits, the rest of the platoon will know your position and return fire, so it's critical to take them all out quickly. This is great fun, helped along by great graphics. Up close things are blocky, especially the UDG-style forests, but overall the effect is top-notch. The game's only real drawback is the lack of scenarios. Enemy intelligence does increase dramatically as ranks improve, but new scenarios would've been best.

Team Yankee logo CDTV

EMPIRE * £29.99

A straight port from the Amiga version of the tank game in which you control a squadron of four machines in a test of strategy. It's a good game, if not a great one, with the main mechanic being control from the map of the action in the 3D game-world.

It requires plenty of tactical skills which the cleverly-ramped, progressively harder levels will teach the novice tankie. The title provides fun and intelligent gameplay, but looks dated even though it is not that old.


Team Yankee logo CDTV

Beginnen wir gleich mit einem Schmankerl für Stratego-Simulanten. Als diese Vision vom Dritten Weltkrieg samt Panzerduellen in Good Old Germany (basierend auf einem Roman des amerikanischen Erzfalken Harald Coyle) vor zwei Jahren Premiere hatte, war das Szenario "Guter Ami vs. Böser Ivan" gottlob schon überholt. In puncto Technik, Handhabung und Spielspaß hatte Team Yankee die Nase aber voll im Wind, und daran hat sich auch am CDTV nichts geändert!

In fünf Missionen (gelöste Aufgaben werden mittels RAM-Card gespeichert) mit steigendem Schwierigkeitsgrad gilt es, die rote Flut zu stoppen, indem man seine vier Panzerzüge auf einer Landkarte herumdirigiert - und vor allem im detaillierten 3D-Modus schneller schießt bzw. besser trifft als der Gegner. Die seinerzeit gerühmte Userfreundlichkeit des Splitscreen-Spektakels werden zwar nur Benutzer einer Maus oder eines Trackballs bestätigen können, doch dafür fehlt nun die nervige Codeabfrage. Prädikat: In Ordnung.
(Empire. ca 109,- DM).