Before you start playing Interactive Magic's iM1A2 Abrams, you must do two things. First, get all your work/chores/interruptions out of the way, because playing this game will take serious time. My other suggestion is to read the manual. This is not an arcade tank game. This is a battlefield strategy simulation.
You command a minimum of four M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank that comprise your platoon. Together with other vehicles including helicopters, artillery and other tanks, you can campaign through some of today's global hot spots.
You can control your tank from each of four positions: Driver, Gunner, Tank Commander (inside) and Tank Commander Un-buttoned (outside). Artificial intelligence takes over any seat you are not occupying.
The driver directly controls the movement of the vehicle, answering commands from other positions. The gunner aims and fires the main weapon of the Abrams, a 120mm gun. The gunner chooses from several ammunition types to best fit the target. Each target can be 'locked' by laser, and the cannon will auto-correct for movement and distance. A delay between shots simulates the reload time, while a longer delay is necessary to change ammunition types.
The tank commander actually has two positions. External, or un-buttoned, is similar to riding on the top of the turret. Great field of vision, but not much shelter or control. The buttoned position provides access to the tank's brain, a computerized targeting/command system. From here you can identify targets to the gunner, direct your tank or others to certain waypoints, and plan your strategy.
Battles consist of variations on either attack or defensive goals. You input your strategy into the tank's computer, and it can be updated at any time. You can plot waypoints for your teams to control movement, and can choose from several formations of tanks.
Scoring is a combination of accuracy, units killed, and the achievement of the goal. In simplest terms, destroy everything the enemy has while protecting your own teams, and you will win.
With three campaigns based in the Persian Gulf, Ukraine and Bosnia, there is plenty of play in this game. More complex scenarios will occupy you with planning and implementation of detailed strategies.
Graphics are about what you would expect from the inside of a tank. The internal interfaces are detailed and rather realistic. Viewing the outside world loses much detail, but detail in the desert of Persia would be wasted -- sand is sand after all.
No big surprises here; all the sounds are pretty much what you would expect. There is no background soundtrack, and distractions are minimal.
Windows 95 and 100% compatible computer system (including 2X or faster CD-ROM drive, 256-color SVGA video card, sound card, and input devices). Minimum requirements Pentium with 16 MB RAM.
Reviewed on P-133, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster 16, DS 2000 Stealth 3d Video (2Meg)
Read the manual. I am not kidding, or the first body bag you fill will be the one with your own name on it. The option for single mission places you in control of four tanks very near several enemy units. Aiming and firing the main gun of the M1A2 is not simply point-and-shoot, and communicating with other tanks for support is your only hope.
Interactive Magic has created a premier strategy game, reminiscent of Squad Leader and other RPG/strategy games of the early '80s. The detail and complexity provide a fun interface for a very challenging game.