The M1A2 Abrams battle tank sports a 120 mm cannon, depleted uranium armor, and sophisticated battle management systems. Its destiny is to ruin the very best days of bad guys. Advice: if you’re on the wrong side of it, play dead.
Interactive Magic’s Spearhead will be the last M1A2 Abrams tank simulation to roll by for a while. The most memorable of past M1 tank titles have been Microprose’s M1 Tank Platoon 2, a meticulously realistic sim, and Novalogic’s Armored Fist 2, a less lifelike but highly entertaining game. Though tilted toward realism, both real and entertainment elements were built into Spearhead by Zombie, the developer, to make this tank title a hybrid of half sim and half game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Spearhead has all the views, weapons, and systems of a typical M1 Abrams tank sim. The player can drive, fire, or make command decisions from the respective views. There is also a chase and a cupola view. Views are easily switchable until you start trying to make command decisions from the cumbersome IVIS (Inter-Vehicular Information System) interface. The interface demands that you leave other positions in order to give orders, re-supply, or call in artillery. You can’t even keep an eye on the map without worrying about what your tank might run into while you are plotting.
The most important part of any M1 tank sim is driving around and blasting things. Spearhead’s physics allow tanks a little extra speed while traveling on roads and a bit of slowdown when climbing hills. Spearhead’s 120 mm gunners can choose from either heat or sabot ammo. MPAT and Staff rounds are not modeled. When you run out of ammo for the big gun, try the .50 cal cupola and 7.62 mm coaxial machine guns.
The campaign scenario begins with a Libyan invasion of Tunisia. The action is in response to an assassination attempt on Libya’s president by a Tunisian president who is nervous about instability in the region. The U.S. military must drive out the Libyan army and accompanying rebels. While this political situation does not seem too far-fetched, I doubt that the mothers of America would accept too many body bags from an obscure middle-eastern country hundreds of miles west of Israel. Single missions such as the famous battle of 73 Easting are also available.
Spearhead was supposed to dazzle us with translucent smoke, dynamic lighting, variable weather conditions, and other special effects. If I compare the effects in Spearhead with the norm in 3d accelerated games, Spearhead comes up somewhat short. Too often I observed the same old 2D animations upon pulverizing a T72 or BMP.
I also got the impression that there just weren’t enough vehicles, buildings, trees or whatever placed around me. Of course, deserts are supposed to be barren, but I suspected that the graphics engine might not be able to handle a lot of objects and activity well.
I heard all the appropriate voice commands shouted, like "Identified" (target lazed) and "Up" (gun loaded and ready to fire). I was impressed by the less obvious sounds like engine whir and turret movement. I noticed even more subtleties when machine gun bullets pinged enemy vehicles. The sounds came through surprisingly well. Certainly, I found nothing lacking in this area.
Windows 95 with 100% DirectX-compatible drivers, Pentium processor, 133 Mhz or faster, 16 MB RAM, SVGA video card, 4X or faster CD-ROM drive, sound card.
Recommended: Pentium 200 MHz or faster processor, 3Dfx Voodoo, Voodoo 2, or Power VR 3D accelerator card, 32 MB RAM
Inside the box, I found everything except a free prize: the traditional manual, key command card, and of course let's don’t forget the warranty card. I always appreciate documentation that offers useful tips instead of merely dumping all the how-tos in our laps. The manual also included such pleasant details as vehicle stats, contour maps, and even a glossary.
Spearhead can be fun if the player is in the right frame of mind. A few brief times, both in single and multiplayer modes, I felt pulled into the desert universe to face dangerous armored foes. More often, I found myself struggling to enjoy the game. That ain’t good. Spearhead seems to lose out to the gameplay and graphics of its predecessors, M1 Tank Platoon 2 and Armored Fist 2. Instead of recommending Spearhead to the average gamer, I will relegate it to the hardcore tank sim player.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP