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|Submarine Sea Battles
Wolfpack can only be classified as a genre buster, one of those rare games that sets a new standard for other releases in the same field to live or die by.
The Battle of the North Atlantic has long been a popular topic in other entertainment mediums. One may gain an appreciation of the surface warrior's perspective by reading The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas Monsarrat. To discover what life was like on board one of Admiral Doenitz's U-boats, view the film Das Boot. Or, if one is truly bold, dive straight into Wolfpack, a game that allows play from either side of this pivotal conflict.
The game includes twelve predesigned scenarios, some fictional, to illustrate particular tactics or serve as vehicles to learn the game, some based on actual convoys. In addition, the game includes a versatile scenario editor to allow modification of scenarios, as well as development of entirely new missions. Using these features, enterprising players with a degree of patience can create campaigns.
Missions can be day or night, and the period of the war, which affects the technology available, may be specified. As one might expect, the U-boats possess a distinct advantage early on, but it diminishes rapidly when Allied sonar and radar improvements occur.
During a mission, each unit's commanding officer possesses a distinct personality that impacts upon the unit's tactics. Whether passive, aggressive or somewhere in between, each unit will act independently until the player intervenes. Using the mouse (highly recommended), the player may jump from ship to ship, to coordinate attacks without fear of losing the big picture.
It is best to note which captains are the weakest and intervene on their behalf, leaving the stronger ones to their own devices. One can also sit on the bridge with the existing captain and simply observe his tactics. This illustrates the flexibility of Wolfpack; it allows players of varied skill levels to get into the game right away. Experienced players will have a field day, mastering both the destroyers and submarines. The game is deep and because of its complexity, Wolfpack should have even more endurance than the classic Silent Service (Microprose).
There is a strong difference between the VGA and EGA displays in this product. While the latter is all right, close-up views of the ships tend to be a blocky. The difference is not strong enough to discourage EGA owners, but VGA owners do receive much nicer visuals.
Operating at night under a cloud canopy with a few stars peeking through, the gamer sees the distant fires of ships sinking on the horizon. One hears (with the aid of an Adlib board) the reassuring rumble of the diesels, and the disconcerting thump and ripple of distant depth charges and hedgehogs falling on your brethren. The merchant you've been shadowing is wallowing like a fat duck. Below, there is a satisfying whoosh as the silver fish streaks toward its prey. Soon the clank of metal on metal precedes the billowing explosion that blossoms from the tankers belly. Get the picture? Don't miss it!