M1 Tank Platoon is a tactical simulation of tank warfare, released by MicroProse Software in 1989, for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC compatible home computers. It featured solid-filled polygon graphics that could render expansive terrain, and gameplay that was a mixture of first-person tank warfare and tactical simulation. It sold 500,000 copies, a large amount by the standards of the time.
It was followed by a sequel, M1 Tank Platoon II, which was released by MicroProse in 1998 for the PC.
The player is put in the position of a tank platoon commander in charge of four American M1 Abrams tanks in a fictional campaign of battles against the Soviet army in Central Europe. The player can give orders to friendly units via a tactical map of the battle area as well as taking control of a single tank - assuming the role of either the tank commander, driver or gunner.
Depending on the player's tastes, the whole game could be played more like an action/simulation game or like a strategy game. As platoon commander, direct control is limited to the four M1 tanks, however depending on the mission, support units like recon / battle helicopters, IFVs, artillery or other older M60 tanks were available and could be given orders via the tactical map.
One feature of the game was the ability to change the viewpoint to a supporting unit to get a "recon" from that unit's perspective. According to the manual, doing this from the M1 tanks was supposedly approximate to a tank commander standing on his tank hull to get a better perspective. This external view feature was also very good (for the time) for cinematic experiences like the "director's chair" where the viewpoint is set to a helicopter doing reconnaissance. The external view was also able to track other objects in the centre of the view. This was not limited to vehicles but could actually track missiles from the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles or even tank rounds.
Between the battles, surviving crew members increase in military rank and skill—giving the player an incentive to keep his team alive.
The Campaign typically depicted the rush across the Rhine by the numerically superior Russian forces. The Campaign would therefore start as defensive with the challenge being to use technologically superior NATO vehicles to stem the "wave" of Warsaw Pact vehicles. Success would mean the scenarios gradually put NATO on the offensive side with objective waypoints to reach/hold.
Terrain was a very important factor as going hull down was a critical strategy to surviving. Full use of the supporting forces made success easier with even the infantry disembarking from their IFVs to use Dragon anti-tank launchers. However, leaving them in one position too long invited an artillery barrage from the opposing force.