Armored fighting tactics have changed greatly since the end of the World War II. With SSI's Battalion Commander, a player can explore the tactics and strategies of the '80s battlefield.
In this solitaire-only game, players can essentially design their own battle. Choose a battalion, company or platoon to command. Select from five tactical scenarios-novice game, pursuit and exploitation, meeting engagement, attack, or defense. In every scenario except the novice, the player can choose from American, Russian and Chinese nationalities and determine the strength of both opposing forces.
Select a battlefield from a list of 40 different terrain maps. The screen cursor responds well to the joystick and smoothly scrolls across multiple horizontal and vertical screens. The coordinates of each screen are displayed at the top and the left. When the screen is scrolled horizontally the top values change, When the screen is scrolled up or down, the left values change. With this system, the player can immediately see the exact locations of both his own units and any visible enemies.
Combat units are shown as silhouettes depicting a tank for armored units, a truck for truck mounted units, an infantryman for dismounted troops, or two offset rectangles for platoons mounted in personnel carriers. Each figure represents one platoon. Other silhouettes show burning vehicles, objective locations, artillery batteries and supply depots.
A combination of joystick and keyboard commands control the gamut of important battlefield orders. Units can be ordered to a specific location by accessing the platoon or company followed by placing the cursor at the location and pressing the letter "G" for "Go to." Fire commands include orders for normal, suppressive and priority fire. Special commands are also included for smoke, digging in and removal or establishing bridges. In combat, the computer chooses the best targets of opportunity.
The well-written rules booklet contains helpful information and a welcome section on basic tactical doctrine. Although this game simulates a slightly higher level of command, it is hard not to compare it to its SSI forerunner, Combat Leader. Both games use a very similar system of play But I preferred Battalion Commander because of its better map-board, improved unit graphics and greater selection of commands.
Reviewed by Dr. John Stanoch