As you know, a few weeks ago I discovered that Atari – which owns many of the original MicroProse Software company’s intellectual properties – and Interplay Entertainment had released many of the games I owned in the 1980s and 1990s on Steam and GOG.com. They were, of course, tweaked so they would run on Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11, and at prices that no gaming grognard could resist.
I have, of course, bought a few of those titles, including Crusade in Europe, F-19 Stealth Fighter, F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0, and M1 Tank Platoon. I also bought Decision in the Desert and Conflict in Vietnam, but they kept on crashing and had to return them for a full refund.
Of the titles I mentioned above, the ones I’ve played the most are Crusade in Europe and M1 Tank Platoon. Crusade in Europe was my favorite strategy game of all time – at least in the purely military category – so I played through some of the scenarios that don’t require a long commitment. Back in the day, you could save a game in a file on a floppy disk if you had to go do other things – such as going to college or to work, say – and then resume gameplay later.
The reissued version of Crusade in Europe does not let you save any games to disk; I don’t think it was designed to be stored in a hard drive, so it doesn’t have a SAVED GAME folder. So, unless I go bonkers and decide to park my butt in front of my desk for an entire day, I doubt that I’ll ever attempt Scenario 5. Crusade: The Battle for France.
M1 Tank Platoon and the other titles came out a few years later, and they do have the ability to save games so you can play one mission, finish it, then save the game for play at another time.
Anyway, in M1 Tank Platoon there are four types of engagements. Two are for training purposes: Static Gunnery Training and Moving Gunnery Training. This simulates a tank platoon commander’s training and teaches the player how to give orders on the map, explore the three stations (tank commander’s open cupola, TC’s closed cupola, gunner’s station, and driver’s station, move, and fight a tank, and engage the enemy. In training scenarios players can experiment with different formations, learn how to use terrain for best effect in battle, and destroy enemy vehicles without being shot at. They don’t get points or promotions, but they do get practice.
The other two types of battles in M1 Tank Platoon are Single Engagements and Campaigns.
In either category, players do get points and promotions. However, this time around the enemy does fire back, and tactical blunders can (and often do) result in costly defeats, especially in Campaign mode.
In a Campaign, a player must lead his platoon of four M1A1 Abrams tanks through a 1980s-era World War III. The setting is always West Germany, so forget about fighting battles in other parts of the world; if you want that, M1 Tank Platoon is the game you need. The only variation in Campaigns is that one takes place in winter, the other in summer. And you need to do well in your battles because how well you do in one battle affects how the simulated Soviets will act in the next.
Well, after a week of only playing in Single Engagement mode – which allows you choose from six different mission types – I tried the Campaign mode for the first time. It took me a week from Stand To all the way to the war’s end, but I did complete it.
I suffered casualties, of course – I not only lost individual crew members who were killed because of enemy action, but I also lost four tanks (not all at once, as a tank platoon only has four M1A1 Abrams) throughout the entire war. I even lost one battle out of 10. So, it wasn’t exactly a “piece of cake.”
But, hey. I did it.
And that’s what counts.