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Posted on Jan 15, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Battlefront – Recon (PC)

By Larry Levandowski

More than 20 years ago, Strategic Studies Group (SSG), was at the forefront of developing computer war games with excellent interface design, detailed combat models and most importantly, wicked AI opponents. A lone survivor from the early days of computer war gaming, SSG has kept up the excellent work with its Decisive Battles series published through Matrix Games. But long ago, on ancient platforms like the C64 and Apple II, SSG produced some great war games like Europe Ablaze, Halls of Montezuma, and Rommel. Unfortunately, those titles are distant memories, with only vague Wikipedia entries to document their existence. But old computer gamers need not lament the passing of these games too long. The SSG / Matrix Team is working on resurrecting possibly the best SSG title from 20 years ago; Battlefront. The new version of the game, now twenty years in coming, promises all the greatness of the past, combined with new features made possible by the horse power of the 21st Century’s PCs.

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Out of box, Battlefront is a hex-map, turn-based game of battalion-level combat in World War II. The game will feature four battles; Saipan, Market Garden, Novorossiysk, and Gazala. These four conflicts alone are enough to keep gamers waiting on the edge of their seats but the game will also feature a full set of editing tools along with strong PBEM security. Gamers can then expect a game that will spawn an active player community and home-grown scenarios for years to come.

The overall look and feel of Battlefront borrows heavily from the Decisive Battles series, but the similarities stop when you look under the hood. Battlefront is really a new game altogether. The reduced scale of 1km per hex, and two turns per day, means that factors like deployment, command and control, sighting, and direct fire attacks over range will now play a critical role. The scale allows for special attacks like infiltration, banzai charges and surprise. Off-map movement areas are also a new feature. These will allow reinforcements to change points of entry simulating strategic influences on tactical combat.

Last year, the game was slated for a Fall 2006 release, but according to the SSG forums, a stronger AI opponent was desired after initial play testing. As a result, the game is being retooled with the warcard system, first put in place for SSG’s Carriers at War. This system promises that user built scenarios will have strong flexible AI opponents and is well worth waiting for. After all, the war gaming world has waited 20 years for this, what are a few more months?

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