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Posted on Jun 8, 2007 in Electronic Games

Theatre of War (pt.1) – Basic Training

Jim H. Moreno

With the first half of task three completed (which was to disable the German tank), a two man team appears on the scene. Their goal is to capture the now unmanned but otherwise intact tank, and use it later against another German unit, which is not yet visible.

But before rushing to enter the tank, we take a few potshots at the fleeing German tankers. No mercy!

Boarding the tank is again done in exactly the same way as manning a gun or MG. Select the soldiers and right-click on the vehicle. If it is an active enemy vehicle, the cursor will switch to a targetting icon, indicating that you can engage the target. But if it is an inactive (but not disabled) vehicle (friendly or enemy),the cursors indicates that you may capture the unit.

Doing so is possible at any time and with any man on the battlefield, but it might not always make sense. First of all, you need a soldier with a high enough skill (e.g. driving, marksmanship or gunner) to use an enemy weapon at all, and even higher skill to do it effectively. Secondly, while you can use the vehicle during an ongoing battle, you cannot later reuse it for other battles (it gets automatically removed from your unit roster betweeen missions later on), so trying to capture enemy equipment while risking your core units is rarely a good idea.

Ready to move out!

A German recon squad accompanied by an armored car appear on the scene, and we order the tank by clicking on the now active tank icon and right-clicking on the enemy car to open fire. The tank engine roars as the tank rotates to face the front towards the enemy, and lets loose a burst from its 20mm auto-cannon. It misses wildly…

…and rips a few gaps into the stone wall in the background (all terrain in TOW is partially or fully destructible), but the next burst is right on target. No surprise, firing from point-blank range (which, in future missions, will be a rare occurrence as you will find engagement ranges of up to 2 kilometers in the game).

The enemy armored car is disabled quickly, and its crew bails out, while the tank mows down the accompanying infantry with its coaxial machinegun, mounted in the turret front.

Even though it seems to be an uneven fight (and, well, it is… but hey, this is a training mission and just for show), tanks do have some disadvantages. The above screenshots illustrates two things – a feature called “relative spotting” which means that the player only sees what the actively selected soldiers are able to see, and secondly the bad visibility of a buttoned up tank crew. The enemy infantry is able to hide in the high grass by lying prone and crawling, and if this wasn’t a tryining scenario, the tank would run the risk of being on the wrong end of an infantry close assault with grenades, anti-tank mines or an anti-tank rocket…

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