Under Fire For Apple
James V. Trunzo
Requirements: Apple II-series computer with at least 64K memory and a disk drive. A joystick is required for the Apple II +, but is optional on the Apple IIe and IIc. A version for the Commodore 64 and 128 is scheduled for release this spring.
If you're a war game buff and you've been waiting for the ultimate World War II infantry combat simulation, your wait may be over. Released by Avalon Hill, Ralph Bosson's Under Fire is an innovative milestone in all areas of computerized war gaming. It's one of the best war game simulations I've ever seen.
In fact, Under Fire is more than just a game: It's a complete, open-ended system in the same vein as its board game predecessor, the award-winning Squad Leader. With the three disks that come with Under Fire—a master disk, a scenario disk, and a mapmaker disk—you can design your own scenarios as well as play the standard games.
Although Under Fire is as complex as it is realistic, it is not a difficult game to learn (though playing and playing well are two different things). An extremely well-written rule book, complete with a step-by-step scenario, helps you get under way and allows you to absorb details bit by bit as you become more immersed in the mechanics of the game.
Under Fire lets you play solitaire or against another person, using one of nine prepared scenarios or one you have created yourself. You can assume command of men and weapons from the United States, Germany, or the Soviet Union. Each infantry squad, gun, and tank is individually represented on any one of three available maps: a situational map, showing the large-scale picture; a strategic map, depicting a smaller, more detailed portion of the battlefield; and a tactical map that shows the terrain and units to a degree of detail that is hard to believe. Frankly, an entire review could be written on this program's graphics alone.
Under Fire is so flexible that it truly lives up to Avalon Hill's boast that it's a "War Game Construction Set." When you combine the unit types, the terrain selections, the battlefield objectives, and the various orders of battle, there is almost no land engagement that cannot be accurately simulated. That's why the nine scenarios provided are named after historical encounters; they represent types of conflicts ranging from open-field firefights to house-to-house battles. You can attack or defend objectives, recreate breakthroughs, or enter into all-out slugfests.
Lavish attention has been paid to details such as troop morale, training, supplies, skill levels, hidden units, line-of-sight fire, and animated combat. At the end of a battle, you get a complete report of men lost, men remaining, armor lost, and other statistics.
This review really just scratches the surface of Under Fire. For example, the Apple version even allows for the optional use of a Mockingboard to enhance the sound effects of raging battles. Avalon Hill and designer Bosson have created what is sure to become a standard for computerized war games in the future.
Avalon Hill Game Company
4517 Harford Road
Baltimore, MD 21214