Desert Rats (Cases) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Desert Rats
By Cases Computer Simulations
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #7

Desert Rats

This massive recreation of the North African campaign during World War II is by the same author who brought us Arnhem. It features many similarities in the graphics and event handling but of course the objectives, complexity and events differ greatly.

There are six scenarios within the game and these cover different periods from March 1941 to December 1942. The shortest of the six games is only seven turns long and can be completed quite quickly as an introductory battle. The longest is a staggering 624 turns long and will take many sessions to complete, let alone win. One or two players can play the game and against the computer you can control either the axis or the allied forces.

The game is played on a scrolling map of North Africa from Alexandria in the East to El Agheila in the west. It takes in such famous names as El Alamein and Tobruk, the conflicts involving each being recreated as one of the scenarios. The axis and allied units appear on the map as squares which you control using a cursor. When the cursor is moved off the edge of the screen, it scrolls rather jerkily to reveal more of the map.

Desert Rats

Each scenario has a different victory objective for the two sides such as holding or capturing a particular location or road. This has to be achieved by the end of a number of "turns", at the end of which you are told the result and given the option to extend the game to the next scenario. During the turns a number of commands are available for each unit under your control and also a status report on the units.

There are eight basic commands although they won't all be available to a particular unit at any one time. "Move" orders a unit to a new location and battle will result if it is adjacent to an enemy unit. "Assault" is the same as move except that the attack will be stronger and result in more losses on both sides. "Hold" will cause a unit to dig in where it is and "Fortify" will strengthen that order with more defences. "Travel" is used for rapid road transport and "Go To Port" will transfer a unit by sea between Alexandria and Tobruk. "Divide" will separate units stacked on top of each other.

"Report" is the last command and will give a readout on the strength, moves per turn, supplies, morale, attack modifier, efficiency and fortification of a unit. All this information, combined with that on the terrain and unit characteristics in the instructions, will help you decide what a unit should do and where.

Desert Rats

Much of the lasting challenge and complexity in the game is derived from gradually learning about the supply situation, reinforcements and combat effects that result with different events and actions. Particularly with the long scenario, this allows for plenty of depth of learning to the game and of course infinitely different courses of events dependent on your actions.

The map and units are nicely drawn and, although the scrolling is rough, it presents a pleasant screen display. The noises of battle are valuable for once with the length of the bangs and rat-a-tats indicating the damage done in a particular attack. A worthy follow up to Arnhem that will have war game fans engrossed for many weeks.

Second Opinion

Just as impressive as its predecessor Arnhem, although there are subtle differences in the gameplay. The seven-move scenario will prove in valuable in encouraging beginners to have a go. The 624 scenario, though, is strictly for the dedicated.

Third Opinion

Plenty of depth and some real staying power - this one'll keep the strategy fans up into the wee small hours. I wouldn't have minded something a little more informative than all those machine gun noises in the battle phases, though.

Good News

P. Six scenarios of variable length.
P. A massive full game that will keep you busy for weeks.
P. Plenty of depth to the game once you learn the basics.
P. Excellent instructions with historical notes.

Bad News

N. Not very attractive to non-wargamers.
N. The scrolling is jerky.

Green Screen View

This can be a bit of a tough one to play in mono. Allied and axis units do face different ways, but this doesn't help much.

Bob Wade

Other Amstrad CPC464 Game Reviews By Bob Wade

  • Legions Of Death Front Cover
    Legions Of Death
  • Feud Front Cover
  • Assault On Port Stanley Front Cover
    Assault On Port Stanley
  • Icon Jon Front Cover
    Icon Jon
  • Sepulcri Front Cover
  • America's Cup Challenge Front Cover
    America's Cup Challenge
  • Sailing Front Cover
  • Breakthru Front Cover
  • Vulcan: The Tunisian Campaign Front Cover
    Vulcan: The Tunisian Campaign
  • Zoids: The Battle Begins Front Cover
    Zoids: The Battle Begins