Personal Computer News


Author: Geof Wheelwright
Publisher: Imagine
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Personal Computer News #058


Stonkers is the war strategy game, streets ahead of anything else available. It may take as long to load as the Americans took to come into World War 2, but it's worth the wait.

You have a port and HQ to defend while trying to attack the enemies, and as you both start with equal numbers of divisions it's strategy that determines the outcome.

There are two levels of play - in the more difficult one you don't see the enemy till it's in the vicinity of one of your own units. The action occurs at the edge of two land masses, joined by a bridge, the terrain being hilly and partially wooded. Initially you see a large scale map of the area, on which is a diagonally striped cursor. By pressing the fire button, or appropriate key, the area under the cursor is immediately magnified 64 times and the screen switches instantly to the more detailed map.

On the smaller map the cursor becomes a cross, and you can move this to scroll the map in any direction. Placing the cursor over one of the unit symbols prints its details underneath, and, provided it is not already in motion, allows you to move it. Units don't move instantly, but follow the path you take with the cursor, and will stop at the place where you next press the fire-button, or when they reach the limit of their travel for that move. Their speed is governed by the terrain. You must keep supply trucks moving to back up your forces, and take care that your cursor doesn't stray into a patch of water.

Units engage in combat when they confront each other, by chance or choice, and an armoured division, which will always beat an infantry division, though the results of a match between the same divisions depends on their fatigue through travel, back-up and so on. You can always take the coward's way out and retreat. There are also regular ticker-tape bulletins across the screen, telling you when supplies are needed, when ships or enemy divisions are moving, etc. The graphics are good without being particularly spectacular but the speed with which you can move around and switch maps, to see your mobilised forces moving across the landscape, is very impressive, and the whole game is presented with style.

Geof Wheelwright

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