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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: June 15, 1998
Soldiers at War (SAW) from Random Games and SSI offers gamers the opportunity to lead a squad of soldiers in missions behind enemy lines. The campaign is a series of linked scenarios, each an important mission crucial to the course of WWII. The game offers a campaign of 15 scenarios as well as the ability to play single missions, custom missions, and multiplayer.
You select from a pool of 32 soldiers, each with their own skills and attributes; equip them with weapons and equipment; and then lead them through turn-based combat. You can take up to eight men with you on a given mission. In the beginning, each soldier is rather green and inexperienced. However, if you use them in a mission during campaign play and they survive, they gain experience and improve their abilities as a result. Each character has a number of statistics that determine their true skills and abilities, including agility, experience, weapons, leadership, explosives, and others. In addition to improving these attributes, soldiers can also be awarded medals for their performance during a mission, or be disciplined. Seven different medals are awarded based on points a soldier earns during a particular mission for completing mission objectives and killing enemy soldiers, and a soldier might even be disciplined if he is responsible for the intentional killing of innocent civilians or squad members.
As far as weapons and equipment is concerned, each unit has a certain carrying capacity designated by blocks of space; each piece of equipment, like a rifle, grenade, or ammo clip, takes up one or more of those blocks. In addition, a sliding scale shows how much each soldier can carry without becoming too weighed down. The types of equipment that can be carried are broken up into three categories: weapons, explosives, and equipment. The weapons and equipment available to you changes a bit each time. For example, on some missions you’ll need satchel charges to blow a target up or a mine sweeper to clear a beach for an incoming Allied invasion. In addition to the pre-mission equipment, you can also pick up items from enemy soldiers, exchange items amongst team members, and find supplies throughout the different maps.
Weapons include different guns from the WWII period, including rifles, pistols, and machine guns. The effectiveness of any given soldier with a particular weapon is based on their weapons skills. If someone isn’t adept at using a heavier machine gun, then equipping them with one will make them less effective than someone who is. One of the trickiest parts about the weapons can be the ammo and remembering which ammo goes with which gun. It’s not as clearly indicated as you might think (and as it should be) but with a little time you’ll get the hang of it. Grenades can come in quite handy for taking out groups of soldiers, or providing a smoke screen for your soldiers to move behind undetected. Equipment includes wire cutters for getting through barbed wire, the aforementioned mine sweeper, first aid kits, and a number of other helpful items.
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