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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: March 16, 1998
From the company that has made a comfortable living producing turn-based, military simulation strategy games comes the latest in the Steel Panthers series, Steel Panthers 3. This game offers much of the same gameplay found in the previous titles, but with a few added twists and additions to keep things interesting. Between the scenarios, campaigns, battle generator, and scenario editor, fans of this series will find plenty to keep themselves busy with in this latest offering. For those who have played either of the previous two titles in this series, this game is simply an extension with a few added features.
Steel Panthers 3 is, in the most basic terms, a turn-based war game where you command military units in a variety of scenarios ranging fromWorld War 2 to the modern day battles with the most advanced and powerful weapons of today and tomorrow. You control everything from the squad level (i.e., tanks and infantry) to the brigade level, with units
assigned to individual leaders.
Each unit has a given range of fire and movement. You can tell a unit’s range of fire by clicking on it and then selecting a target hex. Information will pop up in a dialog box and show you the percentage chance that your unit will hit the unit(s) in that hex. Units have numerous states of movement status, or readiness, that correspond to how well it will attack enemy units and defend against enemy unit attacks. For example, a unit that is entrenched or dug-in will be in good defensive position, while a routed or retreating unit is not much of a fighting force. Each unit also has other important statistics like experience, the amount of damage the unit has taken, how many men are left in the unit, its supply and ammo levels, and so on.
In every scenario each side will have objective hexes that will be the focus of the battle. Your objective is to capture and maintain as many objectives as possible, keeping your opponent from these key positions. Of course the enemy isn’t going to let you waltz in and take what you want, so combat is the only way to be successful. During your part of the turn you issue commands as to where you want your units to go, or what actions you want them to take. This can include firing at nearby units, building defensive obstacles like barbed wire, dragon’s teeth, or mines, rallying troops whose morale is low, or other such actions. Once you have finished your turn and all of your leaders have issued their orders, the “action” phase of the turn will kick in and you will see combat take place as the enemy makes his moves.
I won’t go into too much detail on all of the variables that go into deciding combat for both the attacking and defending units, but here’s a snapshot. Obviously the type of weapon being used by the attacking unit is important, as a standard infantry unit won’t do as much damage to a tank as an anti-tank gun will. Also, the type of weapon being used has an impact on how quickly it can reload and therefore determines how many shots it fires during a given turn. The type of terrain occupied by the defending unit determines how much cover the unit can draw from its surroundings. Also, as I mentioned before, the movement status of both units impacts how it will defend or attack in combat, as will the direction that a unit is facing (i.e., tanks are more vunerable to attacks from the rear than from the front).
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