Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery

I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Steel Panthers: World at War

My love for SSI's Steel Pathers began back in the late 80s playing Panzer Strike (WWII) and Overrun (modern warfare) on my friend Frank's Apple II-GS. We were both students of warfare and the games' authenticity and thoroughness
imparted a wealth of knowledge, some of which we both put to use from the podium.

Somebody produced Overrun for the PC, but the graphics looked hokey and it never caught on. Then SSI produced Steel Panthers for the PC: turn-based battalion-level mechanized combat using authentic WWII force simulations. It came out just in time, because Frank moved away. When Steel Panthers II: Modern Battles came out, I was in wargamer heaven.

Jon and I played many different war games, but Steel Panthers II hung around longer than any of them; we still baby the Gateway Pentium I (95 MHz overdriven to 120) that's slow enough to play the game. Now some gamers have published Steel Panthers: World at War, driven by the SP-III game engine (but not with some of the annoying features of Steel Panthers III).

Get the 8.20 version here. Get the 8.30 and 8.40 patches too!

I only played two solitaire battles, but good job, guys! I had a couple of Shermans and a mech infantry platoon and held off what looked like a company of Japanese infantry the first time and routed a company the second time. The designers seem to have axed the banzai-charge "feature" (which is all the Japs had going for them late in the war). Maybe if I change the date to 1942, they'll have some armor. The force selection menu is a smorgasborg; it seems off-board artillery is available even during meeting engagements.

The audio is top-notch! I turned off the musical soundtrack and terrain/weather sound (I don't need to hear it rain), but I loved the battle noise, especially the sproing of the Garand clip when US infantry fires, and the pop-pop of M-1 carbines when .30 Browning machine gunners fire their secondary weapons. I'm gonna try some Gray on Red tonight to evaluate the MP-40 and "Papa Shaw" sound effects.

It's amazing what gamers can come up with.

Hat tip, shout-out, and snappy salute to reader Freddieboomboom who sent me the link.

Update: Did Germany vs. the Reds. The sounds were completely different from US vs. Japan! I fought the Russian horde of cheap, great T-34s and scads of green "Papa Shaw" squads to a draw. Ivan took all my objective hexes, but I made him pay dearly. The best tank I could get was a Panzer III-h with a 50-mm gun, but I had a platoon of Marders and a section of STUGs who gave better than they got (before bailing out and dying in a hail of commie PPsh bullet hoses). I haven't yet figured out why the Kraut mortarmen never got to fire their weapons until the T-34 ran up to them; probably too far from their platoon leader. The "opportunity fire" option gives you five seconds per opportunity to apply unused shots to newly appearing enemy movements. My artillery park paid for themselves not only by reducing the enemy hordes (you get three pre-determined firing points, as opposed to the 10 you get with SP-II), but resisted being overrun by slicing through the T-34s approaching their location.

3 Comments:

  • At 8:23 PM, Anonymous freddyboomboom said…

    Glad you like it...

    I liked the more modern battles you could run in SPII and SPIII, though. The WWII stuff gets kind of old for me, because I don't know enough about the relative srengths of the weapons versus the armor.

    But it's still lots and lots of fun. :)

     
  • At 9:06 PM, Anonymous MKL said…

    Have yall ever tooled around this site:

    http://www.the-underdogs.org/

    Has a rather decent collection of old computer wargames and others available for free download. I got a good laugh seeing games that I've always wanted to play with file sizes under 100kb....

    Thanks for the SP link Freddie.

     
  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Mugwug said…

    Damn, good stuff!

    I specifically went out and bought a used PII 233 laptop to run my collection of old wargames. Steel Panthers, Operational Art of War are the only games it really sees these days.

    Gonna have to try the new versions, thanks!

     

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