Button up for action with Gulf War: Operation Desert Hammer

Gulf War: Operation Desert Hammer
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The army has just finished the first production version of their latest mobile destruction center (better known as a main battle tank), the M12 Hammer, and they have put YOU in the commanders seat!

Where you go from here is completely up to you! The setting is the desert of the Middle East and "It is up to you to finally eliminate the desert dictator and his terrorist army, now known as the Federation of Militant Equal Nationalists (FMEN). Good luck." With these words Gulf War, the latest tank simulation from 3DO and Military Channel, send you off into the fast paced world of the M12 Hammer.

As the commander of the newly christened M12 Hammer main battle tank, you have an array of weapons available for your use. All switchable by a single key keystroke that allows you to cycle through the available munitions and pick the one for the job at hand (shown in the small display in the lower right hand portion of the screen).

Your weapons include:

  • Heat – This is your standard High Explosive rounds are excellent against most mobile targets.
  • SABOT – This is the anti-tank round for those really big enemy armored vehicles.
  • ATGM – Anti-Tank Guided Missiles are effective on a wide variety of target types.
  • AAGM – Anti-Air Guided Missiles are especially for those hard to hit enemy choppers and Jets.

Gulf War utilizes the latest Heads Up Display (HUD) technology which makes the mouse your medium for aiming the big guns of the M12 Hammer. Wherever you point the mouse is where the M12 targets its weapons systems. There are two modes available for controlling your M12 Hammer.

  1. Basic control has the M12 move in the direction of the mouse cross hairs with you controlling the forward or reward motion via the up and down arrow keys of the keypad.
  2. Advanced Tank Control (switchable by a stroke of a key) which separates the turret movement from the tank movement. In this mode the turret will follow your mouse cross hairs while the tank is fully controllable with the four arrows on the keyboard. You now control the forward, backward and turning of the M12 while the mouse still controls where the turret aims the M12’s weapons systems.

Be careful here; I went immediately to the advanced tank control, basically thinking I would have little trouble handling the M12 this way, and ended up in some very strange positions requiring me to revert back to basic control to get myself out of. After some practice, though, I was able to run under advanced tank control, which was much more of a blast than the basic control!

In addition to the four weapon systems described above, you also have a limited number of ‘strike’ missions available (the small display in the lower left portion of the screen.) This also comes in multiple varieties:

  • Jet Fighter-Bomber – These are called in against enemy mobile units you target. They fire their missiles and leave the area.
  • Choppers – These guys will pop up from where they are hiding to attack selected enemy mobile units. Really effective against enemy choppers.
  • FAM – Fuel-Air-Munitions are air dropped via parachute from stealth aircraft to explode just over the designated target and destroy nonmobile targets selected.
  • LRS – Multiple Launch Rocket System – The ultimate system for pounding a wide area of buildings or other nonmobile targets.

The best part of this is that the type of strike is determined automatically based on the type of target you have selected for the strike!

The targeting system for the M12 Hammer, as has been stated before, is under control of the mouse. A ‘targeting reticle’ is moved around the playing area by the mouse and changes based on the ability of the M12 to hit what it is pointing at. A light blue indicates that there is no target or that the target is a ‘friendly’. Yellow indicates a target that can be hit by a strike mission but not direct fire from your Hammer. Red indicates an enemy target that can be hit with either the Hammer’s weapons systems or by a strike mission; the choice is yours.

The screen itself displays a myriad of information for you. The small insert screen in the upper right hand corner is a wide area scan of nearby targets as well as depictions of your ‘Oasis" (armor repair station for the Hammer) in the form of a green palm tree and mission goal areas, depicted by orange strike markers. Of course, enemy targets are shown by various red icons depending on the type of target it is (arrows for mobile units and squares for buildings). Lastly, there is the armor status line along the middle of the bottom of the screen. When that gets too low you either have to head back to your Oasis for repair, or find one of the M12 Hammer ‘Power ups’ (Ammunition, Strikes, Armor) available in various areas of the mission, usually in buildings or in enemy supply vehicles.

Enough on the control and display systems, it is time to enter the world of Gulf War. The premise is that a certain middle eastern dictator has raised his ugly head again attacking all western military and commercial targets in a surprise attack. Your mission is to complete the job that was started with Operation Desert Storm and eliminate this dictator once and for all!

The game consists of eighteen scenarios culminating in the elimination of the hated dictator. You can not save once in the missions, but can save and replay at the end of each scenario. But the game only starts here. You also have the option to play over a local area network (LAN) or via the Internet (using heat.net or mplayer.com) with up to eight other players on eighteen different terrain settings for almost unlimited variety of play. The game ran smoothly, even though I was running on a near minimum configuration machine, and control was smooth as well (no choppy turns or delayed reactions to the mouse or arrow keys.) A solid 3 1/2 GiN GEMs for this one!

If you are interested in tank simulations and like an easy to control game system that puts its emphasis on tactical control, then this is the game for you.

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