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Historyline 1914-1918 logo

Wa ein echter Stratege ist, der wartet seit unserem Preview in der April-Ausgabe sehnsüchtig auf Blue Bytes neuen Geniestreich – immerhin schlägt das Game in die gleiche Kerbe wie der Mega-Hit "Battle Isle"!

Historyline 1914-1918 Daß es sich hier trotz aller Ähnlichkeiten nicht um den offiziellen Nachfolger der Kampfinsel handelt, ist kein Grund zur Traurigkeit: "Battle Isle II" ist gerade in Arbeit, und mit der historischen Version des Spielprinzips läßt sich die Zeit bis zum Verkaufsstart Ende nächsten Jahres astrein überbrücken...

Marschieren wir also frohen Mutes in den Ersten Weltkrieg, wo wir znächst feststelln, daß sich hinsichtlich des Gameplays gegenüber der Guturo-Schlachten nichts Grundsätzliches geändert hat. Einmal mehr dürfen zwei Feldherren vor dem Splitscreen Platz nehmen, wobei abwechselnd der eine Angriffe und Strategien ausknobelt, während der Kontrahent seine Order eingibt. Ausgeführt werden dann sämtliche Befehle gleichzeitig, der Compi berechnet eventuelle Kampfergebnisse und stellt sie in einer Animationssequenz dar. Während 12 der insgesamt 36 Schlachtfelder diesem Duo-Modus vorbehalten sind, dürfen sich Solo-Krieger auf den restlichen 24 austoben. Hüben wie drüben steigt dabei der Schwierigkeitsgad sehr moderat an, stets wird der historisch korrekte Ablauf verbürgt.

Amiga Joker Hit Im Klartext stehen somit vier kämpferische Jahre an, welche sich in Szenarien à zwei Monate aufgliedern. Panzer können aufgrund der real existierenden Geschichte z.B. erst ab 1916 eingesetzt werden; dafür helfen diesmal Pioniertruppen beim Ausheben von Schützengräben. Durch die aus "Battle Isle" bekannte und geradezu sprichwörtlich komfortable Sticksteuerung mit dem Multifunktions-Cursor (wahlweise zieht auch die Maus in den Kampf) hat man derlei Neuerungen blitzartig im Griff und kann sich sorgenfrei an den übrigen Novitäten ergötzen. So sind die kargen Scharmützel von einst nun zu screenfüllenden Animations-Wundern mutiert; Da donnern Flieger über Kanonenstellungen, werden stufenlos vergrößert und drehen elegant wieder ab, sobald sie ihre Bomben los sind – wirklich beeindruckend!

Aber auch das ergreifende Intro und die hübschen Zwischengrafiken samt geschichtlichen Infos sollte man nicht unterschlagen, genau wie die detaillierten Waben-Schlachtfelder optisch nochmal zugelegt haben. Im Vergleich mit der PC-Version sind kaum Unterschiede zur 256-Farben-Grafik auszumachen, die 3D-Sequenzen laufen am Amiga zwar nicht ganz so glatt, aber dafür ein wenig flotter ab. Musik und FX sind gelungen, ein weiteres Lob geht an das Handbuch: Dicke Wälzer findet man allenthalben, doch so viele sorgfältig recherchierte und lesbar aufbereitete Hintergrundinformationen eigentlich nur hier.

Mag also der Unterschied zu "Battle Isle" auch nicht ganz so gewaltig sein, wie sich das der eine oder andere vielleicht erhofft hätte, so ist den Mühlheimern doch erneut ein großer Wurf gelungen. Man darf gespannt sein, was die kommenden Folgen der Historyline noch an Überraschungen bereithalten... (jn/pb)

Amiga Joker, January 1993, p.49

HISTORYLINE
(BLUE BYTE)
SECHSECK - STRATEGIE
86%
"EDEL"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
79%
77%
76%
68%
86%
89%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 99,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB
6/JA
JA
SPIELST./HIGHSC.
KOMPLETT


Historyline 1914-1918 logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

The gross stupidity of trench warfare in the First World War comes under examination in Blue Bytes latest wargame. Steve Prizeman digs in for victory.

Historyline 1914-1918 TACTICAL WITHDRAWAL
The First World War is not usually noted for its strategy – there wasn't any! Hard pressed soldiers facing each other across a devastated No Man's Land only a few hundred yards wide, languishing in mud filled trenches and being slaughtered by the hundred thousand in wave after wave of infantry attacks and artillery barrages are the indelible picture of the war. Could you have conducted it better? That is the enormous challenge posed in this new strategy game from Blue Byte.
Though noted for its static trench warfare, WW1 actually witnessed an enormous amount of innovation in the nature of the weaponry hurled from side to side. Tanks were invented, the standard of aircraft improved greatly as the potential of aerial combat was recognised. German zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers conducted the first air raids against London and south-eastern England, and submarines became deadly predators stalking merchant shipping.

In Historyline, each of the opposing armies receives new equipment as the war progresses. An interval of approximately two months is presumed to have elapsed between each of the 24 battlegrounds, or Maps, upon which the fighting takes place. The green fields and open spaces of the earlier stages, upon which large numbers of cavalry pieces originally appear, are gradually replaced by landscapes scarred with trenches and bunkers whilst cavalry and infantry troops become progressively less effective as the number of tanks, artillery and aeroplanes increases. Although the technological advantage therefore swings back and forth between the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and the Allied Powers (dominated by Britain, France and Russia), this does not mean walkovers occur as a superficially less impressive range of units may still win a battle if deployed with skill.

LOOKS FAMILIAR
In terms of its appearance and the way it is controlled, Historyline follows the format of Battle Isle very closely. One player may fight against an army directed by the computer, or two-players may compete against each other. Players may choose which power bloc they wish to control, represented on-screen by Germany and France. Two maps appear side by side on the screen, each forming part of the larger Map which forms the whole area of the current battlefield. The Map is divided into hexagons into which the players position the units under their command. Pieces are moved, and various instructions accessed, by joystick wiggling, keyboard tapping, or the mouse (my experience is that the joystick undoubtedly represents the easiest of the available control methods, although a little re-setting is required to have two working at once). Movement and action phases alternate between the two players.

The objective is simple enough: each army has a headquarters building on every map, occupy the enemy's and you will win.
Alternatively, just annihilate every unit he controls and a brutal but decisive victory will be yours. The game does not offer the opportunity of re-writing history, however. As its name suggests, Historyline takes the player through a period in the past; each Map represents a fictitious engagement, and though some of the different landscapes and geographical features are based on real battlefields they are not intended to simulate actual battles. Even if the player controlling the Central Powers wins every Map, the Allies will remain victorious in the war as a whole.

Informing players about the causes and conduct of the war is one of the aims of the game. Historyline begins with a brief animation depicting the Western Front in 1916, followed by a smoothly animated sequence showing the assassination of Arch-Duke Frank Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was shot dead by a Bosnian terrorist during a visit to Sarajevo in June 1918 – the event which triggered the war.

During the game, text and illustrations taken from contemporary newspapers appear. They keep players up to date with key events in the course of the real war, and provide nuggets of interesting domestic news from the countries involved – sporting events, for example. Animations are also shown, depicting notable incidents, such as a zeppelin flying above London Bridge during a bombing raid. The animations are drawn well, though with what seems to be a comparatively limited palette, and help the atmosphere of the game.

THE REAL WORLD
The standard of presentation is, overall, very good. Digitised contemporary photographs illustrate the information panels explaining the specifications of each military unit, and battle scenes illustrate each phase of the game in which enemy pieces exchange fire. It has to be said that the standard of background drawing in these sequences is generally superior to that of the sprites superimposed upon them who blast away each other.

The combat itself is not particularly lively to watch and necessitates a large amount of disk swapping if you have only got a hard disk. One of the reasons why the combat looks less bloodthirsty than might have been expected is that Blue Byte, as a German company, developed Historyline to meet the restrictions of the depiction of violence in computer games which exist in that country. Paradoxically, the lack of scenes of carnage lessens the impact of the game, rather than saving it from the accusation of tastelessness that their inclusion might have caused. The WW1-based television comedy series Blackadder Goes Fourth, for example, ended poignantly despite its outrageous and tasteless humour precisely because it never understated the hardship of life in the trenches, or belittled the suffering of the men in them; they went 'over the top' as duty dictated regardless of their desire not to.

The 'long battle' mode may be switched off, however, in favour of the 'short battle' option that doesn't require disk swapping. In the latter, combat takes place swiftly with symbols for the belligerent units simply being placed side by side and those that get destroyed disappearing from the screen. Once you get into the game this is actually more exciting to follow, the battle scenes becoming merely a distraction.
The sound effects are good, and during battle scenes vehicle and weapon noises are clear and appropriate. While players decide their movements and actions on their maps tense music plays in the background; during the introductory sequence the tune is suitably mournful.

Historyline 1914-1918 is an intelligent and enjoyable game of strategy, and represents an interesting development of the genre. It deserves to be a great success.

CU Amiga, February 1993, p.p.60-61

DISCRETION AND VALOUR
For any software company, and especially a German one, to launch a high quality game closely based upon the First World War is a potentially controversial undertaking. The Blue Byte team tackle the issue head-one, explaining the philosophy of the game in the instruction manual. After declaring their opposition to violence and warfare, they state that 'Never before has entertainment software been so consciously designed to present knowledge and facts to the player in a graphic manner'.

In writing the on-screen text to accompany the game, the team avoided any interpretation of the war, relying on bare facts to allow players to decide for themselves where blame lies, and identify the longer-term legacy of the war. As any historian will tell you, of course, even if concentrating on 'bare facts', the choice of which to include and which to omit represents a judgement which can weight interpretation one way or the other – but let's not get into the theory of writing history or we'll be here all day.

One thing which Blue Byte is clear about is that a Historyline dealing with the Second World War will not be produced, The somewhat unpredictable political atmosphere in Germany at the moment makes that just too hot a subject to touch, in their opinion. Further Historyline's dealing with the Roman and Medieval eras are distinct possibilities, however, and even one set in Napoleonatic times may be considered. No doubt any further development will depend upon the success of the current game: constructive criticism regarding its concept and design is invited by the company.

buyers guide
release date:
genre:
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Out Now
Strategy
In-house
K, j&K, M&K
7
1/2
Yes
1Mb
 

BLUE BYTE £34.99
Informative, compelling and playable wargame.
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
84%
83%
93%
92%
OVERALL 89%