Admiral Graf Spee is a sea battle simulation set in the early days of the Second World War. The Graf Spee, of course, was the German pocket battleship which became famous when the British cornered her in Montevedeo after the Battle of the River Plate. The action of the game takes place before this, when she roved the Atlantic, sinking shipping almost at will.
THIS IS WHAT YOU DO
You are presented with a map showing land on either side and sea in the middle.
The map shows your position (the Graf Spee), and the position of enemy shipping. It does not tell you whether these blips are armed or unarmed ships. To the right of the map you are given a display indicating your speed, fuel in tons, heading, amount of shells and torpedoes left, and your present position.
You can now plot your course to the nearest enemy by the compass rose set into the map by using keys 1-8 (1 being NW, 2 being N and so on round to 8 being W). The map then shows your movement at the 18 knots present. Once in the vicinity of your enemy you press Search, whereupon the map screen changes to a view of the sea, and the display also indicates the target's distance in yards. You must now hunt around, following the enemy ship's position until she hoves into view.
Command inputs are done by a finicky menu: fire torpedoes, fire guns, turn ship, decrease speed, increase speed. Successfully bringing the enemy into view results in his smoke appearing over the horizon, followed by the stacks superstructure and finally the hull. As soon as you are within range you may fire either guns or use torpedoes.
If the enemy turns out to be armed, he will begin firing as soon as you are within his range. You can see the gun flashes on the screen followed by the water splashes for near misses.
The whole screen flashes if you take a hit, and the percentage of damage done is shown at the base of the screen.
Depending on the level of play chosen, there are more or less heavily armed ships to fight against.
It seems a pity this program couldn't have been written in machine code, which might have resulted in more sophisticated graphics and a better response speed.
There was some disagreement between our reviewers, one of whom thought the graphics were poor, another considered them to be fine.
The water splashes are very blocky, as are the ship silhouttes. But the two most serious problems with the program are ones of playing.
Firstly, no warship ever comes to a halt unless it is absolutely forced by circumstances. Yet in Graf Spee you must bring the ship to a standstill in order to succesfully fire at and hit an enemy. When we started playing, the first two enemy ships seemed to keep darting about like gadflies, and we were unable to keep them in sight for the time it took to input the new direction. Slowing down seemed to make life slightly easier, but only stopping forward movement altogether made it possible to keep the ship in sight long enough to go through the lengthy menu to fire the guns.
The second quibble is that if the enemy ships begin firing, there is nothing you can do until he breaks off for a moment. You must be ready to punch the menu input required, and then the particular commands required, which mean slowing down, turning the ship, selecting guns or torps and firing. In between each gap the enemy may start firing again and you must sit there and be hammered until another break occurs.
Keyboard positions: Complex, but good instructions
Joystick options: none
Keyboard play: slowish
Use of colour: average
Skill levels: seven
Lives: you can sustain up to 99% damage - then it's kaput!
'The keyboard play was quite slow to respond, and when the game speeds up in an attack, there are many keys to use.'
'Not unlike a naval Star Trek game, so anyone who likes those will probably find this enjoyable. Given the limitations of memory and the basic program, the graphics are reasonably imaginative and effective.'
'There are some good tunes in this game, and the whole would be better if good graphics were used and perhaps some machine code. But it's quite playable.'
|Use of Computer||45%|
|Value For Money||60%|
Producer: Temptation, 48K £5.95 (1)
Author: Simon Mansfield
Set in the South Atlantic during the Second World War, this game recreates the actions of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. The aim is to sink allied merchant shipping and survive attacks by allied battleships. 2 screens provide you, as Captain, with a sea map of the Atlantic and indicate your position and that of enemy shipping. You can direct your ship towards the enemy, and when close enough, change to a sea level view ready to engage with either guns or torpedoes instruments show you your speed, heading, enemy position and distance in yards. On sighting the enemy, his ship appears gradually above the horizon. If armed, it begins firing back. A serious drawback is that to keep the enemy in your gun sights you actually have to come to a stop - not very realistic. The option menu for controlling your ship is also extremely finicky. Average block character graphics, good sound and use of colour, 7 skill levels. Okay for its type. Overall CRASH rating 54%. BASIC,
Producer: Temptation, 48K £5.95 (1)
Author: Simon Mansfield
Set in the South Atlantic during the Second World War, this game recreates the actions of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. The aim is to sink allied merchant shipping and survive attacks by allied battleships. 2 screens provide you, as Captain, with a sea map of the Atlantic and indicate your position and that of enemy shipping. You can direct your ship towards the enemy, and when close enough, change to a sea level view ready to engage with either guns or torpedoes instruments show you your speed, heading, enemy position and distance in yards. On sighting the enemy, his ship appears gradually above the horizon. If armed, it begins firing back. A serious drawback is that to keep the enemy in your gun sights you actually have to come to a stop - not very realistic. The option menu for controlling your ship is also extremely finicky. Average block character graphics, good sound and use of colour, 7 skill levels. Okay for its type. Overall CRASH rating 54%. BASIC.
LOAD! LOAD! LOAD!
MAKER: Temptation Software
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
Funny how life imitates Art. Just as the US Navy put the giant World War II battlewagon New Jersey back in commission and sent it to lurk menacingly off the coast of Lebanon, several software companies obviously decided that there's mileage in resuscitating this obsolescent - but fascinating - form of naval warfare, where gun-armed ironclads seek each other out on the high seas and, having found each other, do their best to blow their opponents out of the water.
Both MC Lothlorien [Dreadnoughts] and new Rye-based company Temptation (Admiral Graf Spee) have elected to simulate actual eras of battleship warfare. The first goes for that most fascinating of epochs, the 1914-18 war, when mighty fleets hunted each other over the wintry North Sea. Temptation's offering reproduces the last cruise of the pocket battleship Graf Spee. Both have 'search' modes, with Dreadnoughts allocating you a pre-set plotline and Graf Spee allowing you to hunt the oceans rather like the Thorn-EMI game Submarine Commander. Of the two, the Lothiorien search mode is the more realistic, since it exactly reproduces the confusion and poor visibility for which that era of naval warfare was noted. However, Dreadnoughts is fairly dull to look at consisting essentially of menus and - I have to say it - spreadsheets, whereby you alter individual vessels' speed and heading.
Dreadnoughts eventually gives you a 'look-down' (Zeppelin?) view, whereas the Temps opt tor a bridge view. Combat sequences therefore are tokenised on Dreadnoughts and - because of the BASIC programming - tacky and wooden on Graf Spee. The best thing about either game is the capability of Dreadnoughts to allow two players to alternate on the same console, so that what each player sees (the other guy politely staring at the wall meantime) is exactly what the admiral would see.
Of the two, Dreadnoughts is the more authentic overall and more visually boring; while Graf Spee is precisely the other way around. Neither address the contemporary problem of range-finding in any way. Overall, I feel the ultimate naval war-game has yet to come.
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