think my editor made a mistake when he sent me this game. He sent it to Brooklyn, N.Y. when he should have sent it to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The game I received is easily one of the most realistic war games that I’ve ever played!
Brigade Combat Team (BCT) is a combined arms warfare simulation. You control a variety of units on the battlefield, ranging from helicopters, tanks, infantry, artillery to air defense, engineers and re-supply vehicles. The game reminds me a little of Three-Sixty’s Patriot, or what Patriot should’ve been. BCT is a real time game that gives the player the ability to pause the clock while issuing orders. You can play on a variety of maps ranging from the Mojave Desert to Kuwait to North Korea. Anything that you can do on a real battlefield, you can do in this game. You can give many different orders to your units ranging from laying mines to artillery barrages, to clearing obstacles to calling in air strikes.
As a Brigade Commander you basically set up the initial orders for your troops, and they’ll figure out the best way to follow your commands. If you don’t like what you see, you can change your orders on the fly. There is no “fog of war” in terms of terrain so to speak. You know exactly where you are and what you have to do. The only limitation is that you still have to search out enemy forces using your available resources. You’ll have to rely on your scouts and various radar systems in order to find your enemies.
Shrapnel Games has left in the game what I call the “moral factor”. In other words, you get to decide what ordnance to use. Want to use tactical nukes, no problem. Want to be like Saddam and call in a chemical strike, it’s your call. If you’re on of those sneaky battlefield commanders who want to insert paratroopers behind the enemies rear flank, it’s all up to you. Though the enemy AI is equally as cunning, the game recommends you play at the Veteran level, but I suggest that you play with the enemy AI set to beginner. They will use realistic battlefield tactics as well. I haven’t witnessed the computer cheating either.
Casual gamers should beware though, even though the game is designed with the beginner in mind, this is definitely a grognard’s game (I haven’t heard that term in a while). With an excellent 118 page manual, that takes great pains in describing the game in exacting detail, the game can still be a bit overwhelming. The manual is broken down into several parts, designed to ease you into the game comfortably. It also includes an in-depth tutorial, which takes you through an entire mission. The only downside with the manual, is that it’s very hard to see the details in some of the instructional b&w screenshots. The bottom line is, if you feel at home with Talonsoft’s “The Art of War” series, you should feel comfortable with BCT. The game is nothing to write home about as far as the graphics and sound goes, but it does an adequate job of portraying a tactical battlefield. Actually, the sounds and graphics are quite minimal.
On the tactical map, you can choose whether to use standard military/NATO icons or the more familiar graphical representation of units. You get some basic battlefield sounds, but you don’t know where it’s always coming from. You have the option of seeing craters and damaged vehicles on the battlefield, but for the younger more trigger finger types, it may not be enough to float your boat. Gamers should understand that this is not a “Red Alert” or a “Combat Mission” game. Any such similarities will surely come from your imagination. You do not see units move in real time, like in “Empire Earth”. This game is highly detailed, and the set-up phase before the action begins, takes up a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience to play this game. Let me give you an example of a typical set-up.
? Moving objects
? Grouping units into task forces
? Planning paths for units
? Mounting and dismounting units
? Deploying mines
? Planning fire missions
? Breaching obstacles
? Laying smoke
? Setting up logistics and supply lines
? Using Radar to find enemy units
? Close Air Support
There’s more, but I think you get the gist of it. Once all of that is done, then you can start the clock and watch your platoon commanders take over. Don’t think about cutting corners, because the enemy commanders will be doing the same.
In terms of gameplay, the manual states the game ships with eleven scenarios, but an in-game count shows over 40. They contain scenarios ranging from small Ranger sized engagements to large multi-division sized conflicts. There are no less than 15 different units for each side, each side meaning Western and Eastern. I have no doubt that the unit count in-game is much higher as well. There are some unit mistakes you have to watch out for, like the dreaded “F-16 Tomcat”. Other than that, you don’t have too much to worry about. BCT does ship with a mission/scenario editor, but I didn’t see a way to create maps. There are plenty of documents to support the editor, but it looks imposing. I for one will probably not tackle it anytime soon. I’ll leave that to the modders, it should however provide a wealth of re-playability. It does however have multiplayer support. You can play on the Internet or play over a Network, using a LAN, modem or serial modem set-up.
I wish I could go on describing the game in exact detail, but the game is so deep, it would definitely take up more space than we have bandwidth for. If you are looking for a realistic military simulation, than look no further. You have found it. If you’re into RTS games, this one may not be for you. I do know that I would be more comfortable with our Military leaders using this game for the purposes of training our troops, as opposed to “Delta Force”!