Steel Beasts Pro
Personal Edition
March 12, 2006

SUBSIM Radio Room Forums

By Marcel “Skybird“ Hoell

The Beauty and The Steel Beast

Once upon a time in the summer of 2005, in the general section of the fine, decent forums of ...

Skybird: “I will get the SBP version as soon as possible and plan to write a complete review of it, if Neal allows me to place it here.“
Uncle Neal: “You bet, we could feature it at, thanks.“
Skybird: “Now, I take that as an impacting No, I guess.“
Uncle Neal: “No, it's a yes. Yes, it is. Don't make this complicated again! :88) “
Dust: “ :rotfl: :rotfl: rotfl: “ (keeps on rolling and rolling on and forever etc. etc.)
Skybird: “Sorry :lol: :lol: I did not understand that phrasing. Okay, I do it once the time (the sim) has come. Will make sure my English is better in that report, then.“

Well, the time has come indeed - let’s hope that I was successful.

Since Falcon 4 no other game has motivated me again to test it as systematically as this Beast did, even not back then when I did the petition thing with Sub Command. And the Steal Beasts comes out of it as triumphant victor. To sum up my conclusions in advance and in three short phrases: 1. all in all it is fantastic, 2. it is destined to become a classic, 3. it is a must-have for any military sim-enthusiast with even a minor interest in mechanized land warfare.

About me: I have no military background so I cannot judge this software from a professional’s perspective. I do not have special background knowledge but I have read and learned a bit more about tanks and land tactics than most civilians usually, that makes me an interested outsider with at least a general overview on the basics of mechanized warfare. I see it from a simulation-fan’s perspective, so where I lack a soldier’s professional knowledge, I try to make reasonable guesses when referring to "reality". I am aware that the usual game market is not the targeted audience of this release. I have no formal connection with the developer eSim, or with the dedicated community of SB, I am just a regular forum member there since SB Gold was released. A rough estimation would be that I spend 65-70 hours with the sim, in a very intense day-and-night-testing and playing for almost one week. It was real work. I’m glad it’s over so that now I can actually start to enjoy this sim.


The wait has been a long one and several delays were experienced but finally what must be one of the finest and most sophisticated, closest-to-reality military simulations that ever hit the public market is available: Steel Beasts Pro, Personal Edition (from now on simply called SBP). By design it started not as a game being developed with the game market in mind but as a training simulation for the military (which you easily see in it’s somewhat Spartan presentation, compared to traditional game releases). Currently the software is in use with the military of Denmark, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands. It is a tactical maneuver trainer for mechanized warfare on platoon, company, and battalion-level, putting a focus on manually fighting from a commander’s or gunner’s position in a MBT -- but no more exclusively so. The version for the military also serves as a tank gunnery trainer, which is not realized to that extent in the PE version, due to the lacking hardware (replicas of the gunner’s control grips cost about 1000 $US).

In the beginning, SBP never was meant for public release. It was a tank tactics and shooting simulation for the military exclusively and the military’s demands decided the design and content of the program. These constantly added demands are also the main reason why the sim, once it was decided to make it available for the interested customer outside the military as well, got delayed several times, for it’s content was constantly beefed up. The Danish army, having been the first getting the software, received just a single version of the Leo1 as the simulation’s only playable platform, and all in all that was it. Later customers had more complex demands for more vehicles and systems being available. And so the software grew and grew in content, options and size. This is not really a game, this is a simulated reality. The reality that is used in several Western tank army’s crew training courses and that now is available to you without much censorship, without many cuts and losses. The main things that were left out in the Personal Edition are instruction and training interfaces that enable a training instructor to influence the simulation from outside in order to present the trainees with situations and events from the instructor’s training panel. Also the battle areas are not as huge in size as in the software that got delivered to the military and multiplayer is also limited to fewer players. They still want to sell the more expensive version to the military, you see… But the vehicle park, physics, weapons, armor, sensors, AI and planning tool are all the same, while unit formation and behavior is effected by the scenario designers and/or the player when in-game. As I understand it, it’s the same heart and core the real guys are playing with.

SBP is >NOT< the long awaited Steel Beasts 2. That has been delayed again until probably not before 2008. SBP was released because the developer did not have the heart to let us wait for that long anymore. Seen that way it is a compromise. But if you prematurely think of compromise as something bad – you better think twice. STEEL BEASTS PRO ROCKS, and may I say: very heavily so. This beast is a killer show you won’t forget once you got into the gameplay and within it’s domain it is second to none. For tankers and general enthusiasts of military quality simulations SBP is an unavoidable must-buy.

The delay of SB2 is not a loss for the die-hard enthusiasts, for it seems to be that this current SBP in the end will even be more complex than SB2. It includes vehicles that at least during summer 2005 were not planned to be used in SB2 and additional stuff that is considered to be not interesting enough to be included in a game for the wide market. So the simulation of higher complexity and realism probably will be SB Pro, while SB2 will come as a package with adjustments and lesser sharp edges to make it more accessible for the casual gamer and probably slightly improved graphics. The Pro Edition is more tweaked towards hardcore "simulation", SB2 will be more fine-tuned towards "game" (still very simulation-heavy). A majority of the die-hard SB community until summer 2005 seem to expect SB Pro to become the standard for MP in the future, not SB2, but that perception is my personal impression only. Whether the two versions will be fully compatible is not sure but not likely at the moment. The developer hasn’t said anything final yet about to what degree SB2 and SBP missions will be compatible.

The military customers also are the reason why the sim currently is the way it is. The design was oriented to demands for a training tool for professional tank crews to practice shooting, certain tank operation procedures, and small and medium sized armored formation tactics and team cooperation. In brief: it is a SIMULATOR for serious training. So it is the functionality where this software does shine, not so much the roundness of the package and the interface appearance. While mission gameplay is a first class experience, the presentation between missions is Spartan, sober, and functional. Not much has changed in the screen designs and layouts since SB1 but many details being known from the predecessor are done a little bit better, and additional options had been added. And on the other hand: what you definitely need - is there, you are unlikely to miss something essential, if you know SB1 you will feel at home immediately.

One thing also shouldn’t be hidden: due to the constant flow of new demands the developer was fed with by it’s military customers, SBP is something like a constant work in progress, and while this means that things were introduced in this current release version that were not expected. It also means that some things will be added later, via free add-ons, namely weather, and day-and-night-cycles. Right now the visibility range can only be manipulated by mission designers directly, not via implementing different (graphical representations) for weather like rain or fog. But it is coming, free, and guaranteed. The developer indicated in the past that the improvements planned for the graphics for SB2 also will find their way into SBP.

Three remarks from members of the developer:

"It’s fully up to each person to decide for himself, if SB Pro PE is worthy of paying for. What we're doing, is allowing general people the possibility to buy a military training tool, which is the reason for its high pricing. Also, if you decide to buy SB Pro PE, keep in mind that its a construction site, with potential for updates all over. New vehicles and features will be added at least once a month, and when these new features are as bug free as the beta test team can make it, we'll make this new version available for customer download. Think of it as a full package with free add-ons. " (Dejawolf)

"In the case of SB Pro PE, we neither expect to sell it by millions, nor was it designed for entertainment purposes. If you're expecting a GAME, then DO NOT BUY SB PRO PE. " (Ssnake, technical director eSim)

"Steel Beasts Pro PE is very mature software. Unlike normal games however, continuous evolutionary development and a much longer product lifetime with support and upgrades is part of the concept. As we are adding features for army customers, we will be making them available in the Personal Edition as well. "(Ssnake, technical director eSim)

Next: Page 2: Opening Shots

Tank Sim and game Players List

System Requirements (Recommended specs are in parentheses.): 1.5 (2.5) GHz CPU; 256 (512) MB RAM; 64 (128) MB, DirectX9-Capable Graphics Accelerator (GeForce 3 class or better); 1.6 GB available hard disk space; Free USB port; Mouse; CD-ROM; Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP with Service Pack 2 installed. (Steel Beasts will NOT run on Windows NT.); Microsoft DirectX version 9.0 (or better) installed; For better playing experience, a sound card and joystick are recommended.

****** Updated regularly ******  

Want to know when patches are available?
Want to be informed of the latest breaking Steel Beasts news?
Sign up for the Tanksim Newsletter!

Copyright © 2006

            All content is ©  2000-2009 by; All rights reserved by Tanksim  &
   is a subsidiary of the World Sim Network. Staff info: About
            For problems or questions regarding this web contact e-mailLegal Notice Privacy Policy

Tank Sim and game Players List