Steel Beasts Pro
Personal Edition
March 12, 2006

By Marcel ďSkybirdď Hoell

Page 7: Game Logic


The game logic very much depends on mission design and additionally implements individual vehicle management.

The designer of the mission will have set up a (hopefully) good battle plan for OpFor. Usually the plan for Blue is left to you. The way you make use of the information in the briefing and use the mission planning screen and its path planning options and conditional variables affects how your force will react to the presence or non-presence of the enemy and the way the unfolding battle is developing. You can set up static defenses. You can try hesitant needle-attacks or massive, concentrated counter-attacks. You can try stubborn head-on-attacks, or flanking maneuver, or hiding moves. It is up to you. But it also is you who will have to face the consequences of your decisions.

While you usually command the tank you are riding with, the single vehicle in your group is not commanded precisely into exact positions, instead when it reaches the area of the battle position for your group, each vehicle will search independently for a good position where it is well-concealed, hull-down, and facing threats with itís frontal armor, if possible. For that it will maneuver up to 100-200 meters in the vicinity. Prepared dug-in pits will be recognized by the AI. It will also constantly change itís exact position in reaction to enemyís movement, sometimes more, sometimes less Ė it depends on the enemy, but it never exposes itís vulnerable flank or rear in these movements, >if possible<. So you order the general movement and behavior, but the single units will act autonomously when it comes to searching hull-down positions, evading enemy artillery fire (if you allow them to evade), maneuvering in your vicinity to find best position, and so on. In battle they will constantly move back and forth, to pop up, let loose a shot, and disappear again while their cannons are reloaded, they will try to prevent being outflanked or expose their vulnerable sides and rears to the enemy. There is no static to be seen. Forget the old "M1 Tank Platoon" by MicroProse, this is the real deal.

However, one of the rare and small setbacks that need to be mentioned is with regard to tanks in battle positions that are in very close vicinity of natural obstacles like (especially) huge rocks. During fighting in desert scenarios I repeatedly saw a tank in such state being blocked by the obstacle, eventually refusing to face the enemy with his front, when the obstacle prevented that movement, or refusing to move back if the obstacles were behind him. In that case the tank constantly moves back and fourth by less than half a meter, trying to pass through the obstacle. Where during route traveling tanks are able to evade and go around obstacles, they seem to have some problems when trying that while being engaged in a battle position.

During overland travel, units under AI control (both Blue and Red) will follow roads if they are in column formation and have no dedicated scout or breaching-orders, and if the orientation of the road is not more than 30į off the direction to the next waypoint.

In general the AI of the game works very well and acts in a believable fashion. Vehicle management works fine and the simís management and monitoring of your plan that you ordered your force to follow is reliable and neutral, it does not cheat in favor of the computerís side. Since the missions are set up by human mission designers and the mission editor allows them diverse, random setups of starting conditions, you must even expect to be surprised by non-welcomed moves you would not expect to see from a computer-controlled AI.

I never saw something like vehicles getting stuck in trees or in geographical features that are expected to be passable. Rivers seem to be considered as impassable, no matter how small or wide they are, so you need bridges or bridge-layers for them. You can "intentionally" get your own tank stuck, if you order it to climb a too steep edge, for example. You better not do that. Vehicle management by the AI will avoid this to take place, I never witnessed "accidents" like this taking place. Vegetation will damage vehicles, however, if they use improper driving styles and high speeds in, for example, forest or rough terrain.

Next: Page 8: Gameplay


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 ******  

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