COMBATSIM.COM: The Ultimate Combat Simulation and Strategy Gamers' Resource.
by Maurice Fitzgerald  

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, the volunteer paratroopers of the 101st Airborne were handed one of the toughest assignments of World War II – to parachute behind enemy lines, at night, before the morning invasion known as D-Day.  This Fall, Empire Interactive and Interactive Simulations, Inc. will transport gamers back in time to that fateful eve to lead a squad of 18 paratroopers behind enemy lines in 101: The 101st Airborne in Normandy.  

A realistic turn-based strategy simulation, 101 challenges gamers to recreate the famous D-Day landings by forming unique squadrons and employing infantry-style tactics in order to complete a series of missions.   


After doing my initial first look I’ve been able to get my hands on a beta of this one and I like what I’ve seen so far. Gameplay is pretty involved and will excite those turn-based grognards out there, as there’s plenty you can do with each individual soldier. You can also issue commands to move your entire unit, so you won’t be stuck in micro-management drudgery all day long.

In this game you'll command 18 paratroopers from the famed 101st Airborne's "Screaming Eagles" through their tour in the D-Day Normandy campaign. From what I saw of the demo at E3  I was impressed with the promise this title held for fans of WWII turn based strat games.   

Heavily researching their information, ISI and Empire have been forging ahead to bring some serious depth and different strategic aspects to this game.  With more than 1700 soldier animations and 40 different 3D cut scenes, this one should have plenty of eye pleasing touches to complement some very solid gameplay. 

Not only will you do your standard "go here destroy this" type of mission, but you will also be faced with a varity of other command situations. This is what interests me the most, not only can I command of troops in battle but facing a variety of other problems in the battle setting will be a new experience. 


What kind of new experiences? New experiences such as parachuting into hot LZ’s, being separated from your squad and equipment, running out of ammo and even being lost .. and feeding your troops! These are some great new ideas and I am looking forward to seeing how well this is handled in gameplay. It adds a much-needed dimension to the strat game genre. 

You’ll leave the ground with all 18 troopers, but you may not land with all of them. To be honest you’ll probably only rarely land with all 18 healthy, intact and in the proper drop zone. One of the greatest perils of the paratroopers in WWII was becoming lost from your unit while dropping, as well as injuries and even death from chute malfunctions. 101st Airborne in Normandy looks like it’s going to capture that pretty well and force you as commander to learn how to deal with Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law fame as real life commanders do. Not only will you lose troops but valuable and important items such as food, water, ammo and weapons! It’s up to you to not only carry out your mission but to look out for the welfare of your troops.
Using initiative based action the game will play almost like an RTS game but without the click happy style of real-time. There are nine different engagements per campaign, with randomized campaigns to increase replay value. We will have 48 paratroopers to choose from, each with his own identity and abilities, graded on 13 combat values. Add to this 238 maps and you have a lot of stuff to play through again and again. I like the sound and look of this one.  
The main interface (where you will start) is a backdrop of an Army base. From here you can click on the places you wish to visit- very similar to the Wing Commander flight deck. You can visit the HQ and review your mission briefing, go to the Quartermasters building, the armory, enlisted and officers barracks and the assembly area for final loadout. Each building is nicely shown on the inside as it must have been in WWII, replete with weapons lockers, clothing and equipment racks etc. 

Click to continue . . . 



The first thing you’ll want to do is choose your men from the ranks of enlisted and officers by visiting their respective barracks. In the barracks you will be greeted by a scene straight out of those WWII movies like Stalag 17, with troopers lounging around smoking and joking. Click on a trooper on his bunk and you will be shown his vital stats including a bio. 

Some of these bio’s are actually pretty clever and entertaining in and of themselves. For example there’s Frank “Cowboy” Barnes from Sweetwater, Texas. He’s such a cowboy he even keeps a picture of his horse in his wallet! The pictures of the troopers are equally entertaining as well. There’s even one character, Arnold T. Frederick, who has an uncanny resemblance to the actor Tom Cruise. Little touches like this will make what some people may feel to be a rather mundane task, picking and outfitting your people, a rather fun experience.  

Once you’ve chosen your “stick” of 18 troopers it’s time to get them outfitted, so you move right on over to the quartermasters office and armory. Moving around and choosing your gear is easily done by choosing  “standard issue”, or you can micromanage your choices individually. 


Once done you move to the assembly area and ready your troops for movement, then depart to the operational area. From here the demo I saw ran similar to Close Combat with the over head perspective, and the graphics, while not ground breaking, were pretty nice. The first thing I noticed that attracted me to the graphics was the starkness of it all, not the more cartoony and bright look that Soldiers At War had. This one has a certain dark mood that seems to permeat throughout all screens and gameplay, giving the gamer a more warlike feel. 

When your troops are ready and loaded out, you then move to the airfield and assign them seating, once ready it’s time to take off. You’re then shown a series of all 18 para’s jumping, as each individual trooper jumps you’re immediately shown whether he lands safely or dies of asphalt poisoning. (you can easily skip the animations by hitting Escape) Once all the jumps are completed you are shown a summary screen of  the status of each and every soldier. Then it’s into the game you go and the turn based element begins, first action you will always do is order each man to remove his chute. Once that’s done you can move them individually or as a whole. 

The command interface is very easy to use and is brought up on the screen by a simple right click of the mouse. From this command interface you can do everything you’ll need to do, remove chutes, team movement, order a rest, ready your weapons, apply first aid, look, snap fire, aimed fire etc etc. Movement is done with your movement allowances shown on screen as dots fanning out from your current position, based on the movement style you've chosen. If you're visible to an enemy these dots change to eye icons, very easy way to determine if you're in danger of being shot at. 

The FOW looks to be pretty good as LOS plays a major part in completing your objectives and in fighting the enemy. You will not find maps here with enemy icons shown unless you really do see them, I really like that in a game. All in all it looks promising and I can't wait to get the final and review it!

For a nice little video of the game go here

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Last Updated September 16th, 1998 

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