Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sabre Team

Sabre Team was released in 1992 by Krisalis and is a turn-based isometric war zone of pure hardcore strategy. I first featured this game back in July simply because of its incredible pixel art which I suggest you take a look at. Why? Because it's ace and freaky!

In control of an elite SAS squad, we enter the lion's den to kill all the bad guys, rescue hostages and save the day. This ain't no fake arcade action affair but instead, tries to be realistic thus requires stealth and tactical thought. One wrong move could end with team members being killed and there are no second chances!

Firstly, we need to select a 4-man team from eight of the best warriors. Equip them with the right weapons for each mission whilst taking into consideration their type, rate of fire, ammo, weight, and even noise. The range is superb with lots of fun hardware: machine guns, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, stun grenades, and gas canisters. However, some weapons may need a reload action after each shot... Also, it might be advisable to wear a bulletproof jacket and I hear there are a limited number of medkits which certainly helps for a faster recovery when suffering an injury.

It's now that you should put aside any ideas you may have had of quick arcade-style action for one of careful, calculative and strategical thinking. Your assault should be executed with a stealthy approach to protect your men from potential dangers, such as standing near an open window! The terrain isn't just something nice to look and can be used for cover, the enemy won't know you're there if they cannot see or hear you. Slow and steady wins this race.

The battlefield is viewed isometrically with gorgeously detailed environments and our soldiers are controlled through the use of action points which means each of your men are allowed a specific number of possible moves before the computer gets its turn. This is performed using a superb user interface stuffed with lots of cool animated icons which help to identify their purpose (just hover your mouse over them). They offer the basic options to turn, walk, shoot and fun stuff like searching dead bodies! The compass not only controls the soldier's direction but will display the number of action points required for each particular task along with alerts for what a soldier might see (red) or hear (blue).

                            

Sadly, I'm most perplexed by the time it takes for the computer to calculate its move during the 'Enemy Turn Screen'. Perhaps I'm missing the point but waiting around 3 minutes seems like overkill to me? Sure, it's relevant when an enemy takes a pop shot at one of my soldiers but I really don't want to watch a hostage wander around his cell. Thankfully, the agony can be "eased" by constantly holding down the mouse button. It's a backwards idea and the whole process still takes over a minute!! So... all that time... with your finger on the mouse button... waiting...

Ignoring my quibbles, never have I enjoyed such a tactical game of stealth and careful strategy. Don't expect a cakewalk, I'm sure your first attempts will end in casualties without ever coming close to rescuing all of the hostages. Stick with it because this is an innovative experience with massive attention to detail and very rewarding. Covertly eliminating terrorist scumbags is always extremely satisfying and Sabre Team is nothing short of a classic.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable game and floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder.
 - Trusteft has recorded an incredible video from unboxing to gameplay!