Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sabre Team

I always wanted to be Lewis Collins!

Sabre Team was released in 1992 by Krisalis and is a turn-based war zone of hardcore strategy. We're in control of an elite SAS squad who enter the lion's den to kill 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 so a wrong move could end with team members being killed. And dead means dead, there are no second chances in this world.

Okay, the first job is to select a 4-man team from eight of the best warriors. Equip these guys with the right weapons for each mission whilst taking into consideration type, rate of fire, ammo, weight, and noise. There are lots of cool hardware to chose from like machine guns, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, stun grenades, and gas canisters.

Choose your weaponry wisely and specifically for the mission at hand. Remember, some weapons might need a reload after each shot. You're not superman, it's often advisable to wear a bulletproof jacket. I hear there are a limited number of medkits and these will certainly help to recover from injuries.

Think covertly

Yes, there is a lot to consider, so you should put aside any ideas you may have had of arcade-style action. This demands careful, calculative and strategical thinking so your assault should be executed with a stealthy approach that protects your men from danger. For example, don't stand near an open window! The terrain isn't just something nice to look at, use it for cover as the enemy won't know you're there if they cannot see (or hear) you.

The battlefield is viewed isometrically using detailed environments and our soldiers are controlled through the use of action points. This means your men are allowed a specific number of moves before the computer gets a turn. The user interface is excellent and has helpful animations to identify their purpose (just hover the mouse over).

These are used to turn, walk, shoot and do other fun stuff like searching dead bodies. The compass not only controls the soldier's direction but displays the number of action points required for each particular task. Along with alerts for what a soldier might see (red) or hear (blue). And this is exactly how you should play - as if you were there!


Rome wasn't built in a day

Sabre Team provides an incredible insight into the strategy and tactics involved. Running in, guns blazing will only get you and your teammates killed. I think it's perfectly suited to the turn-based genre which works so well. However, waiting 3/4 minutes for the computer to decide what it wants to do is brutal and I hated it.

So here's another tip - press and hold the mouse button to speed up this process. Odd, but it works. However, I feel this quicker method should have been the default instead as I'd have preferred to hold the mouse button when I wanted to watch the computer more closely. Perhaps it's just me but it took me a while to get used to this...

Graphics & Sounds

We begin with a title screen depicting a sinister SAS soldier emerging out of the darkness ready to assassinate terrorists. It's almost like a post-apocalyptic/Who Dares Wins and is so impressive! I think Phil Hackney did a superb job with the in-game graphics with each mission environment uses fine attention to detail.

However, there is some rather dodgy artwork, which I'm sure you have noticed? Thankfully, the game is finely detailed with wonderful precision and I adore how the environments take on a realistic scene without feeling cheap or tacky. Standing at the wrong angle near an open window and you're vulnerable to being picked off.

The sound effects are excellent with samples used to complement the tension of tactical warfare. Their quality is great and I'm excited to see they didn't wimp out by using samples for weaponry, cries, and other effects.

The CryptO'pinion?

Ignoring my quibbles, never have I enjoyed such a game that employs a tremendous demand of tactics, stealth and strategy thinking. It's fantastic and instantly appealing yet also deep with quite a learning curve to master, so don't expect a cakewalk! I'm sure your initial attempts will end with many incredibly laughable casualties as you uncover the joy of what this realistic game has to offer. It's cruel and takes no prisoners but is so addictive.

Sabre Team isn't something to play when you have a few moments to spare. Time, patients and skilful wit are required. So, when you have the time, stick with it because this is an innovative experience with massive attention to detail. Who would have thought that covertly eliminating terrorists would be so satisfying?

What we have here is very rewarding and nothing short of a classic. And I loved every second of it.


8BitChip have a hard drive version with floppy disks via Old Games Finder.
Trusteft has recorded a great video from unboxing to gameplay!

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