Advanced Squad Leader
Pen and Paper meets the Mouse
Advanced Squad Leader is based on the pen and paper game
of the same name, produced by the legendary Avalon Hill. Based around squad level tactical combat in World War 2, Advanced Squad Leader is full of subtle complexities and nuances that the real hardcore desktop gamers loved. Now that Avalon Hill has been brought in under the Hasbro name, the time was ripe for a conversion over to the PC platform. Naturally, the game has been made into a turn based strategy that (hooray!) very closely resembles the classic X-Com series. One thing that was made clear to us is that the game won't be a direct rule for rule port of the pen and paper game. Advanced Squad Leader the computer game is meant to be more "accessible," but from what we see there will be plenty of complexity to keep even the biggest turn based strategy fans happy.
One thing that sets Advanced Squad Leader apart from a game like X-Com is the inclusion of specific troop classes. You're in command of an entire squad of troops in the European Theater, so in any given mission you might be controlling regular riflemen, engineers, a mortar team, a heavy weapons team, snipers, etc. Each of these members is trained specifically for their task. For instance, a mortar team might have five men total, with three men controlling the mortar: one to aim it, one to load the mortar, and one to hand the ammo to the loader from the ammo crate. There are also two companion riflemen who are trained to use the mortar. If any of the three operators get killed, your mortar's efficiency would obviously be compromised. You could then use one of the companion riflemen to take over for the killed soldier, but you wouldn't be able to just transfer one of your snipers to the job because they're not trained in using the mortar! Likewise, you couldn't just expect a regular soldier to know how to use bangalores (charges that clear barbed wire) because only engineers are trained for it.
Soldiers are people too
As squad commander, you need to pay close attention to your troops and get to know them. Their in game biographies can give you a clue as to their hidden talents. For instance, a farm boy might have experience driving a tractor - this could make him a natural as a tank driver (yes, you will be able to use vehicles in Advanced Squad Leader). The kid who spent years hunting in the woods near his home might make the perfect sniper for your squad. It doesn't stop with the biographies though - monitoring your soldiers is an ongoing process because they get mail from home as your campaigns go on. The soldier who gets a "Dear John" letter from his sweetheart might be too depressed to fight. Or maybe he'll turn into a hero! The man who gets the congratulatory letter saying he hit the lottery will probably be less willing to put himself in the line of fire.
There will be three campaigns with 10 canned missions and a few random missions each. The campaigns are based on true historical scenarios including the Normandy landing (American campaign), the Battle of the Bulge (German), and Operation Market Garden (British). You can even count on hearing your soldiers speak with the proper language/accent as you play. Still not enough? ASL will ship with a mission editor to create your own battles!
We're very excited to see how Advanced Squad Leader turns out. With dozens of weapons to use and vehicles to drive around, and AI forces acting as your allies within the missions, Squad Leader promises even more gameplay depth than X-Com.