Across the Rhine
WHAT IS INCLUDED
I will also provide a compatibility CD that will allow the game to run under ALL VERSIONS of Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP, both 32 and 64 bit.
Want to play? Click the icon. Want the game off your computer? Click Uninstall. Zero hassle.
In the extremely rare event I cannot get this title to work on your system I will take it back for a full refund. All I ask is minimal assistance from you during the troubleshooting process.
Across the Rhine is a real-time strategy game, which rewards your character's increasing victories with promotions and, ultimately, control over more units. You are not limited to starting the game as a low-ranking recruit; if you are interested in the big picture of a war campaign you can begin the sim as a high ranking officer and control everything.
The battle maps are 10km by 10km, an excellent size for a battalion level conflict. This size usually results in skirmishes of 5 companies on each side fighting it out, with each company made up of about 5 platoons. The platoon is the smallest visible unit in battle - one vehicle is a platoon, damage to the vehicle means one or more real vehicles have been destroyed. There are many different vehicle types in the game - light, medium and heavy tanks may dominate, but infantry, anti-tank guns, tank destroyers, etc all are included. You can also request off-map artillery and air support.
The easiest way to get into the action in Across the Rhine is to select one of the dozen or so scenarios, each of which can be played from either the US or the German side. These, like the rest of the battles, are set from mid 1944 through to the end of the war, so the classics like the Battle of the Bulge are in essence represented. Yet as this is a battalion level game for the most part, grand scale strategy is not to be had.
Selecting a battle is easy enough, then you're either thrown into the deep end if you choose to be a battalion commander or you can paddle around in the shallows as a platoon leader. The time of day and weather all have a bearing on your tactics and the game play, and there are many different types of encounter; for example an engagement sees both sides on an attack after common objectives (marked by flags on the map).
The deployment screen lets you place your forces. You can also inspect and reorganize your troops' organizational units, zooming in in detail to see where they are placed and what they are ordered to do. A unit can have one of 12 or more different types of order to carry out, including probes, all out assault, delay, bypass, etc.
Once your loadout is done, and the realism details are set, you will be cast into battle. Realism includes opponent and friendly experience levels, fuel and ammo options, morale options, spotting options (full, partial or limited - limited is realistic) and more. In a campaign you can tweak these as you progress.
At last I'm in my tank (or rather my virtual platoon, represented in the game by one tank), rolling along in this deadly campaign. By default your driver is in auto mode and will take you along the path you've set or that has been set for you. During the deployment you can inspect all four main windows and tinker around. In this sense it is a simulation. There you are in a tank in a battle, with a respectable 3D view, plus battle map views. The aesthetics are very pretty and almost fun to just watch. At any time you can take driver control and go off on your own, but this can be rather suicidal - returning to auto driver control lets your driver reform with the parent unit.
The command window has icons that let you change your view, move to another tank, zoom in and out on the platoon level map, switch icon styles, jump back into your own character's tank, jump into the gunner's seat, and so on. All this can be done via function keys too. While cruising you'll just use your hatch (command open) view and maybe rotate your turret to see to the sides and maybe use your 7x zoom binoculars to watch for enemies.
What can you ride? The US side includes: M4 Sherman, M10 Wolverine, M18 Hellcat, M36 Jackson and M5 Stuart. The German side includes: Pzkfw IV, Pzkfw V Panther, Pzkfw VI Tiger/King Tiger plus the JagdPanther.
Overall the in-battle graphics are pretty good, with lots of varying terrain and units, and the sound is adequate. Digitized speech is used for messages between commanders. The four window approach was gaining popularity by the mid 90s. The typical computers of the time had monitors that could function at a higher resolutions, and the CPUs had the horsepower to handle all the required processing.
You can fight one of three campaigns from either the US or German side following the historical route of one of a number of real divisions. Or if you prefer you can play a hypothetical campaign where anything goes and the Germans can push the US forces back to the seas.
The campaign lets your character go day by day through life in either army, and while many days are idle ones you can get called into combat at any time. Combat can be tense as it's not just about winning; it may be prudent to cut losses and live to fight another day. Even with the German experience set to green I found my US compaign to be grinding too slowly, with losses so heavy my attached companies were withdrawn from my battalion.
At campaign level you can manage fuel, ammo and organisation if you choose to, scheduling rest for units and watching over replenishments. This is where Across the Rhine shows its depth - it isn't really an action tank game - it's strategy merged with real-time tactical combat. As your campaign progresses you can win medals and read of your trials in your expanding personal diary.
The campaign system is detailed, and it gives motivation for success in battle but not at the risk of taking unnecessary chances. This is one of the best features of Across the Rhine. Only a fool would endorse a strategy of recklessness when a more cautious approach can also reach the objective. Each campaign battle has different objectives and orders - one day you might be on an assault, the next a defensive holding mission.
The Battle Builder
If the campaign system doesn't appeal you can build and save custom battles; they can be used by anyone who has the game installed. The level of detail is typically MicroProse, that is, quite encompassing. You can select general terrain type, weather, time of day, etc and then place extras on top, with whatever battalion units you like. You can add minefields, roadblocks, pillboxes, and yes, even herds of cows. The battle builder allows you to specify random forces for one side which are weaker, matched or stronger than the forces you specify for the other side, so you have some sort of random scenario creation ability, though it is a little limited. Across the Rhine was a hot game when it was released -- there were (and still are) endless campaigns available on the Net for those seeking a challenge.
Across the Rhine effectively crosses both worlds -- one where strategic level orders drive the goals of the combat simulator. You can, in effect, directly see the results of your policies. The strategic aspect works particularly well (not really a surprise for a MicroProse sim), and once you have grasped the mechanics, you can control your forces effectively, coordinating companies, using recon units, etc.
If you are a student of World War II in the European Theatre, this game is for you. How could it not be? You get to follow the US or German forces over the last year of the war, fighting battles where you can ride in any vehicle! This was an ambitious game, one that only a company with the legacy of experience of MicroProse can pull off. Across the Rhine shines as a strategic campaign game with real-time 3D tactical combat. The detail and sheer scope of this game will reward the time you invest in its steep learning curve. Quake players look elsewhere!