The Falklands War: 1982 is a game that can be reviewed quite succinctly. Hardcore grognards, rejoice! Here you’ll find a highly detailed, complex modern warfare simulator, with enough tailor-ability to keep you and the wargaming community busy for quite a long, enjoyable time. If, however, you don’t consider yourself a grognard, or if you have no idea what a “grognard” might be, it’s probably best you just give this a pass.
I am not a grognard.
And I did not enjoy this game. I found it overwhelming, over-complex, and so highly detailed that I just didn’t have time to have fun. However, the game is done quite well. There is a loving attention to historical military accuracy, and the ATF: Armored Task Force engine that runs everything is quite an impressive bit of code. In fact, every issue I could lodge as a complaint would be considered a compliment by the avid wargamer.
ProSIM once again brushes up their ATF engine, a real-time war simulator that’s heavy on detailed gameplay and light on superfluous bells and whistles such as fancy graphics and audio effects. The game focuses on the Falklands War, the conflict over the titular Atlantic islands which took place between Argentina and Great Britain in the early 80s. Due to the nature of the conflict, The Falklands War focuses a great deal on infantry combat, with relatively little armor involvement. This makes for a more intimate-feeling wargame than some of the previous ProSIM titles, such as Raging Tiger.
The Falklands War includes 8 historical scenarios and 10 “what if” scenarios chronicling some of the more important engagements (or possible engagements) of the war. Each of these scenarios starts off with a briefing, a detailing of troops, and a suggested battle plan. Sticking to the suggested battle plan offers the historical view of the mission, but players are free to engage the enemy however they see fit, allowing for plenty of “what if” scenarios and replayability in even the real-life missions. Each of the missions is highly researched and (as far as this non-history buff can tell) highly true to the events that unfolded a few decades ago.
Once the initial setup is confirmed, orders can be given to the individual units, and the clock starts. Units can be controlled at many different levels, from platoon to squad to individual. At the higher levels of command, the computer AI takes over control of the individuals, making things somewhat smoother for beginners. Unit control is quite complex, with a dizzying array of commands to chose from, such as formation, speed, attack stance, and special actions. The interface is correspondingly quite clunky, although the game can be paused at any time to take stock of the situation and issue new commands. Once the complex interface is understood, however, there is a wealth of information and control at the player’s fingertips.
While the interface is being learned and the game being mastered, the AI can be adjusted for both friendly and enemy units, allowing quite a bit of control of the difficulty. Even at the lowest settings, though, I found myself having a tough time just walking through the tutorial mission, thanks to the less-than-user-friendly controls and the sheer overwhelming amount of information thrown at me from the beginning. At moderate-to-low difficulty settings, I found myself consistently crushed on each and every mission I attempted. It took me an hour of pouring over the manual to get my troops to consistently march where I wanted, rather than wandering around in circles for some mysterious reason. This is not an easy game for the casual wargamer.
This is also not a pretty game. The Falklands War takes place on what look like highly detailed, topographical maps overlaid with simplistic 2D icons. I had a very difficult time distinguishing between my troops, as there is no easy “at a glance” way to determine aggression settings, orders, or even troop makeup of a particular unit. A series of pull-down menus can be called up with a few clicks, but that’s just too clunky for my tastes. There is almost no animation, other than some rudimentary icon movement and explosion/combat graphics. Truth be told, most grognards won’t mind the simple graphics, because too many bells and whistles would get in the way of the myriad tactical details. Sounds effects are almost non-existent, and only serve as attention-getting devices to signal enemy engagement and the like.
Included with The Falklands War is a robust scenario editor, allowing the more creative members of the wargaming community a chance to add even more replayability to the mix. Even though the scenarios included are weighed toward infantry combat, the editor database includes everything needed for armor, air-to-air, and naval missions. I always applaud designers who are willing to embrace their gaming community by offering us a chance to show our own mission-building skills.
There are times I want to give two individual scores to a game—the “mainstream” score and the “niche market” score. The Falklands War: 1982 is a game that will find very little mainstream success, and most gamers won’t even give this title a second glance. I didn’t my time while playing the game, but I can see a good game here nonetheless. Much like previous ProSIM games, I am not part of the target audience. However, I can see that those who enjoy the thrill of complex, detailed military strategies will find a worthy title to add to their libraries.
A very detailed, highly complex war simulation that should appeal to the hardcore wargamer. Casual gamers beware.