Rainbow Six Lockdown South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa May 2nd: The South African President Yared Mbelu and an aide were taken hostage and are being held inside the vault of a local bank by elements of a terrorist organization. The hostages must be rescued and escorted to an extraction zone.

The elite multinational counter-terrorism unit codenamed Rainbow Six is called into service against a worldwide terrorist threat from an organization known as the Global Liberation Front, a group that is comprised of various leftist, anarchists, and third-world organizations opposed to western civilization. Rainbow Six is tasked with tracking down GLF cells in various countries and either capturing or killing that cells leader.

SITREP

Today is the last day of my vacation and I have been messing around with a few things in an attempt to get back into active blogging. Although I have played the hell out of Tropico 4 since May (367 hours on Steam, to the detriment of all other games), there is really not a singular go-to game for me. This afternoon I tried to install the original Rainbow Six game from Red Storm Entertainment, only to find that it does not play nice with Windows 7 (even with all of the compatibility capabilities).

Giving up on that I noticed that Steam is having a sale on 2K Games, with a number of them at a deep discount. I went ahead and picked up The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and three DLC items for less than $10, and presently am waiting for it to download over my wireless connection. A couple of weeks ago my apartment building was struck by lightning, and even though I have a surge protector we lost the router, a Blu-Ray player and my Ethernet connection to this PC has become inoperable.

Battle of the Roadblocks

December 18th 1944, 06:00 Bastogne Corridor: This scenario pits elements of the Allies VIII Corps HQ against the Axis XLVII Corps HQ. After the virtual elimination of the US 110th Infantry Regiment, VIII Corps committed their last reserve units into blocking positions along the St. Vith-Bastogne Highway in an effort to blunt (if not halt) the German advance to the west. Reinforced by the 101st Airborne and CCB of the 10th Armored Division, this force is all that stood in the way of the three Axis divisions moving on Bastogne.

Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine) was a massive German offensive supported by multiple subordinate operations with the ultimate goal being the recapture of the harbor at Antwerp, a secondary objective the severing of the American and British line which they hoped would allow for the encirclement and destruction of the various Allied forces in theater. Although American intelligence predicted a major German offensive, a precise date was not known and the Axis forces achieved almost complete surprise.

SITREP

Today my wife and I lost our beloved pet cat of 15 years who was named Midnight Mouse, or “Middie”.  He exhibited no signs of diminished activity and was actually quite playful this morning when we both left for work. When I came home this afternoon, he had already passed away. My wife and I are having him cremated and will keep his ashes.

This loss quite literally is devastating to me emotionally and while some may not understand the connection with a pet, many others do and understand what I am talking about. Over the last 15 years Middie was very interactive with my video gaming habit, often sitting on my desk while I was playing a game or trying to write a blog post.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park

Olustee Battlefield is commemorated by the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, a part of the Florida State Park system. This park is located within the Osceola National Forest, on U.S. 90. The actual battlefield consists of the state park, part of the national forest and privately held land on the south side of U.S. 90. There is an annual historical reenactment that takes place on the site of the battle, and nearby Lake City (in Columbia County) has hosted the yearly Olustee Battle Festival (a separate event) since 1976.

In February 1864, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the Union's Department of the South at Hilton Head, South Carolina, ordered an expedition into Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Confederate supply routes (especially for beef and salt), and recruit black soldiers. Brigadier General Truman Seymour, in command of the expedition, landed troops at Jacksonville, in an area already seized by the Union in March 1862. Seymour's forces then made several raids into northeast and north-central Florida.

Tropico 4 Eva Peron

The following post will detail a sandbox game (not tied to a specific set of campaign progression goals) utilizing the stock Tropico 4 game. The decision is being made up front to forgo the Modern Times DLC, as it in my opinion makes some undesirable changes to the game (most regrettably various facilities are made obsolete and there is a texturing issue with some of the new buildings that make the game look ugly). That DLC does have its positives however, such as some rather useful edicts like Health Care Reform and my favorite (so far) Police State.

While I have put in some hours on this game I do not purport to be an expert at this or the construction/political simulation genre in general. My build order preference is unique to my experience and what I detail below certainly may not be the best suggestion or optimal approach. One of the great things about this game is the ability to learn and evolve through trial and error, all along the way making both “happy accidents” as well as bone-crushing errors that drive you batty (I could not tell you how many miles of roads I have demolished.

SITREP

I have not posted anything in over a month on either of my primary blogs. I picked up a game on a Steam sale several weeks ago called Tropico 4. A good friend of mine had me try out the demo over a year ago and I was unimpressed, quickly uninstalling it and forgetting about it. Then the developer launched Tropico 5 on Steam in May, and they put the entire T4 game and all DLC (a boat load) on sale for $10.00 (I couldn’t pass up all of that content).

It turns out that the game has completely hooked me in the time since purchase. I have completed the main campaign and have logged over 200 hours of game time on Steam, more than any other game I have owned on that platform – in almost ten years. The closest other game was X-COM: Enemy Unknown (a freaking great game in its own right). There is just something about T4 that hit me at the right time and was just the right amount of different to capture my interest.

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator Delta Glider Test Flight

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2010 is a real-time 3D space flight simulator developed by Dr. Martin Schweiger that was first released in November 2000 and has gone through several updates with the most recent having been released in August 2010. The program is available for free and weighs in at approximately 2 GB as a compressed download and 3 GB when stored in a folder (it can be run directly from a folder without writing anything to the system registry).

The game attempts to simulate space flight by using Newtonian physics in an effort to correct a perceived lack of realistic physics based flight models in other space flight simulators that were available at the time of initial development. It models with a high degree of accuracy planetary motion, gravitational effects, atmospheric flight and orbital decay among other things. It allows the user to experience both manned and unmanned space flight missions.

Unity of Command Zitadelle PVP

This evening I faced off against Doug from the Cry Havoc! blog in my first PVP battle in UOC using the Zitadelle scenario, a six turn affair that features overwhelming Axis forces up against a wall of Soviet units fronted by entrenched infantry. The battle attempts to mimic the German offensive in the summer of 1943 in an effort to maintain a strategic offensive achieved after the third battle of Kharkov. The objective was to encircle the Soviets and destroy their mobile reserves.

The scenario consists of three objectives: Orel Outskirts (controlled by the Germans at the start, decaying by 10 points per turn after turn 3), Kursk (controlled by the Soviets at the start, decaying by 25 points per turn after turn 2) and Road to Voronezh (also controlled by the Red Army, decaying by 50 points per turn after turn 4). The margin required to win is 99 points and if there is no change from the start, the Soviets win outright.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!

Today I will be reviewing the demo for the tactical turn based wargame Conflict of Heroes from Western Civilization Software in conjunction with the creator of the original board game, Uwe Eickert. This is one of the few games that have a playable demo offered on the Matrix Games website and came highly recommended by my good friend, Javelin so I had to give it a try to see what it is all about. I never played the original board game so I am coming into this with a fresh perspective of not drawing natural comparisons to that product.

That board game was first released (from my limited research) in 2008 by Academy Games and a second edition followed in 2012. There were a number of expansions released for the game and the total product won a number of awards upon release. The PC iteration currently sports two expansion packs, Ghost Divisions and Storms of Steel (standalone), also available through Matrix Games. The base game is currently running for $39.99 USD. The Ghost Division expansion is $14.99 USD and Storms of Steel is $39.99 USD (all price points are for the digital download versions).

Free Game Weekend - Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis

The original Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis (repackaged as ARMA: Cold War Assault) is being offered for free on Steam until Monday. This is not just a free play weekend for ArmA III, but they are actually giving away perhaps the greatest military combined arms game ever created in the Cold War Assault title. Sure it is pushing 13 years since originally released back in June 2001, but great games age well and this title has been verified to run in Windows 7 (I have downloaded the free game and have confirmed this).

Crossing the Dnieper 1943

Chris at the Sharp End Gaming has put together a set of small unit tactical scenarios called “Command Ops Platoon Scenarios” which presently consist of three missions: Charge of the Pioneers 1942, Crossing the Dnieper 1943 and Kekava Firefight 1944. This after-action report will focus on the Dnieper scenario, a bridge defense type effort that pits the German 108th Infantry Regiment 38th Infantry Division against the Soviet 177th Rifle Regiment.

This semi-historical scenario begins at 04:00 on September 24, 1943 with the German forces comprised of the 38th Infantry Division that was depleted to at or below regiment strength. Hitler had allowed elements of Army Group South to fall back across the Dnieper, and faced Soviet forces that consisted of a refreshed and refitted rifle regiment whose goal was to establish a bridgehead and prepare for any possible counterattack.

Conquest of the Aegean Tempe Gorge Crisis

April 17, 1941 Tempe Gorge, Greece: The Battle of Tempe Gorge was a rearguard action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces against Axis units during the German invasion of Greece. While the Australian component retreated to the south, the Tempe Gorge location was selected as a suitable place to perform a holding action against the enemy which had significant more manpower and equipment at their disposal than did the Allies.

The Allied units were designated as “ANZAC Force” and led by then Brigadier General Arthur Samuel Allen, consisting of a depleted group of soldiers fighting with mortars, small arms, scattered artillery equipment and short of ammunition. This force was expected to hold off the advancing German 6th Mountain Division commanded by General Ferdinand Schörner as long as possible to allow for the larger forces to the northwest to withdraw to the Thermopylae Line via Larissa.

Germany at War Barbarossa 1941

Southern Russia, 24 June 1941: Today I will be covering a short mission from the demo version of the game which is titled “Dubno-Brody”. The 1st Panzer Group of Army Group South is advancing into the Ukraine and is the spearhead of the invasion in the south. After crossing the borders it now faces stiffening resistance near the towns of Dubno and Brody.

The objectives are layered into three tiers: a brilliant mechanized warfare victory can be achieved by the destruction of 60 combat strength points as represented by the Soviet 149th Tank Regiment. A high speed victory can be obtained by securing the four specified objectives within seven turns, and an occupational victory can be obtained if it drags into turn eight.

The Death of SWAT (Not So Fast)

A couple of days ago I made a commentary post about the perceived death of one of my favorite tactical shooters, SWAT 4. This post was entirely accurate in that the previous developer Irrational Games and publisher Sierra Entertainment have folded. What I did not point out is that the existing SWAT 4 game (along with the expansion pack) can still be played online.

The in-game server browser was powered by GameSpy and that went under several months ago making the creation and joining of a SWAT 4 game impossible without the aid of a third party modification. Unfortunately the most popular mod that could do this actually disabled the single player capabilities of the engine so it was a complete no-go for me.