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'Thunder and Lightning' Announced

by Thomas on Oct. 30, 2003 @ 2:12 a.m. PST

Not long ago Shrapnel Games and Patrick Proctor's ProSIM Company announced that next year they would be putting gamers on the front lines of a future war on the Korean peninsula in Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War. Now Shrapnel Games like to report that once more gamers will go into the breach, this time traveling back in time to the first Gulf War, Desert Storm, to refight some of the most brutal battles of the conflict and explore several what-if situations. Currently in development by ProSIM, Thunder and Lightning: The Battles of Operation Desert Storm, is another standalone title in the distinguished ATF: Armored Task Force line.

As the name suggests Thunder and Lightning will cover the war between Coalition forces and the Iraqis after the latter's invasion of Kuwait. Playable from both sides for a truly in-depth examination of the war, the majority of scenarios are historically based. Most wargamers will probably recognize names like Al Khafji, 73 Easting, and Medinah Ridge, all of which are but a sample of the scenarios to expect. Additionally, Thunder and Lightning explores many hypothetical situations, such as an early thrust into Saudi Arabia by Iraqi forces when only lightly equipped U.S. airborne forces were on the ground.

Built on the same improved ATF engine that Raging Tiger will use, Thunder and Lightning boasts its own set of unique improvements to better game the war in the desert. For example, players will have to deal with the brutal desert climate, and the poor visibility rendered by the burning oil fires. Probably the most interesting modification to the award-winning ATF system though is the addition of radically different training levels.

The combatants of Desert Storm were a mixed lot. From poorly trained Iraqi conscripts to highly specialized American forces (and everything in between) fought in the war. Thunder and Lightning manages to realistically portray the disparate training levels by examining each forces capabilities. Units are rated in several different training levels to reflect their real world knowledge, as opposed to one global stat that represents their game level. So, the player could control in a scenario three different nationalities, and each nationality may be rated across the board in something like indirect fire capability, but all score the same in electronic warfare. The player would then have to make intelligent decisions with this knowledge, as obviously relying on a force to call in an artillery strike when they've never used anything larger than a 81mm mortar would be a bad idea.

Thunder and Lightning will feature all the bells and whistles that one expects from an ATF product. Multiplayer is fully support, and you can play head to head or team to team over the 'net, LAN, modem, or even a serial connection. A scenario builder will be included, and the Power Toolkit will make an appearance once more, allowing would-be scenario crafters to make their own maps and databases. Like Raging Tiger the game will be told in storyboard mode, allowing gamers to jump into any scenario at any point. Following the full scope of the war (players will command various force make ups), and full of historical detail, gamers will walk away with a better understanding of the conflict when all is said and done.

The project leader for Thunder and Lighting: The Battles of Operation Desert Storm is a new member of the ProSIM team, Del Shand, formerly of the Canadian Army. A retired artillery officer, Del has spent his life as a professional soldier and in his spare time a devotee of wargaming, having amassed over 250 titles since beginning the hobby in 1973. With his professional experience and long time gaming knowledge Del is a welcome addition to the ProSIM Company.

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