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    BCT Commander
    Author: Tony McDowell   Publisher: Shrapnel Games   Developer: ProSim
    Date Posted: July 11th, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 8.5/10
    Bottom Line: BCT Commander is a terrific product for those people that are interested in it. However, pushing it into a market where it is unappreciated will ultimately cause it to be overlooked.

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    Introduction

    Let's begin this review by drawing a line of distinction between what BCT Commander is and what it is not. First, BCT Commander is a simulation, not a game. The developers, ProSim, make no claims or presentation to the contrary. Second, BCT Commander is not intended for all audiences. No time or paper is wasted on teaching the prospective player battlefield tactics or operations. The only tutorial present for BCT Commander details the learning curve for the interface, not a how-to in completing the missions. Finally, BCT Commander is a tool. Its presentation of missions, maps, and symbols are verbatim those used by the military on actual missions. There are no fluffy unit representations or catchy audio cues to grab the player's attention. This experience is going be really boring from time to time, folks. But, hey, real missions get boring from time to time.

    Presentation

    Those of you who can't wait for BCT Commander to falter will want to pay particular attention to this section as it is the only one where it really does so. The interface for BCT Commander is deceptively complex. There really is a method to the madness here, I promise! When I first sat down to give it a go, I approached the experience as a gamer and, was deeply frustrated by the lack of click-n-forget ease. After reading the manual more thoroughly and realizing the interface's perspective, I reapproached it; this time as a soldier. Suddenly, everything made sense. I now found myself able to quickly develop plans of action and issue orders to my units. This brings me to my first major complaint. ProSim decided to be helpful by taking the most commonly used menu options and making them buttons on the main interface. Many of the most-used selections are available, but several were overlooked that I felt should have been on the toolbar. The option of creating a custom toolbar would've been greatly appreciated. Still, within a reasonable amount of time, I was soon familiar enough with the interface to use the buttons effectively. A normal player, though, would probably not care to be this patient as it seriously detracts from the experience while you are on the learning curve.

    My only other complaint with the interface really shocked me because I could not believe that quality control let something like it slip by them. Many of the actions and functions in BCT Commander have sub-windows associated with them. For example, when a call for fire support is issued, it is added to a queue which HQ will eventually fill. As soon as your call for fires is added, a small window opens which displays the current calls in the queue. Amazingly, there is no way to simply close this window. There is no "X" on the window to allow it to be closed. The only solution I found was to simply make the BCT Commander main interface the primary window or to untoggle the window from a pull-down menu.

    Now that I am finished chiding the interface, I must bring light to its strong points. First and foremost is that it uses real army-style topographical maps. In some cases, I found myself hunting for an option that would tell me the U.S. Army catalog number for the maps; they're that good. Next, I have to commend ProSim for the hard work they obviously put into proper use of unit symbols, map symbols, terminology, and procedures. As an army-trained individual, this gives ProSim several kudos in my book for adding this level of depth to BCT Commander.

    As mentioned before, my first approach to BCT Commander was as a gamer, which made me very frustrated. However, from a soldier's perspective, I found everything to be well-placed and organized. All reports, such as SALUTE and (L)ACE, emergency calls (MEDEVAC and Fires) and other needed items were grouped together in easy to distinguish headings from the pull-down menus. Even the execution of these reports and calls was according to standard military battlefield protocol. Too often I have seen war sims become heavy on unit diversity and detailed missions, but skimp on the simple protocols that make the military work efficiently. BCT Commander's level of accuracy was a very welcome surprise to me.

    In short, what the BCT interface does well, it does very, very well. The problems with the interface noted above, while annoying, do not greatly hinder the ability to complete missions effectively. Still, the add unnecessarily to the learning curve already needed to get the most out of BCT Commander.

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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction/Presentation
    2. Multimedia
    3. Overall Impression
    4. Pros & Cons/Final Words
    5. Rating Breakdown

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