Another great oldie I picked up over Christmas this year was SEAL Team.It was not too hard to find on eBay, but it was a little expensive (around $20). It comes in a great big box with a packed manual. Previously I only had the budget, all-on-one CD version, which was simply not cutting the mustard.
Back in 1993 before we had a PC (we had an Amiga A1200 in those days), there were two reasons I wanted a PC bad: Flight Sim Toolkit, and SEAL Team. When we did get a PC a year or so later (a 486dx4-120), I immediately downloaded the SEAL Team demo. It was simply amazing. Although it was lumped together with DOOM, Duke Nukem 3D and the rest of the new first-person shooter genre, it was actually a completely different beast. I t was really a military simulation, and quite a tough one at that.
Like a lot of the military sims of the day, it dripped with atmosphere (as much as 320×200 VGA graphics allowed!).The game was set in during the Vietnam war, and had you in a squad of four SEALs carrying out various missions.The focus was very much on real-time strategy. You controlled your own guy, but finishing the missions really required you to skillfully give orders to your team mates and the various helicopters and gunboats which supported you on a mission. In fact, there was no aiming of your gun as such. You shot at enemies by designating them as the active enemy, and then whether you actually hit or not was determined by the game using a role-playing like mechanic.
Another important consideration was dealing with enemies and civilians. Missions typically took place near villages, so you had to be careful with not killing any townspeople. This was fairly easy if you attacked with your own weapons as those aimed fairly accurately, but if you called in a support helicopter or boat (which was often the difference between life and death), these were far more indiscriminate and could kill everything in the area they attacked. This was particularly a problem in the missions which called for you to capture enemies. Oh, and if you wanted a really high score on the missions, yo uhad to search each dead enemy for papers and weapons. Each mission took a lot of patience.
The music was simply great, although the sound effects were only mediocre (although the bad guys did yell out in Vietnamese, which added to the atmosphere). I remember trying for days to extract the MIDI files from the game to listen to, and then somehow finding a tool for U.S. Navy Fighters which finally let me extract them (I wish I remembered where I put those files…). I also remember digging through st.exe with a hex editor and discovering a lot of strings for unimplemented features in there – night vision goggles, rocket launchers. All the great things that could have been.
People these days take the ‘Stealth Shooter’ (the Rainbow 6 series, the Splinter Cell series) for granted. This is the game that started it all (Some grant this honor to Airborne Ranger, but although that was a great game, it was too arcadey and not 3D, so it is in a different class). If you enjoy those, get a copy of DOSBox, and start hunting around the interwebs for this classic.