Friday, February 26, 2016

Tigers on the Hunt - Preview

Tigers on the Hunt
Siliconsoft Systems
Published by Matrix/Slitherine
USD $49.99

This is a tactical-level, hex/turn based war game. The hexes are 40 meters wide and the turns (about two minutes of simulated time) are divided into 8 segments. Both the East and West fronts in WWII are covered with pre-made scenarios distributed from 1940 to 1945.

It is no secret that Tigers on the Hunt (TotH from here on) is inspired in the landmark board game Advanced Squad Leader. Veterans of the board game will easily recognize the very similar gameplay mechanics in TotH.

So, if you are a veteran Advanced Squad Leader, you are at home.


You will miss the flavor that transpired from the artwork of the board game. Although TotH is mod-able, the stock art work lacks personality. The retro color palette of the ground and the limited amount of art for the terrain tiles uses gives no visual feedback on where you are fighting. I'm not an eye candy type of guy, but sometimes it is nice when different locations have terrain tiles that are exclusive to the geographic location. Without looking into the unit counters, ToTH's Russia looks like Holland, or Normandy.

But that (personal peeve?) aside, the main issue with the map is that is not zoomable. The player can scroll around the map, but the sharp edges of the map portion shown in the screen may leave some of you with the impression that there is no more map than what he sees. There is no full-blown tactical depiction of your forces other than the seeing-through-the-one-zoom-level straw. The jump map provided is a collection of dots that doesn't serve any other purpose than to move to parts of the big map.

The user interface - a very spartan one - departs too much from computer war games current conventions. You can't select units by clicking them on the map, you are asked to select them from a list below the map. In several occasions, I wanted to shoot the main gun of one of my tanks and went through 3 screens to select target, weapon and ammunition. In the very end, a windows popped out telling me that there is no line of sight between the firing unit and the target. 

At least in my end, while the computer is processing movement and or fire it is not rare to see buttons temporarily disappear from the screen leaving a gaping white hole in the screen (I thought the game crashed until I figured out I needed to press the Esc key). Besides the animations for fire, the user interface barely talks back to you and when it does, it speaks its own language (ID #5 has fired on HEX 4.25 says one screen). 

Given the nature of the gameplay, which allows for plenty on-the-fly interventions by the two opponents, the game has no PBEM. I can't imagine how to actually implement that. That's why TotH can be played only against the AI and hot seat.

I'm going to stick with this game for a future review because the game rules are very appealing and the combat results come out very realistic. But is going to be hard to not look at the uninspired interface and the grievous lack of current standard computer war gaming niceties.



TheShatteredSword said...

Hi JC, Iam feeling exactly the same. I bought it yesterday, had a look at the interface and thought OMG. This plus the missing zoom got me instantly putting it aside. But I have hope for it in the future.

Anonymous said...

Persoanlly I think if your going to do a game like ASL you MUST incorporate all the detail that ASL has. Otherwise you end up with a game that will do nothing that other games out don't already do and infact some will have even more to offer and also it wont have any visual treats to compensate. A game vying for the ASL crowd has to be offering more than most tac games out there and as I said have the things that make ASL what it is and thats lots of detail and features (which is what appeals and is most famous for. One reason a digital game along similar lines would be a god sendas you wont need that massive rulebook and great memory anymore). I beleive this even has what should be considered as basic features like mines and wire and walls etc.

Hopefully after time it gets enough expansions and added content for it to be come a true ASL contender.

Anonymous said...

Oh and also charging £38.99 for a game like ASL would be a bargain. However charging that for TOTH in it's current state is way to much. Realy it wouldn't look out of place selling for £15 as an indy title on Desura.

I've been watching the forums and notice very few have posted their first impression. It hasn't had the negative feedback I thought it would get..yet also veyr few first impression posts either. I think people got so hyped for it they are having a hard time acepting it for what it is and or are just hoping over time it becomes what they wnated it to be.

gabeeg said...

I totally agree with all your points JC. I kept waiting and hoping this was not the final release and that some UI and Artists were going to sprinkle their magic on it prior to release...but then once the Twitch videos i knew this was it. Its a shame as I am a tactical game junky. Its just way too fugly and worse...unnecessarily clunky.

NW said...

This is a major and continuous problem with all games like this, all development that I've seen lately has lacked a lot of polish, it's been at a price point I just can't justify, and often the ergonomics mean I'm fully conscious that I'm playing a game and fighting the ruleset instead of fighting the battle. Even just a bit of art asset or especially sound polish would redeem a lot of this, but for the sake of watching numbers tick down on a screen there's just not enough pull there - of course, the more niche the development becomes, the higher the costs have to be, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Fierce Freddy said...

Some devs don't get it. There are too many options for wargaming now to have to suffer through archaic systems.

Gilmer 9999 said...

The day it came out, I fully was thinking about going home and picking it up. But, I took a look at one of the youtubes videos from the company, and I was completely turned off by the messages the game spits out. It looks like a debug window.

I decided not to buy.

H Gilmer

JC said...

Thanks everybody for your comments and feedback.
I am hopeful that a couple of things could be changed, but also I know that TotH has been in development for 10 years or so ... Unlikely that much can be changed.