I write, you read.
Getting to the point of defeating the enemy is a long, dull drudge through many scripted or dynamically linear corridors that lead to an overarching premise that tells the player that they have officially beat the game or, in most cases, defeat those tyrannical Russians that happens to use weapons that their grandfathers used in the Soviet Bloc who happen to know nothing of strategic importance other than “Hey, if I run towards this enemy, maybe he will die, respawn , and kill me in a perpetual loop of the same thing over and over. While these games are fine and dandy, thank Zeus for realistic simulators like Steel Armor: Blaze of War that turn this farce on its head and show the world what it means to create a storyline without scripted anything at all.
The game utilizes a ridiculously good dynamic campaign that takes the topography of the very location that the battles took place and rips it out of reality and right to your computer screen so you can fantasize that you are the Rommel of Babylon. In the case of most other games of the RTS or war-games genre, they would pick some of the more well-known conflicts that the Western audience would be familiar with, like the storming of the bocages that lined the French countryside during the days that followed Operation Overlord (Combat Mission and Company of Heroes to name a few) or they would veer off into left field and pick something from the Ostfront (Achtung Panzer, which is made by the same guys that made Steel Armor: Blaze of War, Men of War, and now Company of Heroes 2). Not that these games aren’t good because they are doing something that is unique to their development teams but SABOW does something that the other teams wouldn’t dare do by taking it to the proxy wars of the 1970s and 1980s that relied heavily on tanks.
During this tumultuous period of time, the Soviet Union and United States, more ore less, waged a fifty year war without actually firing a shot directly at each other. What they did was supply multiple civil wars and conflicts that would help test their weapons systems against each other’s as to see what would happen if they actually met on the Fulda Gap. SABOW takes the Angolan Civil War between Cuban and Soviet supported Angolan governmental troops and the United States and South African supported rebels, Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, and the Iran-Iraq War. Seeing all these conflicts peaked my interest so I delved deep into the game and came to the Iran-Iraq War as the most prolific of them all so I dug into the dynamic campaign for this conflict.
I chose to play as the Iranians in this scenario (you can play as the invading Iranians or the defensive Iraqis) and multiple battles were fought over the Khamara Hills which has ended in stalemate as the Razavi, Kermani, and Ghulbuhar platoons made a trident-esque piercing action into the heights. The position was inundated with anti-tank emplacements, trenches for both the infantry and the APCs that supported them, and T-62s that were lying in wait for my onslaught of tanks. With Iranian airborne troops readily available to me, I parachuted them into the rear of the Iraqi positions on the multiple heights so I could perform a small encirclement on their forces which may or may not come to fruition in the coming turns. The beauty of it all was that it was all random, as in the AI fortified the hills on its own volition as it saw my superior tank force coming to bear down on it like a hammer on glass. The infantry had no way of defending their soft bodies against my company of mechanized terror so they dug in and waited it out.
The first battle for the heights was a cake walk, in terms of casualties, for Ravazi, Kermani, and Ghulbuhar, in which we only lost a tank or two to infantry RPG fire in one case and the other being immobilized due to its tracks being torn off by more infantry. The Ravazi was the most experienced and numerous of the three with five M60A1s to the other platoons’ three. Being at 2 A.M., the night sky was lit up like a Christmas tree as green tracers from the Soviet weaponry pinged harmlessly off the side of our M60A1s and our red tracers tore through the soft bodies of the Iraqi infantry. Incoming and outgoing rounds made a loud tremendous thunder as they shreiked overhead, signifying the death of an Iraqi or the dismemberment of one of man’s most technological wonders. At the first phase of the battle for the Khamara Heights, we sliced through their light armored vehicle, which formed a C-pattern, or horns, to envelope the advancing enemy. In a matter of seconds their three IFV vehicles were nothing more than smoldering scrap metal.
They probably thought the Iranian Infantry were making push first but my tank companies had the go ahead to start the assault on Susangerd. I had propped one of my Commanders on the outside of tank’s hatchet to get good feel of what I was seeing on the battlefield because, in this game, you are limited to the viewports and sights of the tank. Besides the screenshots being lit up, (it does that for the after battle wrap-up), I obviously couldn’t see worth anything and the night vision technology of the 1980s wasn’t what it is today so it is only natural for the commander to take a look of what he has to do to make sure that his tank gets out of there in one piece and forward the momentum of the battle at the same time but this was a bad move for the commander; the unlucky Iranian took a stray bullet to the head as he tried to get an assessment of the battlefield.
After that, the battle took a sort of lull; my tank forces couldn’t uproot the infantry from the fortified heights but it changed hands a couple times over the hour before they finally reclaimed it before we had to pull away and assess the damages. When the battle was said and done, the Iraqis had the heights but at a tremendous cost:
45 Badly Wounded (Combat Ineffective) or Wounded
5 Missing (Captured by the Iranians which, during this time, meant you stayed missing)