The Battle Isle storyline is set on a fictional planet called Chromos, whose society is technologically more advanced than that of contemporary Earth, possessing the knowledge of advanced robotics (robots), computers (AIs) and limited spaceflight (enough to set up space colonies on the moon of Chromos). The individual games represent various wars that took place on Chromos.
The first three games are played on a hexagonal grid for a map. Players not only control the combat units (ranging from infantry and tanks to helicopters, fighters and bombers, armored trains, surface warships and submarines, stationary gun turrets), but (especially in the later games) also many support logistics units (ammo and fuel transports, scout and radar units, road and construction vehicles, and others). Units have various weapons and can gain experience (which in later games can be transferred over in a campaign). Fuel and ammo is limited, and logistics need to be payed careful attention to. Players also control buildings, where units can be repaired, and sometimes, produced. Weather conditions change, affecting unit movements (for example, a sea or river can freeze, immobilizing ships but allowing light units to move through it). Fog of war is prevalent and players have to use scouting units to gain information about the battlefield. Some of those options were added in expansions or sequels.
Players have various tasks, ranging from eliminating all opponent forces to capturing specific buildings or protecting certain units or places. In some missions events from outside the battlefield can suddenly change the situation, giving players new objectives, reinforcements, allies or enemies. In some battles there are more than two sides, each with their own objectives, not all of them directly involved in hostilities - some of them can be even allied. At the same time, those allegiances can change because of some events or actions.
Battle Isle one had the screen divided into two parts, one for each player. The turns were also divided into move and attack phases. While one player moved his units, the other commanded his own troops to carry out his actions. Battle Isle 2 gave the player the entire screen, and merged move and attack phases, and introduced the 3-D display of combat. Battle Isle 3 was very similar to Battle Isle 2, with improved graphics, more units and a new storyline. Battle Isle: The Andosian War was entirely set in the 3-D environment and combined elements of real-time and turn-based strategies.
The AI is relatively weak, relying on mass frontal assaults.After the player survives the first few turns and the AI's overwhelming numbers using protected artillery and terrain advantage, the computer is usually unable to mount a proper defense.
Battle Isle was Blue Byte's first big success in Germany and Europe. It was completed in 1991. Inspired by the Japanese game Nectaris for the PC Engine, Battle Isle spawned numerous add-ons, sequels (most notable are Battle Isle 2 from 1993 and Battle Isle 3 from 1995) and imitations. Of those among the most notable is BlueByte's own History Line: 1914-1918 from 1993, which moves the science fictionish climate of Battle Isle into the times of First World War. Others include the open source projects of Crimson Fields and Advanced Strategic Command.
Battle Isle achieved cult status, with over 600,000 copies having been sold. There were two data disks released for Battle Isle 1, and one for Battle Isle 2. Battle Isle 3 represented the most developed variant of Battle Isle 2. However, in the late 1990s Blue Byte decided that the old model was no longer sufficient and decided to change the model of the series.
In 1997 a new Battle Isle game was released as a 3-D tactical squad game: Incubation, similar to UFO: Enemy Unknown; later in 2001 Battle Isle: The Andosia War which tried to bridge the gap between turn-based strategies and real-time strategies, but both titles, while mildly successful, alienated many older players who had come to expect that the Battle Isle brand would represent traditional, board game style games.
Blue Byte attempted to use the Battle Isle brand name on yet another game (and genre), this time a MMORPG DarkSpace, which for a time was known as Battle Isle V: DarkSpace, but after Blue Byte was bought by Ubisoft the DarkSpace became an independent project.
As of 2010[update], there is no official Battle Series game in development.
Crimson Fields follows the original Battle Isle game mechanics closely, except that it doesn't allow for building of new buildings. The game is available on a variety of platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS, Dreamcast and AROS. It is also ported to a number of embedded devices: Sharp Zaurus, Nokia 770, Windows CE, PocketPC, PalmOS 5, iStation V43 and GP2X.
Games in the series
- Battle Isle (1991, Strategy)
- Battle Isle Data Disk I (1992, Strategy)
- Battle Isle Data Disk II (1993, Strategy)
- also known as Battle Isle '93 or Battle Isle: The Moon of Chromos
- Battle Isle 2200 (1994, strategy)
- released as Battle Isle 2 in Europe
- Battle Isle II Data Disk I (1994, Strategy)
- also known as Battle Isle II: Titan's Legacy or Battle Isle II Scenery CD
- Battle Isle 2220 - Shadow of the Emperor (1995, Strategy)
- 'released as 'Battle Isle 3 - Shadow of the Emperor in Europe
- Incubation: Time Is Running Out (1997, Strategy)
- German title Incubation: Battle Isle Phase Vier, UK title Incubation: Battle Isle Phase Four; also known as Battle Isle 4: Incubation, Battle Isle: Incubation, or just Incubation
- Incubation: The Wilderness Missions (Strategy)
- additional missions to Incubation
- Battle Isle: The Andosia War (2000, Strategy)
- German title Battle Isle: Der Andosia Konflikt; also known as Battle Isle 5: The Andosia War or just The Andosia War
- History Line: 1914-1918 – WWI with the Battle Isle '93 engine, game released before Battle Isle 2 on the PC/DOS platform.
- ↑ Battle Isle - Overview. bluebyte.net..
- ↑ ASC Documentation: Resource management
- ↑ Advanced Strategic Command homepage
- ↑ Crimson Fields manual
- ↑ Crimson Fields - Downloads
- ↑ Crimson Fields homepage
- ↑ ASC Documentation: Importieren von Battle-Isle-Karten (Linux)
- ↑ Battle Isle 2200 product page. bluebyte.net..
- ↑ Battle Isle 2220 product page. bluebyte.net..
- ↑ Abbott, Richard. Battle Isle 2 review. Game Bytes Magazine..
- ↑ PC Gamer Review of Battle Isle 2220, May '96. PC Gamer (1996-05-01)..
- ↑ Geryk, Bruce (2000-12-06). Battle Isle: The Andosia War Review. GameSpot..
- Blue Byte's official website for the Battle Isle series. Last checked on 29 May 2008
- 'Battle Isle series at MobyGamesfr:Battle Isle