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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    More affordable alternatives to Steel Beasts Pro PE?

    So after trying the trial for Steel Beasts Pro PE, I think the involvement of the game as a sim is pretty awesome.

    Problem is (other than its specifically odd manner of DRM that runs a local webserver or something), I can't afford it. It's something like $100 plus shipping and all, or more realistically, $125 plus shipping, as I'd probably get an extra license in case I wanted to play it with a friend.

    I've been looking around for a more affordable sim that offers a similar level of realism and involvement, and I just can't find anything. It seems like the best alternatives are Steel Beasts Gold and M1 Tank Platoon 2, both of which seem to be out of print and very hard to find. I don't even get links to warez sites when I Google them, which is pretty shocking.

    I would just go for Steel Fury or Steel Armor, but a big part of it is multiplayer, which neither of those provide.

    Putting those aside, it looks like the next best in line is T-34 vs Tiger, which has mixed opinions at best, and costs something like $40.

    I even looked into M4 Tank Brigade, given its namesake, but despite one of its Youtube comments sections claiming it has one of M1 Tank Platoon's designers, after watching the videos, it doesn't look very realistic at all, and I can't tell for sure since I haven't played it, but it appears that it doesn't even feature lasing.

    So, when it comes down to it, is SBPPE the only realistic multiplayer tank sim out there that's both still available and worth playing?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Pretty much.

    SBP:PE is an excellent piece of software, and well supported. But it isn't cheap.

    An alternative would be the new DCS game "Combined Arms". Multiplayer, but I think you will be well away from the fidelity of SBP:PE for the armour. Its big plus (for those who want it) is the link to the other DCS aircraft sims.

    Promo video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFN1iFfvVG8


    Download link (you also need to pay $29.99 at the eShop page)
    http://www.digitalcombatsimulator.co...os=136&lang=en

    SimHQ forum:
    http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.ph...ined_Arms.html

    What I found very fun a fair bit of time ago was the tank elements of Red Orchestra (1, not 2) especially the mod Darkest Hour. Some good tank maps. Not super realistic in terms of armor penetration etc, but a lot of the tank principles were there, if you were on a good server with the right mods. RO1 is generally super cheap now, so might be worth a look if armour map games are still running.

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Yeah, if it were more affordable, I'd have bought it in a heartbeat. Sure, I could save up for 5 months or so, $20-25 a month, but a lot can happen in 5 months...and that's saving up $125 for a game I couldn't play for 5 months.

    I remember reading that some people let others play using spare licenses they have, but that requires them to keep their Codemeter server open 24/7 or something and they could cut you off at any time, etc, and they paid $100 or more for it as well, so it's not fair to ask, really.

    I actually have Red Orchestra 1, but didn't play it much because the infantry part didn't quite feel right. Not quite sure how to put it, but it put a damper on my ability to play. I might give it another go.

    DCS Combined Arms looked interesting, but they said they were intentionally not making it extremely realistic, which compared to their other games seemed odd at best. Is it at least somewhat realistic? Also, they didn't exactly make it clear. Would I, for example, need A-10C to use a plane in that game, or does it come with the A-10Cs, the P-51Ds, and the Black Sharks?

    On second thought about M4 Tank Brigade, I might be writing it off too quickly. If anyone has tried it, I'd love opinions, but unless I hear that it feels a bit more realistic than it looks, I'm probably not going to give it a shot.

    Oh, I used to play WWII Online before it went F2P. I only tried a driving a tank once, and I didn't know what I was doing at all, but are they relatively realistic in the way they're modeled?

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Yeah, this is a big problem with the more obscure genres. There is no competition worth speaking of, so they charge out the ass and use very restrictive models.

    Reminds me of Domions 3 (I think). Looks AMAZING but piss-poor AI and 70 buck price tag that still hasn't gone down after years. But, up until the past 2 or 3 years there were no competitors ,and there still really isn't (the closest thing is Warlock, and that is very much a "less is more" game).
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  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Well, Dominions 3 is $55 now, but yeah, after all these years, that's a ridiculous price point.

    And afaik, SBPPE is so expensive because it's a military training simulator that was toned down a bit and released to the public. It still sucks, but I mean, at least it's better than "we decided we were going to price it like this because we can and no one can complain because we're the best out there". On top of that, it does use the Codemeter dongle which probably accounts for $30 or more of the price. But restrictive their model is, definitely. I hate the Codemeter thing. It's not intrusive, but the idea of having to use a dongle to play a game I paid $100 for sucks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnki View Post

    DCS Combined Arms looked interesting, but they said they were intentionally not making it extremely realistic, which compared to their other games seemed odd at best. Is it at least somewhat realistic? Also, they didn't exactly make it clear. Would I, for example, need A-10C to use a plane in that game, or does it come with the A-10Cs, the P-51Ds, and the Black Sharks?
    On the realism - I do not have it, but maybe someone at SimHQ could help. But way lighter than SBP:PE.

    Re aircraft, you get a free Frogfoot I believe - the A10C, Blackshark and P-51 are payware. FWIW, the A10C and Blackshark (I only have BS1, not 2) are excellent.

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartford688 View Post
    Re aircraft, you get a free Frogfoot I believe - the A10C, Blackshark and P-51 are payware. FWIW, the A10C and Blackshark (I only have BS1, not 2) are excellent.
    Yeah, I have Black Shark 1, though I haven't played it much. It was only $5 in a Steam sale, so I figured it was worth a go. It's really daunting though. Like incredibly so. The "short startup sequences" are like 3 minute videos on Youtube. So, in other words, I haven't sat down with it yet. I'm terrified my Logitech Attack 3 won't be enough. It's nice to know an upgrade to BS2 is only $20 away though.

    But yeah, the wording didn't explain that you needed the separate games to use them in Combined Arms.

  8. #8
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    BS can be daunting. But you can set the realism settings to switch it from near arcade to full on sim. For the start up, just use the two key instant start.

    But I do find it a challenge flying and fighting. That was was partly why the single seat design was abandoned (AFAIK) - pilot overload.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartford688 View Post
    What I found very fun a fair bit of time ago was the tank elements of Red Orchestra (1, not 2) especially the mod Darkest Hour. Some good tank maps. Not super realistic in terms of armor penetration etc, but a lot of the tank principles were there, if you were on a good server with the right mods. RO1 is generally super cheap now, so might be worth a look if armour map games are still running.
    Darkest Hour was a really great mod, for a time. I got into the mod late, but still had a lot of fun with it until it just because an ever-increasing arms race for the last few patches. It seemed like the developers were far more focused on adding in new stuff than fixing the things that were already there, and because of that we got things like the M4A3E2 Jumbo Sherman that was invincible and the M36 Jackson with optics that were anything but accurately zeroed, as well as the fact that the zoomed optics threw the zero off on everything. And a large part of it came from the fact that so many servers ran "heavy tank only" maps, which gave the Germans an inexhaustible supply of the big cats(Panther, Tiger, King Tiger, Jagdpanther) while the Allies were using, at best, the Achilles TD and Sherman Firefly, which couldn't really stand up to the big cats when they were in the numbers you usually saw them in. So you had a clamor for "more big tanks for the Allies" on the Darkest Hour forums, which meant that the problems with HVAP ammo never got fixed because they were too busy putting in the M4A3E2. Then the Jumbo never got its problems fixed because they decided to put in the M36 Jackson, which itself had a lot of problems that never got fixed.

    And then, because the Germans were getting put up against tanks that could actually contend with the big guns, at least in terms of firepower, they started screaming about how it was "unrealistic" that HVAP ammo or "X" tank was even in the game, despite the fact that it was completely unrealistic for 3 Tigers, 2 King Tigers, and a Jagdpanther to ever be on the same map at the same time. So then there was talk of stuff like the Jagdtiger and even bigger prototypes like the Maus being possibly added in to "balance things out."

    And, of course, as with all niche games, the community was full of tin-pot dictator and armchair general server admins. I actually stopped playing at about half the servers that were ever actually populated because they all shared the same admin list and one admin in particular was such a twat. There were numerous complaints from practically everyone who played on the servers to the people who were actually paying for them that he would abuse his admin any time he didn't get his way, but they must have fallen on deaf ears every time because he never once lost his admin powers.
    Last edited by unruly; 21-08-2012 at 07:50 AM.

  10. #10
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    I've only played it a little bit so far, but Steel Armor: Blazes of War might be worth checking out. You drive the M60/T-62 (and variants), seems to have decent realism, fully modeled interiors and some strategic depth.

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caljohnston View Post
    I've only played it a little bit so far, but Steel Armor: Blazes of War might be worth checking out. You drive the M60/T-62 (and variants), seems to have decent realism, fully modeled interiors and some strategic depth.
    Yeah, I've heard it's pretty good, if not a bit buggy. I had just hoped that there was a multiplayer game that was equally as good and didn't cost $100.

  12. #12
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    This could be fun:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...ite-the-thing/

    I know, not SBP:PE, but has multiplayer and I doubt is that far less realistic than your other MP alternatives.

  13. #13
    the wording didn't explain that you needed the separate games to use them in Combined Arms

  14. #14
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    Well, you can just have combined arms, and share an MP instance where others (who have the modules) fly the A10C and Blacksharks. The linked purchase page where you buy combined arms is fairly clear to me is ground units only:



    DCS: Combined Arms gives you control of ground forces during the battle. Use the Command Map to move ground forces, set artillery fire missions, and control the ground battle. Assume the role of a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) in multiplayer and designate targets for player-controlled close air support aircraft, or directly control armor vehicles or air defense weapons and engage the enemy.

    Features of the DCS: Combined Arms:

    • Move ground forces and direct their fire during a missions.
    • Be the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and direct close air support.
    • Jump into the seat of many armor and air defense units to engage enemy air and ground forces.
    • Play in both single player and multiplayer games.
    • Both small and large
    Last edited by Hartford688; 23-08-2012 at 05:08 PM.

  15. #15
    I would not recommend DCS Combined Arms as a substitute for Steel Beasts. I feel like I was duped into buying Combined Arms; Based on the realism in BS and A10, I figured they would put somewhat of the same effort into the ground forces that they did for those two releases. Wrong - the dev's will be open about the fact that Combined Arms is not a 'study-sim' (whatever study-sim means, I'm not sure).

    I'm not a big fan of the eSim business model (not a commercial-focused company, but a contractor-centric) but it's the best thing out there. The only thing that comes remotely close is ArmA, but don't even get me started with that...

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