The hunt for the Bismarck is one of the most famous tales of World War II. The story of the sinking of the mighty German battleship has been told in books and films again and again, but up till now wargamers haven't been offered the chance to recreate the tense cat and mouse game in the North Atlantic, as the pride of the Kriegsmarine tried to challenge Britannia's rule of the waves and threaten her lifegiving convoys.
It may seem strange that such a significant encounter should have been left unsimulated while every other military match-up in history has been recreated on screen. However, if you think about it, you'll see the problem. The Germans only had two ships, and they sailed so close together for the most part that they really can only be shown as one unit. The British had 30 ships themselves, but this isn't really likely to stretch a veteran wargamer far.
Bismarck, as a result, is a very simple game, but designer Alan Steel has tricked it up with some neat features. There's aerial reconnaissance from the British aircraft carriers, weather (with some very pretty clouds) and, to make the real wargamers squeal, there's an arcade section! However, if you're a real wargamer, don't worry. It's really quite easy to score a hit when you're blasting away, battleship to battleship. Hitting the Bismarck in an aerial attack is a little harder. But once you've stopped flying your Fairey Swordfish into the drink, as I started out doing, it isn't too hard.
The strategic possibilities aren't huge. Either the Bismarck goes north of Iceland, or it goes south. All you have to do then is bring up either of the two aircraft carriers and a couple of the four battleships you have to play with, then it's over to the arcade section and good luck.
The whole game is well-organised, clearly presented and good to look at. You have a choice of three levels of difficulty, and you can choose to command either the Royal Navy or the Bismarck. It's a good introduction for those who are getting bored of arcade games and fancy something a little bit tougher.