If you're tired of searching dungeons and knocking out killer aliens, there is an alternative: strategy-simulation games. They allow you to command armies and wage war against a computer or a human opponent. Armor Assault is one of the newest entries in this field.

In Armor Assault, you're fighting a battle not yet fought between the NATO allies and Russia. You are in charge of up to six tanks, which range from light to heavy armour and armament, and thus vary in how fast they can move and how much damage they can do to an opponent. There are many different terrain types including water, trees, blown-up tanks and so on. Some are impossible to travel over while others are just difficult and cost you precious movement points. Also, there are two different firing modes called Opportunity Fire and Direct Fire. In Direct Fire, you fire a missile which will cause 25 percent more damage than Opportunity Fire, but your store of missiles is limited. Opportunity Fire doesn't use up a missile but it does less damage. Last but not least, all tanks have their own accuracy ratings, which means they frequently miss their targets. The lighter tanks are generally faster and more accurate but can't survive or cause as much damage as heavier tanks.

Besides its overall excellent graphics, Armor Assault allows you to use your joystick to conduct your firing and movement at the same time. This, however, is extremely difficult to master. You can play any one of twelve scenarios, using any of twelve tank groups. If you don't like the preset scenarios, you can modify existing ones or create your own using the incredibly clear and concise instructions provided.

The sound effects, though, are annoying. They may be realistic, but who wants to listen to groaning tank engines all day? It's also a bit discomfiting that the game doesn't tell you when you win - you have to figure that out by yourself. It can have its advantages though - you can design your own victory conditions and play for as long as you want.

This game is not for people who hate reading instructions. It's as complex as chess and figuring out how to play it can take a long time. But if you're willing to make the effort, this game is truly rewarding.

Use Opportunity Fire instead of Direct Fire - it will allow you to hit your opponent many times instead of just once. It's also much more accurate.