Disclosure – While I am not involved in the testing or development of Steel Beasts Professional PE or any other current product in development by eSim Games, I was involved in the testing of the original Steel Beasts in 2000, and several missions created by me were included with that game, credited as such in the manual. In addition, another SimHQ writer at the time was a multiplayer tester. I have no formal or informal agreement with eSim Games.
When the original Steel Beasts was released in 2000, an online friend of mine, a veteran of the gaming industry and a tank sim enthusiast, once described it as “the sim the others could have been.”
What he meant was that even though other modern tank sims had then recently been released, none felt realistic after you’d gone through a few missions of Steel Beasts. Although it was somewhat hobbled by a fixed resolution of 640×480, a lack of 3D accelerated graphics, and no campaign, Steel Beasts developed a solid fan base as an armor sim that was stable, aimed at realism, and very replayable, including as a multiplayer game. The Steel Beasts brand’s reputation for accuracy had been — and continues to be — enhanced by the use of the game and more commercial variants by the armed forces of the United States, Denmark, and others.
More than four years later, the first consumer-market offspring of Steel Beasts is nearly ready for release, and work seems to be progressing fast and furious. With a comparatively hefty price tag of $125, “Steel Beasts Professional – Personal Edition” will only be sold online at the eSim site. While the limitations of price and availability may ward off some sales, from what I’ve seen, those people will be missing another solid release from eSim. To paraphrase my friend, this is “the tank sim many wished Steel Beasts was in 2000.”
What It Is and What It Ain’t
With three new products in the pipeline from this small, specialized developer, there’s been some confusion about what each one actually does (and doesn’t do). The bottom line is this…. they are each DX9-based sequels to Steel Beasts, aimed at different markets, with major differences between them.
The original Steel Beasts (and the bundleware release of Steel Beasts Gold) was followed up with Steel Beasts Professional, which is / was strictly custom-designed for eSim’s professional clients, operating for the most part in large, networked environments. It features limitless multiplayer capability (restricted by the hardware / network, essentially), special instructor modes, greater map editor flexibility, and more detailed after-action reports, as well as some new advanced tactical features like a detailed artillery call procedure, battlefield obstacles, minefield breaching, dug-in positions, refueling, and more.
The product being previewed here, Steel Beasts Professional PE (or ‘PE,’ from now on), is a stripped down version of that really designed for soldiers to practice on at home, or for very, very dedicated fans of Steel Beasts wanting the latest and greatest in the product line. It removes the limitless multiplayer capability (capping games at eight players), instructor modes, the larger maps, and after-action reports, but retains the tactical features mentioned. It will be available “soon.”
Read on to learn more about PE, and see what it offers you before you make that decision.