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Airborne Ranger

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Lawrence Schick



Copyright 1988, Microprose

Arguably the first ever tactical simulation of modern warfare, Airborne Ranger was billed as “action simulation,” and it flawlessly fulfills that audacious claim. For the first time, success in a military-themed game requires stealth and careful planning in addition to quick reflexes. Game description and review at MobyGames says it all about this ground-breaking classic:

“You’re an airborne ranger working for the United States. You are dropped into different missions with different objectives. Some missions require you to retrieve a package in a given amount of time, and another requires you to rescue POWs. Carnage aplenty, as you can use different means to kill different foes.

A “stealth” shooter, where emphasis is on avoiding enemy detection (even if it’s just 2D sprites), [Airborne Ranger] is very different from your typical game. Distract enemies by using timed explosives or rockets, manage your supplies carefully to last through the entire map. The “career” is very nicely done, as the missions tie together. If one of your rangers were captured (ran out of ammo and surrounded), another ranger may get a POW rescue mission which can recover that ranger!

Airborne Ranger is the earliest tactical shooter, long before Rainbow Six reinvented the genre in 3D. As a ranger, your job is to infiltrate enemy territory in parachute, glide to a landing without alerting enemies, then sneak through the many defenses (pill boxes, patrols, concertina wires, etc.), killing the enemy if necesary, accomplish your mission (which could be steal documents, demolition, take pictures of new enemy jet, capture, rescue POW, and more), and be extracted. The graphics are rather plain 2D, as this game is long before the advent of 3D graphics. Yet the action holds up quite well, as you tensely wait for the enemy patrol to walk by before you continue on your way, staying out of site, only use your weapons when absolutely necesary. You have your trusty Ka-bar knife, CAR-15, demolition charges, and even LAW rockets. You also have first aid kits to heal wounds. While not quite “one shot and you’re dead”, you can only take three hits, which means death CAN come swiftly when they do. As you sneak through the enemy territory you may run into some supplies dropped by earlier flights, which adds to the fun factor, as you had to choose where to drop those supplies. The game is a lot of fun then, and it’s still a lot of fun now, and nothing has really came close (except Rainbow Six, but in a different way).” One of our Hall of Belated Fame inductees, without a doubt. A must-have for anyone with even a remote interest in realistic military simulations.

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