Airborne Ranger is a video game developed and released by MicroProse in 1987 for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and MS-DOS. It is an action game in which a sole U.S. Army Ranger is sent to infiltrate the enemy territory to complete various objectives. Amiga and Atari ST versions were released few years later and were a wholly independent development effort and different from gameplay standpoint.
The game was followed by Special Forces in 1991.
The game consists of several missions, in which the player controls a sole Ranger whose objectives include killing an enemy officer, destroying an enemy bunker, taking out a SAM site, and rescuing a captured POW, which would possibly free a roster member that was labeled P.O.W. The game creates the maps and objective locations randomly, so the player is required to plan each mission carefully, because no mission is the same.
At the start of each mission, the player is presented with a short overview of the mission, and can select a Ranger from a roster of available soldiers. The player is then in control of an aircraft, described as a V-22 Osprey and is allowed to drop three ammo crates over the enemy territory. Once the three containers are dropped, the Ranger is parachuted into the area. Upon touch-down, the player has to overcome several obstacles, including enemy soldiers and officers, mine fields, foxholes and bunkers. Due to limited ammunition, the player needs to plan his path through the territory. The dropped ammo crates provide the soldier with fresh hand grenades and ammo. After completing the mission, the Ranger has to navigate to a pick-up point within a time limit. If the Ranger is captured (but not killed), the player can start an optional rescue mission using another soldier from the roster. Each successful mission increases the rank of the individual Ranger, up to colonel.
The manual mimics a Field Manual of the U.S. Army, and brings the number of code FM75-041, non-existent outside the fiction of the game. The manual includes 40 pages in black and white, plus the color cover of thin cardboard. It is divided into two parts with 11 chapters in all. In the second part talks about the true story of U.S. Rangers from 1759 to the American Revolution to World War II, the Korean War, until today, with the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada in 1983, their training and equipment, operations mountains, desert and jungle, consisting of a paraglider, a Colt CAR-15 rifle, on the hand fragmentation M26 grenade, a grenade launcher M72 LAW, the M18 Claymore anti-personnel mine and the ranger knife F7. Aside from informational purposes, the manual was used as a form of copyright protection - each time you loaded the game it would give the player a multiple choice question on the identification of military ribbons, which were listed at the top of each page throughout the booklet. If the player answered correctly, the game loaded. If guessed incorrectly, the game wouldn't load.
A review in Computer Gaming World felt Airborne Ranger was reminiscent of the earlier arcade game Commando, but much deeper and more versatile. The graphics and sound were praised, noting gunfire sounds different when shot from inside fortifications than it does outside fortifications.
Compute!'s Gazette noted that Airborne Ranger was an unusual game for MicroProse's developers given their history of publishing simulations, writing "they have created an arcade game, and a darned good one". Compute! stated that "Airborne Ranger is an excellent game from beginning to end", but cautioned that "the violence and action are graphic and highly realistic".
- US Field Manual Index
- Rohrer, Kevin (January 1988). "Airborne Ranger". Computer Gaming World. p. 18.
- Brooks, M. Evan (June 1992). "The Modern Games: 1950 - 2000". Computer Gaming World. p. 120. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (July 1988). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (135): 82–89.
- Bobo, Ervin (May 1988). "Airborne Ranger". Compute's Gazette. pp. 31–32. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- Bixby, Robert (May 1988). "Airborne Ranger". Compute!. p. 65. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Airborne Ranger at Lemon 64
- Images of Airborne Ranger package, manual and screenshots from C64Sets.com
- Airborne Ranger video capture