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Sample Armor Alley gameplay, with the player in control of the helicopter.
|Developer(s)||Information Access Technologies|
|Publisher(s)||Three-Sixty Pacific Inc.|
|Platform(s)||MS-DOS, Mac OS|
|Genre(s)||Horizontal scrolling shooter, Real-time tactics|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Armor Alley is a computer game for MS-DOS and Mac OS, with gameplay patterned after the Apple II game Rescue Raiders. Play is against either the computer or other humans in a LAN environment. The game supports cooperative multiplayer of up to two players per side.
The player controls a helicopter armed with limited munitions, such as missiles, bombs, machine guns, and napalm. As the player requisitions them, computer-controlled tanks, infantry, engineers, mobile missile platforms, and vans round out available firepower.
The objective is to destroy an opposing base at the opposite end of the play area. Various units are deployed for this purpose, which can be assisted by the player's helicopter. The enemy possesses the same arsenal as the player, so tactics and convoy composition are vital. Only the van, which contains electronic warfare equipment, can achieve victory by coming into contact with the enemy base. Its armor is quite weak, so these units must be protected at all times.
The two-dimensional battlefield is a long strip of ground, with the player's base on the left end and the enemy's base on the right. Every map has these two bases, but each map has a different pattern of fixed terrain features. The game ends when one of these two bases is captured.
The player's view is always focused on the central unit, the helicopter. The helicopter carries 2 guided missiles, 10 bombs and has a machine gun with 64 rounds of ammunition (at higher levels the machine gun is replaced by 6 unguided missiles). The helicopter's fuel is limited, so each player has to return to base before there's insufficient fuel left for the trip back. The helicopter is very vulnerable to enemy fire and so relies on its agility and the player's control to survive on the battlefield.
War funds slowly trickle into a spending account that allows purchase of units. Each unit has an associated cost. A helicopter costs 20, tanks 4, mobile missile launchers 3, vans 2, infantry and engineers 5. The player must spend carefully to ensure the purchase of equipment as needed. The farther the helicopter is from its landing pad, the higher the rate of funding. The more assets you have on the ground at the end of a battle the more funds you have to start the next battle.
All units must be purchased by the player, but once bought, they blindly advance to the right towards the enemy base. Extra lives may be purchased by buying more helicopters.
- balloon bunkers - Players may use infantry to capture bunkers to secure progress, either by landing or via paradrop. Once captured, passing friendly infantry or engineers will tether a barrage balloon that will destroy the enemy helicopter if it comes into contact with it. However it is a not a danger to your helicopter. If the enemy copter hits the tether, the tether will break, damaging but not destroying the enemy copter, and the now free-floating barrage balloon becomes a danger to both sides. A balloon bunker with an arrow and/or a balloon pointing toward the left is under control of the enemy; if it is pointed toward the right it is under your control. Barrage balloons can be destroyed with machine gun fire, missiles, bombs or contact by an enemy helicopter. Once destroyed, a new balloon will be tethered by the next passing friendly soldier or engineer. Balloon bunkers are staffed by one soldier. If 5 soldiers approach an unoccupied balloon bunker, one disappears in the bunker and the other 4 continue on.
- pillbox bunkers - tougher than regular bunkers, with guns on the sides. Infantry simply walking up to the pillbox will be killed by the guns on the side of the pillbox, and instead must be paradropped directly above the pillbox door. Infantry holding the pillbox will be killed by tank flamethrowers. If you control a pillbox bunker, you can land your helicopter in it (although you can still see your copter) and be safe from enemy helicopter attack; however you are vulnerable to enemy tanks and infantry. The pillbox bunkers have no arrow on them indicating if you or the enemy control them; if your copter comes into contact with an enemy-controlled pillbox (or balloon bunker) it will be destroyed (but its alignment can be deduced by firing weapons at it; if the pillbox is enemy-controlled, it will absorb the weapons fire; if it is friendly, the fire will pass through it). Pillbox bunkers cannot be destroyed, but balloon bunkers can be destroyed by missiles, bombs or by crashing your copter into them.
- gun emplacement - automatically fires upon enemy helicopters, causing a fatal amount of damage within a small amount of time. Some guns are tasked against both aerial and ground mobile targets (but not infantry). Guns on the enemy side of an enemy-controlled pillbox must be destroyed by infantry paradrop, or by missiles, bombs, or machine gun fire. Once they're destroyed, engineers can repair guns and they will fire on the enemy. Guns may be "converted" by engineers, being "fixed" to shoot upon enemy units. Some maps start with a number of gun emplacements that are broken, and which must be claimed by an engineer.
- neutral landing pad - In later levels of the battle, a neutral helicopter landing pad will be at the halfway point of the battlefield; you and the enemy helicopter can use this pad to re-arm and refuel your copters. It cannot be destroyed. All helicopter landing pads are neutral: if you can land your helicopter on the landing pad by the enemy base, it will start to re-arm and refuel, but comes under immediate missile attack from the enemy base.
- end bunker - The bunker at the far left end of the battlefield is where your war funds are stored; initially unstaffed, it will be staffed by one soldier—the first soldier that passes by). If the enemy helicopter can successfully execute a paradrop on it, it will be captured and you will lose your funding, and be unable to purchase military assets for a period of time. Likewise you can capture the enemy end bunker by paradrop (or a tank followed by infantry) and collect their funds and stop their deployment of military assets for a period of time. Like the pillbox, a successful paradrop must be made directly above the door.
- base - Your base is the next building out from your end bunker; it will launch guided missiles at the enemy helicopter, and is vulnerable only to an enemy van that gets within your base perimeter (the arrow sign). You can land your helicopter within your base and be safe from enemy helicopter attack; however you must be perfectly landed or you can be hit. Beware: If the enemy helicopter is destroyed, any of your guided missiles still in flight will simply shut down and fall to the ground: if one falls on your copter, the latter will be destroyed.
- The most important weapon on the battlefield is the player's helicopter, armed with limited machine gun rounds, several freefall bombs as well as 2 guided missiles. The strategies and skills of the player play a decisive role in the outcome of the battle. The relative expensiveness of helicopters necessitates care in the use of this unit, though suicide attacks are a viable tactic in the game. Toward this end, there is an "eject" function, where the helicopter is discarded and the crew (one to three men) escapes by parachute, henceforth acting as infantry.
- Vans are required to destroy the enemy base. As they have no weapons or defenses, they are very vulnerable, able to be destroyed by even a single soldier. Besides destroying the enemy base, vans will jam the enemy helicopter's radar when sufficiently close.
- Tanks are the most powerful mobile ground unit. They are armed with machine guns, cannons, and on higher levels, flamethrowers. Their main gun, the cannon, can destroy a van or missile truck with a single shot. The machine gun kills soldiers with no damage to the tank. The flamethrower is used to clear enemy-held bunkers. The tank may only be damaged by another tank, a helicopter, infantry-thrown grenades (albeit only slightly), or a ground-tasked cannon.
- Missile launchers are automated vehicles armed with one smart missile each. When an enemy helicopter that is not already targeted by a missile comes into range, the vehicle will launch its missile and self-destruct. The missile is guided and follows the helicopter, but the missile may be shot down. Eventually the missile runs out of fuel, crashing to the ground and destroying anything it falls upon.
- Infantry are soldiers on foot. Individually weak, they are however cheap and may destroy larger, more expensive units with their simple guns. Infantry may be carried by the helicopter and released with parachutes or directly on the ground. Soldiers will attempt to capture bunkers, but will be killed by guns protecting pillboxes. Soldiers can also capture the bunker behind the enemy base, which will not end the level, but will steal some of the enemy funds for the player and allow your troopers to fire upon new enemy units as soon as they are purchased.
- Engineers will not attempt to occupy bunkers, but can repair destroyed gun emplacements. Transporting engineers by air forces them to abandon their equipment, turning them into regular infantry.
- Paratroopers are infantry that you pick up on the ground with your helicopter and then deploy in midair using the spacebar key (one key press per soldier). You can deploy infantry on the ground by landing and pressing the spacebar. Note: Sometimes a paratrooper's parachute will fail and the paratrooper will fall to his death. Paratroopers can be killed in midair by machine gun fire, bombs or missiles. A tactic you can use if being chased by a missile is to deploy a paratrooper.
The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #166 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. 1992 and 1994 Computer Gaming World surveys of wargames with modern settings gave the game one and a half stars out of five, describing it as "a short entertaining diversion, but little of serious import".
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (February 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (166): 31–36.
- Brooks, M. Evan (June 1992). "The Modern Games: 1950 - 2000". Computer Gaming World. p. 120. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- Brooks, M. Evan (January 1994). "War In Our Time / A Survey Of Wargames From 1950-2000". Computer Gaming World. pp. 194–212.