Grant, Lee, Sherman: Civil War Generals 2
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On The Face Of It, Civil War Generals II has everything going for it. Somebody somewhere has had a year to iron out the creases and version two now sports a good multimedia guide to the American Civil War, a complete scenario editor that allows you to create battles from the ground up, and plenty of extra units and terrain features. Instead of playing that boring old rebel Robert E Lee, you can play either side and any general you like from the North or South. There are more than 40 different battles to play and 17 campaigns, covering both eastern and western theatres. For the solo player, there are around 200 different scenarios to get your teeth into.
You get Mississippi gunboats, engineers, mortars and horse artillery to play with and extra terrain types such as forts, swamps and coastlines. And there's head-to-head play over the Internet, modem-to-modem, network or e-mail.
At first glance, CWGII looks a bit like other pseudominiature wargames with realistic 3D terrain, colourful unit graphics and a neat player interface. But that's at first glance. You soon realise that a unit composed of three soldiers can represent anywhere between 500 and 1000 men - and that the only way they can shoot each other is to move adjacent to the target unit. Each unit represents a brigade or regiment, which is fine if you want to recreate complete battles such as Gettysburg, but as far as realism goes it's a no-no.
The closest game to CWGIHs probably good old Fantasy General. You move a unit up, attack, move up another, attack again and so on. Yes, you've got long-range artillery bombardments and specialist sharpshooters, but the overall appearance is wickedly unrealistic when compared to the definitive ACW games of Talonsoft's Battleground series. This is a real crying shame, because most of the game mechanics are superb. Leaders and other units have several factors such as morale, health, experience, that affect both combat results and behaviour under fire. You can rally units, rest them, swap leaders and generally take a lot of time getting the command and control right. But why bother when the battlefield is such a comic-book affair?
The point of victory
The most innovative feature is the 'dynamic' victory point allocation. Fight over a hex and it becomes even more valuable to each side, so the battle really hots up where the fighting takes place rather than on obscure victory point locations that nobody cares about. The more you fight over an insignificant hillock, the more victory points you get for holding it. The campaign is superbly thought out too - you need to conserve troops and yet win your battles, so there are endless decisions and strategies to try. But even when you chuck in some spectacularly clear videos, good sound effects, atmospheric music and really detailed weapons data, the end result is a giant waste of time because the corny graphics spoil everything. The units don't even face the right way; more often than not, the units on opposing sides will have their backs to each other as they fight, thanks to the limited number of bitmaps representing each one.
In short, CWGII is a huge disappointment. There's a hell of a good game engine in there somewhere, but overall the game is full of holes, not to mention countless bugs. To put it more succinctly, it's just not very good.
Download Grant, Lee, Sherman: Civil War Generals 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP