The Great Battles of Alexander
I remember these board games from my childhood -- esoteric, historically-driven endeavors, usually featuring famous warriors from the past, in which the idea was to play out famous battles from a given period (the Civil War, WWII, etc), often commanded by some historical figure or another (Stonewall Jackson, Eisenhower), or those that he squished like bugs. (I was then, and am now, perplexed by the appeal of playing -- not the underdog, but the under-equipped and already-pummeled fodder of history.)
Anyhow -- any resemblance between Alexander and those games of my past (they're still around, but to me they're memory) is entirely intentional. What this means is that those of you who have only had strategy gaming experience with PCs are in for something a little different. This is not your usual PC game.
The game is played by moving troops across a landscape via hexagonal map, with different leaders having different turn amounts and longer/shorter ranges across which they are able to give orders. You move the troops their maximum amount for that turn (or less, if you prefer), engage in combat if you've ordered it, then that turn comes to an end.
While the game does offer the ability to play through a campaign, the actual scenarios are without flexibility. So, while you can play the battles in a pre-determined order, the scenarios themselves never change.
Presumably because the game was first designed as a standard board game, the sound and graphics aren't used for their ability to immerse. Instead, they work as representations of what you might find in the original version -- i.e., game pieces and a game board. To a standard PC gamer this'll seem a little bland, and if flash is your thing then you might want to stay away. I should at least point out that with this kind of title, the point isn't necessarily the graphics or sound quality, but the game engine and the kind of challenge it presents.
There is some animation and some sound, but none that you actually interact with. Troops will walk to where you're moving them, and when you've had your turn, they'll have little animated battles you can watch. The latter, over time, becomes more of an inconvenience than anything else. It's kind of like battle chess, where the novelty eventually gets in the way of what the game's all about. It didn't take long for me to decide I'd enjoy the game a little more with this option turned off.
Thorough by necessity. One note: The tutorial "walkthrough" that's provided might seem a little frustrating. All the hexes on the screen are individually numbered, and while this is fine for regular gameplay, sometimes it can be a little trying to find the corresponding hex on the page.
16 MB RAM, 30 MB hard drive space, Windows 95, SVGA video card, 2X CD-ROM drive, sound card
Reviewed on: P-150, 24 MB RAM, Windows 95, SVGA video card, 8X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster 32
Playing this game conjured up feelings of, well, playing a game. Its design having come from a board game, coupled with its more cerebral and dry vision of the battlefield, made the game seem a little less visceral and engrossing (if no less challenging) than what we're used to nowadays. It's a closer cousin to the kinds of hex games you find in hobby shops than the stuff at your local computer store.
That said, this game would certainly be worth it to the die-hard fans of military strategy board games -- but for those of you who are strictly PC people, it might be better to proceed with caution.
Download The Great Battles of Alexander
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP