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Divided Ground: Middle East Conflict 1948 - 1973

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Take Two Interactive
Developer: Talonsoft
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 16 (over LAN)
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

When I first installed Divided Ground , I really had no intentions of a graphical masterpiece reaching out and grabbing me by my Hawaiian shirt (the one with the little boats and trees). So when I first got a taste of the graphics, I wasn't overly disappointed. Turn-based strategies aren't really expected to have sizzling graphics, and Divided Ground is no different. In its defense though, some of the individual units look pretty good, like the helicopters, tanks, etc. It also has some nice, crisp desert-like colors that saturate your screen, blending quite well into each other. The ground is mostly a sandy type of look with scattered oases strewn about. The elevation in terrain is visible, and the different terrain types are distinguishable which always makes things a lot less frustrating. I was disappointed at the way the ground looked after a huge explosion, resulting in a few poorly shaded craters that looked more like Spanish moss than craters. I did have a really hard time trying to find any 'hidden' units in forests. It just seemed like I could never find them. It could be a direct result of me being colorblind, but whatever the reason, it's no fun spending minutes trying to find one regiment amongst the trees. Again though, it is a Turn-Based strategy, and the graphics are definitely more than adequate enough to keep the gamer glued to the screen for hours.

The sound is kind of a catch-22, if you will allow me to say. I absolutely love the music. It has a definite Middle Eastern feel, following Divided Ground's namesake. It's a light, beautifully trapping kind of music that you can feel snaking its way around you. For the first few nights I went to bed, I had the tunes fluttering in my head still. So was there a down side to all this beautiful scitar-founded music? No, except that the sound effects were particularly weaker. Sure the tanks did appropriate 'booms,' while the helicopters 'whirred,' but it was nothing that truly mesmerized me. And while the omnipresent sound of battle sang around my head, even that little novel idea became monotonous over time. I guess I really am a music person, as the wispy Middle Eastern chant I mentioned earlier kept my blood going for weeks on end. If you happen to not be a music person though, you might not want to have the sound on for much past the first couple of missions.


Talonsoft has pretty much included every feature that a Strategist could want. You have your Campaign Mode, and Scenario Mode. Story pits you as commander of the Israeli or Palestinian forces. Your goal is to basically avoid being killed, while crushing the opposition. I'll tell you this right now, Israel ain't no joke. The scenario mode lets you choose from a wide difficulty level associated with the amount of units on the field. Trust me, looking after 200-plus units is nothing short of miraculous. The first couple of missions are easy enough, and provide an excellent foundation for the gameplay ahead. Granted, DG gets extremely difficult later on. It seems like you have to have an IQ of over 8000 to get past the later stages. You can tweak the enemy AI by a slider bar, which makes your units more or less powerful, both defensively and offensively. The slider bar is always a nice feature, allowing you to make the game customizable to your skill level. I cranked my slider all the way up to compensate for my gnat-sized mentality. Once in the game, you have more options to play with. They range from one of the five map views to seeing when your reinforcements arrive. You can control the fog of war, how your units are viewed, etc., and there are more than enough hot buttons to keep things fairly simple. Don't get me wrong, DG is a very, very complex game; but having all those hotkeys sure makes things a lot easier. Did I mention that Divided Ground is a complex game?


If you want perplexity in a game, then you've got yourself a real bargain here. The manual does do a wonderful job explaining things, and it will take a few trips through to get the hang of all that's going on around you. Of course you can tweak the slider bar, but the real challenge is just doing it default. The mouse is easy to follow, and with any of five map views at your disposal, you shouldn't have any issues finding a view you take a liking to.

Game Mechanics:

One thing that I really love about a game is one that will load up fast. Talonsoft's little creation is a bit on the long side when it comes to loading, and when my ADHD kicks in, I just couldn't sit through it. The manual is almost holy writ, as it is the only thing which totally clarifies just what is going on out there in the desert. The controls aren't difficult at all to learn. It's kind of like learning to ride a bike. It will be difficult at first, but you get used to it quickly. Of course you can't buy training wheels for a PC like you can a bike, but that's neither here nor there.

Riot Rundown: Divided Ground is a pretty good game. Fans of this particular genre will want to go out and get a copy, as it's well rewarding. Although it highlights a short war, the fighting in that part of the world is ever escalating, and DG provides some real insight into that war. It's a captivating game, that can easily intimidate a very casual gamer. If you're in the market for a difficult, yet rewarding game, then you'll want Talonsoft's latest.

-Sydney Riot, GameVortex Communications
AKA Will Grigoratos

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 95/98/ME. Pentium 133 processor or higher. 32 MB RAM. 4x CD ROM. 150 MB free hard drive space. 16-bit High Color SVGA graphics. DirectX6 compatible.

Test System:

Windows 98. Celeron 433 MHz. 128 MB RAM. 30 gigs free hard drive space. 48x speed CD ROM drive. Direct X 8 installed. Microsoft compatilbe keyboard and mouse

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