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American Civil War: Take Command: 2nd Manassas

Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: MadMinute Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

As far as strategy games go, Americal Civil War: Take Command: 2nd Manassas definitely looks good. Battlefields lack any intricate details, but still look better than the flat screens seen in most strategy games. Troops show off different uniforms, adding a touch of realism to the game. Confederate troops showcase more variety in their uniforms, reflection the “rag tag” nature of the CSA. Union troops are a little more uniform, though there’s are a few slight variations based on what brigades they belong to. At any given time there are over 1000 units on the screen at once, some dead while others living, making scale the game’s biggest draw.

Battlefields sound as you would expect a Civil War game to sound. An appropriately themed score lends to the game’s atmosphere. Cannon fire is the most prominent sound on the field with the pops of rifles and yelling troops rounding out everything.


Gameplay:

Without going into the actual history of the battles (the details of which would add at least a page to this review), 2nd Manassas places you in the role of Commander of either the Union or Confederacy. Scenarios all draw from real-life conflicts and include battles at Chantilly Hill, Cedar Mountain and, of course, 2nd Manassas.

Unlike most strategy games, 2nd Manassas places an emphasis on large-scale battles, rather than resource management or the actions of individual troops. However, the removal of these elements doesn’t take away from the depth of strategy or attention to small details. Instead, these elements are replaced with an attention to realistic details, resulting in a slower-paced game that may not appeal to everyone.

Most of the game’s emphasis is on controlling large units of troops into battle. Battles can eat up a sizeable chunk of time, even when playing with the smaller numbers. Most of your time is spent simply planning out battles and positioning troops in the best possible location based on the battlefield. Even if you’re a Civil War buff, the slow pace of battles and lack of any real action (at least when compared to other strategy games on the market) may detract from the experience. If you’re used to more action-oriented strategy games, you’ll feel out of place here.

One of the better aspects of game is the carry-over system. Soldiers that survive one battle can be taken into later battles, adding a sense of continuity. This adds even more to the game’s already deep strategy since you’ll have to think long and harder before sending troops into battle. You can’t just throw a group of troops into a battle recklessly since you may need their numbers later.


Difficulty:

Slow pacing and moderate complexity are what are likely to turn all but a select few strategy fans away. Battles are won and lost based on your strategies and not necessarily what the A.I. is doing. Fans of table-top strategy games (or Avalon Hill board games) will likely have an easier time getting into the game than action-oriented players. Larger battles are a little more complex and can get frustrating if you’re head isn’t in the game.

Game Mechanics:

Even if it does get a bit complicated, American Civil War: Take Command: 2nd Manassas's interface is generally easy to use. Most of the difficulty comes from the number of options would-be commanders are given. Commands and movements go beyond simply saying, “Go here. Shoot here.” Instead, the system allows enough flexibility that you’re able to deliver troop support where it is needed the most.

Unlike other strategy games, 2nd Manassas isn’t much of a click-fest. You’re given enough time to watch things develop and alter your plans; both actions require only a few clicks. And, if at any time you feel the need to step back and assess the situation (or just need a break from the long battles), you can pause things, though you can’t issue commands while paused.

Take Command: 2nd Manassas isn’t going to appeal to all strategy fans, but it should certainly please the hardcore group it is aimed at. The game is accessible to any strategy gamer and worth trying out if you're looking for a change of pace from your typical strategy game.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/2k/XP; 1 GHz processor; 64 MB video card; 256 MB RAM; DirectX 9c
 

Test System:



Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.8 GHz; Radeon 9250 256 MB; 640 MB RAM; DirectX 9.0c

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