A damned close run thing: Scourge of War: Waterloo first impressions

By Nik Gaukroger 01 Jun 2015 0

Two hundred years ago we were already well on our way through the “100 days” of Napoleon’s return to the French throne in 1815, however, we are also now only 10 days away from the release by Matrix Games of the latest in the Scourge of War series – Waterloo.

Brought to us by (American) Civil War veterans, NorbSoft, Scourge of War – Waterloo is due for release on 11June a week ahead of the actual 200th anniversary date of the battle. However, we have been given a pre-release version to have a play around with and so we now bring you our first impressions of the game. A full review will be forthcoming as soon as we can after the actual release of the game on the 11th

Not unsurprisingly the look and feel of the game is fairly similar to Scourge of War: Gettysburg – with the obvious exception that the sprites are not in Civil War uniforms but instead Napoleonic Wars ones. Duh! However, the UI has been given something of an overhaul and there is now a rather neat context-sensitive pop-up that appears when you click on the battlefield to give a movement order. The options available in this depend on what situation the unit in question finds itself and is really intuitive to use. We likes it. 

Overall, however, for the experienced SoW player there will be little adjustment needed and this is, of course, good news as they will be able to jump right in and get going with very little acclimatisation. For players new to the system there is a tutorial to work through which walks you through how the game plays. This isn’t onerous and you should soon be able to get going on the meat of the game. Actually doing well, of course, may be a different matter …

The game, in the version we have seen, comes with a batch of 20 scenarios from the Battle of Waterloo itself which can be played from the French or Allied sides, as well as Sandbox and Sandbox Campaign options. The scenarios cover different sizes of forces (e.g. brigade, division, etc.) as well as different phases of the battle. User scenarios can also be played and no doubt these will start to appear once the game is live. Waterloo is a magnet for “what if” conversations and it’d be good to see some of these translated into scenarios for the community to play. 

In play the game runs smoothly on the slightly creaking PC I used to test it on, which is good news as most people will probably have something rather better. Animation was good and scrolling around the battlefield was smooth – although if your PC isn’t up to the highest settings there are options to tweak things so they work for you. Most will run it on the best setting though I think. 

Although we have not yet had time to dig deep into the game what we have seen so far is good. Troops behave and interact as you’d expect and the whole thing does have a distinct Napoleonic feel to it – this isn’t a quick and dirty Civil War conversion, it’s a proper Napoleonic wargame (did we ever doubt it would be?).

As you can play the game at varying points in the command chain – you don’t have to play as Wellington or Napoleon – there should be huge amounts of replayability in this game. Additionally the multiplayer mode can support, we are told, as many as 32 players – which is pretty mind boggling really. I’m looking forward to hearing about a play through of the whole of the Battle of Waterloo with 32 participants …

Overall then, these first impressions are very positive. Roll on release day.

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