Gary Grisby's World at War

By Scott Parrino 23 Jun 2004 0

Introduction

Readers could easily be forgiven if they looked Gary Grigsby?s World at War and first thought it to be yet another light turn-based strategy game along the lines of Axis & Allies. On the surface the game shares similarities with that classic boardgame, and at its simplest level, when management of the production phase has been left off, it gameplay is simple enough to pass for a moderately more complex version of Axis & Allies, too. But Axis & Allies it is not. The 2by3 team is, after all, the same set of folks who brought us Uncommon Valor and are about to launch War in the Pacific. They are grognards? grognards; even their ?simple? games have the veneer and depth that true wargamers appreciate.

Seeking the Sweet Spot

Gary Grigsby?s World at War was inspired as a kind of diversion from the complexity the 2by3 team was facing as they developed War in the Pacific. At last year?s E3 when Shaun Wallace and I were interviewing Gary Grigsby and Joel Billings about War in the Pacific, they gave us a sneak peek at Gary Grigsby?s World at War, under the condition of strict confidentiality. They had started working on it as a kind of break from the mind-blowing detail they were putting into War in the Pacific. What we saw was the barest of games, but even then we could see their magic at work. Now, a year later, the game is a playable alpha, nearing the beta stage in design, and I was privileged to be given a copy of the game and am thankful to Joel Billings, who devoted over ninety minutes of his time to lead me on a personal tour of the game.

The impression that I came away with is that it splits the difference between a simple turn-based strategy game like Axis & Allies and a dizzyingly complex strategy game like Hearts of Iron. The game is capable of hosting between one and five players and can be played by email (PBEM). It sports attractive graphics but it is under the hood that gamers will probably be most impressed.

As with any preview, the game I saw was not the final version, and inevitably there were several bugs (in fact, mine is the first alpha version available and was already outdated by the time I received it, with many of the issues I experienced already having been addressed). Most of them had to do with incompatibility with my laptop?s graphics card; which is not an uncommon issue these days, especially with laptops, as DirectX 9.0b makes its way into mainstream game development. The 2by3 team is hard at work addressing these issues, and expects to have them solved well before the game goes gold. Unfortunately, the benefit of seeing a game early means certain items have to be ignored and I will have to ask readers ignore some of the graphical issues I experienced. While some of the graphics in my preview were not able to show all of the beauty of the game, it should be noted that many were taken in 16 bit color, which still presented a good looking game.

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