Strategic Command WW1: The Great War14 Jul 2011 0
Strategic Command WW1: The Great War
When I saw that Battlefront.com and Fury Software planned on releasing a WWI - Europe version of the venerable Strategic Command game I thought for sure that Hubert Cater made a mistake. I have never played a single computer wargame in the past 30 years that focused on that conflict and enjoyed it. We can all be thankful that I wasn't consulted on making the decision to develop what is an excellent expansion for a very worthy series. (Disclosure: I was an official beta tester for SC2 and bugged Hubert so much after the release of the original SC with suggestions and bug reports that he added my name to the list of beta testers after release)
Fury Software and Battlefront.com have nailed the sweet spot with their release of Strategic Command WWI: The Great War 1914-1918. A playable, enjoyable, and relevant operational level war game focusing on the events of the world?s first global war. Built on the rock solid SC platform that has dominated the World War genre for the last decade SCWWI takes us back a generation and in this reviewers opinion is the first successful WWI game released.
This is a war that I have always chomped at the bit to get into but in every prior attempt I was dissatisfied. After playing SCWWI I think I figured out why. Put simply I have no context of the events of WWI. I know that tanks, gas shells, and subs made their combat debut but I have no background to the conflict. For example, I don't have a clue why German agents would attempt to destabilize French Morocco in 1914. Sure, that makes some sort of sense, but I don't have a clue why it was important. WWII and later I know in spades from countless hours watching History and Military channel, not to mention an almost completed minor in Military History focusing on WWII while a student at UC Davis, I know the events. I know Stalingrad. I know Dunkirk. I know Normandy. Playing any of the previous Strategic Command games I could get my head in the game and be there.
Launching the 1914 German offensive against Belgium and France....meh, why? SCWWI would be the same boring game except that the design team did something brilliant. Included in the game install is a strategy manual that explains the events of the day in such a way that for the first time ever I got a handle on the context of the events going on during the war. While I'm sure most hard core historical gamers don't need this handicap, it affords an excellent tool that opens up the game to a much wider audience. Myself included.
For existing players of SC, getting into the game will be seamless and easy. Sure, you don't have tanks or sleek fighters and the R&D tree is a little different, but the tried and true mechanics of the game are a familiar old friend. For new players, the interface is clean, the graphics well done, and most importantly it's fun to play.
After firing it up and starting the "Call to Arms" campaign the first thing that struck me was the increase in detail of the map. Where in previous SCs entire regions were abstracted by a single city, now the whole of the map is dotted by small towns and isolated fortresses. Setting up a trench-line on the western front was a logical extension of the map. And after investing R&D in trench warfare my units were nearly impossible to displace. The feeling of ?sitzkreig? definitely settled in.
Throughout the game event actions pop up giving you options for directing the course of the war from supplying potential allies with units or production points, to hiring generals. Suggestions for strategy also are offered.
New units include airships, calvary, recon bombers, heavy artillery, train artillery, and anti-aircraft. Familiar units like tanks, fighters, and aircraft carriers (sea plane carriers) are appropriately weakened.
For gameplay several new features are presented, the most important being national morale. If a country?s national morale falls to zero they surrender. Thus it isn't necessary to capture a capital and wipe out the military to win. Capture enough cities, fortresses, resources (and hold them) or destroy major fleet units and you can cause a country to submit. Units will no longer fight to the bitter end either. If a unit is particularly hard pressed and it is possible to do so, it may retreat after being bloodied.
On the high seas, merchant raiding is now more important than ever. Sea convoy lanes can now be effectively shut down if you park a fleet on them (See icons in Fig03). For Germany this means cutting off vital supplies to the UK by intimidating shipping traffic. For the Entente it means blockading the North Sea approaches to non-neutral shipping, reducing supplies to Germany. Keep the Dutch friendly though and you can sneak your fruit in through Amsterdam.
I only found one issue to complain about during play. You can use the mouse wheel to zoom out from the game map to the campaign map and vice-versa. Something really useful, except occasionally there was a graphical hiccup. Given that this is more of a minor graphical bug than a design flaw, I cannot fault SCWWI for it.
Overall I give this game high marks. For the first time I can say that I've enjoyed a computer WWI game.
CPU: 1 GHz Processor
RAM: 512 MB
OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
Video Card: A minimum of 128 MB with 16-Bit Color (256 MB with 32-Bit Color is recommended) supporting at least 1024 pixels in height and 768 pixels in width.
Sound Card: 16-Bit DirectSound compatible CD-ROM: 8x or betterHD: 1.2 GB free Hard Disk space.