We've had a bit of a respite in the World War II theatre of gaming for a few months but it's coming back in a flood as you would expect. The thing is these games concentrate on one area of conflict rather than a conflict as a whole. Of course this is unreasonable in a game like Medal of Honor to expect EA to do that but in the RTS and strategy genre it's a lot more feasible. This is exactly what Gary Grisby and his team of developers have done and not only have they done it, its one of the best strategy games to hit the PC in a long time.
The game contains four campaigns for you to play through with a number of different ways to end the game - either the date or a victory condition such as building the Atomic bomb if you're the allied team. The first two are based around the Axis team and when Germany was the powerhouse during the beginning of the war after invading Poland, whereas the second two revolve around the Allied rally to retake Europe and ultimately defeat the Germans so not only is the whole globe covered, the entire war is covered in detail as well. This gives you the ability to change the story but the developers have kept it within some confines such as the allies not ever surrendering.
If you've played Risk you've somewhat already played GG WAW. It even shows a table as the map loads to give you the impression you are playing a table top game and there is no doubt GG drew inspiration from that. You play by moving your units across the map into either friendly territory to correlate troops together, neutral territory to declare war, or enemy territory to try and take it over. In a nutshell that's the game but there is a sheer amount of depth that keeps you coming back for more and more if you're into this sort of thing. It's a game where one war can last months and months on end, especially if you play by email which is an option. There is diplomacy, construction and politics all to keep you on you're feet during the war.
The game is divided into two areas; movement and construction. You can allow the computer to control one aspect for you if you're not familiar with the game and this is what we recommend you do first until you get the basics down. One single move can set off a chain reaction that can have you forces eating lead before you can say 'Oh no' so every thought must be considered. There is the option to put a timer on during multiplayer games to stop lengthy turns. Also you need to consider your units because it takes more than a few minutes to replace them and you can impact an enemy's ability to replace their units by attacking a port or township rather than the physical units they have built up. Again something that brings home the realism this game features. You also have to manage your supply routes to units. They do run out of ammunition and fuel and it is easy to forget this sometimes. You can have this automatically managed by the game but it is still there and still affects the game.
As we said in our preview a few months back, this really is the most comprehensive replication of the Second World War to date. The entire globe is featured and you can battle anywhere at anytime assuming you have the units to do so. You can get countries involved who were not involved into the war leading to some truly different wars playing out than what happened in 39-45. It does not feature many 'famous' battles such as Omaha beach for instance unfortunately but this is a game for those who care not for graphics and being wowed by atmosphere - it's a game for the armchair commander, those who want to lead a whole fleet rather than be a lone soldier fighting the war. That's not to say the graphics are bad because they aren't. In fact it's one of the reasons why we like this game as much as well do. A pseudo 3D engine is used with a 2D backdrop featuring 3D units, and when the battles take place, much like in Final Fantasy a new screen loads with units shooting at each other in turn. This does not go on until one falls, each unit only has one shot per attack which can lead to lengthy battles.
As we predicted in our preview this is set to go down as one of if not the best turn based strategy game of 2005. Gary Grigsby and his team have worked endless hours to deliver to those who want the ultimate World War II simulation, and that's exactly what this is - the most comprehensive and detailed replication of the Second World War to date and we can't see anyone topping this in the foreseeable future. The only catch is it's a very niche game and many general gamers won't get into it, hence the not high score that some may have expected.
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