A turn-based strategy game set in World War I, using a similar engine and gameplay system to Battle Isle
Both players act simultaneously on a split screen. While one player can move his units, the other can attack and vice versa. The results of battles are shown in animated sequences.
Terrain affects the performance of units, and seasons affect the likely terrain. Different units are introduced as the game and war progress, with more air and sea battles later on.
There are 24 single-player maps in the game, which can be played from either the German or French perspective. In addition, there are 12 two-player maps.
The game also includes a lot of information about the period: after each mission, historical facts about two months of wartime are displayed.
In the summer of 1914, Europe is on the cusp of war. Since the beginning of the new century the great powers have woven a complex network of alliances, pacts and neutrality agreements - some in the open, some others in secrecy. With the murder of Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and his wife, a chain of events is triggered, which leads to the First World War and will ultimately cost over 17 million lives.
History Line 1914-1918 is a spin-off to the widely known Battle Isle series and was released between the first BI game and its add-on in 1992. While the game was developed and produced by Blue Byte in Europe, it was released under the SSI label with a different title, The Great War 1914-1918, in the United States.
If you are familiar with the Battle Isle games, you will find yourself pretty close to home in History Line, as the game is based on the same system as its more futuristic, larger brother. If you are not, this is no problem either, as the game's concepts and controls are very easy to understand. You can choose between the two sides in WWI - the Central Powers (Germany, Austria/Hungary, Italy) and the Entente (Russia, France, England) - and fight a series of 24 battles from each side's point of view. In addition, there are 24 two-player maps, which are played by taking turns. At the end of each turn it is possible to save the game by pressing 'D' instead of 'F1'. There are 10 slots available which can be restored from the misc menu. Additionally, each map has a code which allows you to continue a campaign after each successful mission. The codes for all levels are provided with the extras.
The game is turn-based with two phases, movement and attack, per turn. The players alternately play through these phases, which means that while one player is moving his units, the other is assigning targets and vice-versa. This was a rather unique concept, which was picked up by several later games.
While initially you are limited to standard troops like infantry, cavalry, and smaller artillery units, there are lots of new and stronger units introduced during the later missions. At the later stages there are even large battleships, submarines, and bombers available for big battles. Besides every unit's strengths and weaknesses, terrain and weather have an influence on movements and the outcome of an attack. On winter maps the units are much slower, for example. Something that is always important is the experience level of a unit, which is indicated through little ribbons and influences greatly its damage-dealing capabilities. You should always take care that your units are not completely destroyed. When they have taken damage, withdraw them from the front for repairs. There are factories and depots on many maps, which have a certain amount of resource points to build new units or restore existing ones. While the goal of most missions is to capture the enemy's headquarters or to destroy all enemy forces, sometimes special objectives like the defense of an important depot or railroad station come up.
As is common for historic games, there is lots of background info about the events of WWI included, which is presented between the missions and during intro and ending. You do not really get what one would call a dense atmosphere, but it is a nice addition and fits well into the game.
All these elements make History Line 1914-1918 a decent strategy game, which can provide hours of fun, especially in multiplayer mode. Compared to BI, it incorporates some improved graphics and additional cut-scenes, like the new combat animations. The graphics look good, except for the winter missions which I would rate as average, and the sounds and music are up to date for a game from 1992. If you are a Battle Isle fan, this game is a must! If you are not, there is a good possibility that you may become one. Now grab yourself a copy and experience one of the best strategy titles of the early 90s.
People who downloaded History Line: 1914-1918 (a.k.a. Great War: 1914-1918, The) have also downloaded:
High Command: Europe 1939-1945, History Line 1914-18, Imperialism 2: The Age of Exploration, Hannibal: Master of The Beast, Great Battles of WWII: Stalingrad, Fields of Glory, Kingmaker, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000)
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