Using an improved version of The Ardennes Offensive engine, Korsun Pocket takes place on the Russian Front, along the Dnepr River in the early months of 1944. It was here that the German forces made their last, desperate attempt to escape the circling forces of the Russian army. Players assume command of either the German or Russian forces in a battle that historians claim could have been, "yet another Stalingrad along the Dnepr River."
Designed to be more fluid and realistic than traditional strategy games, prior battles can influence enemy movement and military units have a variety of combat and supply abilities. During battle, players are updated with relevant and accurate data, allowing them to make informed decisions against their AI or human-controlled opponents, so that in the end, bragging rights will be based on generalship -- not luck.
If you're a hardcore wargamer, then you most likely already own Korsun Pocket, the operational level wargame based on the battle between the Soviet Red Army and the Germans in early January 1944. Released in August 2003, it is arguably the best hex-based, traditional-style wargame ever made. It's deep, complex, addictive, and yet very approachable for those new to the genre. If you hold any interest at all in military history or military gaming then Korsun Pocket is simply a must-buy.
When most gamers hear the term "wargame," they conjure up thoughts of obscure interfaces with so much data jam-packed into the design that it starts to become overwhelming even if you're interested in the subject matter. Wargames can be flat-out intimidating. Korsun Pocket does an excellent job in presenting all of the data and rules in a clear and concise fashion. This is mostly due to a wonderful set of tutorial scenarios that walk you through nearly every facet of the game. After playing through the tutorials a few times, it's easy to get a grasp how the game works.
The interface aids in making the game easy to get into. Everything on the map is easily identifiable with a simple press of a hotkey or by right-clicking with the mouse. Nothing is hidden or unclear. It's still as complex as most "hardcore" wargames, but the information is easy to decipher. For example, the combat advisor informs you which units are ripe for the plucking each turn. If you want to see if you have the firepower to attack a German infantry regiment, the combat advisor will do all of the number crunching for you and then display the combat odds of attacking the unit. You're never left guessing if you can or cannot succeed in an attack. Regardless of the odds, there's still a good bit of tension when you click the fire button and watch the computer roll virtual dice that are used in resolving an attack.
The game's AI is very good, and while playing a human opponent is always the best course of action for a true test of skill, the AI tests veteran players and novices alike. You can also give the computer AI a boost or a handicap to fit your level of play. Multiplayer is limited to play by e-mail (or hot seat), but the addition of the replay function makes e-mail games a blast. When you receive a turn from your opponent the replay button shows you his exact movements (unless hidden) so you are up to speed on the current situation. You aren't left to guess where a unit came from or how an attack went. It's all there for you to see.
If there's any room for criticism in Korsun Pocket, it's that the sound is weak (the music is downright strange at times), the graphics less than eye popping, and the fact that in the end this is really just a simulation of one battle and not an entire campaign. If you can get worked up about playing one epic battle, then it's not an issue. The game does provide several shorter scenarios as well as the full 48-turn slugfest between the Russians and the Germans, but there's no continuation of the war here -- this is a game based around one big fight.
Because Korsun Pocket is so easy to get into, it places the emphasis on actually playing the game and having a good time rather than studying pages full of charts and manually crunching numbers in order to figure out the best way to attack a tank division. Wargames don't need to be impossible to understand for a novice in order to carry the credibility of being a serious game that is faithful to the subject matter. Simply put: Korsun Pocket is a gem of a game and is one of the best wargames ever designed.
People who downloaded Korsun Pocket have also downloaded:
Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000), Jane's Fleet Command, Gary Grigsby's World At War, Korea: Forgotten Conflict, Great Battles: Collector's Edition, The, Panzer General 3: Scorched Earth, Pacific General, East Front 2
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