Battles of Napoleon, released in 1988, is a cut above many war games published for the genre in the years when the home computer was relatively new. The game stands out when compared to others because of the clarity of components and straightforward command controls. While still reminiscent of the board games so popular at the time, very competently differentiates between the various on-screen icons (so important to smooth gameplay) by allowing easy recognition. Formations (square or open), as well as line and column configurations, are clearly indicated and the enjoyable cavalry charges are nicely delineated along with the attendant counterattacks. In keeping with many of early war game releases, Battles of Napoleon comes with comprehensive historical background notes regarding the scenarios and the times covered by the game. By including a mission editor (required to build new scenarios such as map, unit and most importantly, informational (tables) data), the designers went that extra step to provide a bonus for buyers interested in extending game life.
However, the real strength in this SSI, INC. collection has to be the inclusion of all five add-on scenarios, providing enough gameplay to last the war game enthusiast a very long time. Even though the game is dated graphically (the pre-1990 release supports EGA not VGA), Battles of Napoleon still holds up very well as a study in history and provides a good hands-on look at the conflicts with which Bonaparte was affiliated . The additional scenarios are Austerlitz (Napoleon's best achievement), Marengo, Maida Utitsa, Albuera (Polish Lancers and cavalry charges), Medellin (Spain), Bridge Battle, Santon, New Orleans Andrew Jackson, Camden and Cowpens (American Revolutionary War), King's Mountain, Hobkirk, Eutaw Springs, Wagram (long), Smolensk, Eylau (unique winter combat), Plancenoit, Bladensburg, Hill, alternate Waterloo and Leipzig and Quatre Bras battles, Vimiero Wellington, Aspern-Essling, Podubno, Village, Ligny (very tense and possibly the best of all the scenarios), Pyramids, Raab, Craonne, Corunna, a second Borodino, North, Jena, and Wavre.
As is customary with a war game, the learning curve can seem intimidating because of the sheer volume of information needed to get the most out of the experience. However, this in no way detracts from the solid foundation of gameplay inherent to the game and guarantees a rich and rewarding time investment once learned and mastered. Battles of Napoleon is well-thought out and the large collection of scenarios is icing on the cake.
Graphics: Icons are clear and detailed, and overall presentation is satisfactory for a basic turn-based war game.
Sound: Fair at best.
Enjoyment: The huge collection of scenarios is a definite plus and the game is enjoyable to play once the learning curve is behind you. This is a game worth investing some time in, especially for those interested in Napoleon.
Replay Value: With the scenario editor and plenty of historical battles to choose from, the game oozes replay value.
Battles of Napoleon is a historical wargame that lets you play either side in four of Napoleon's famous battles -- Auerstadt, Borodino, Quatre Bras, and the infamous Waterloo. Additionally, the game features a detailed scenario construction set that will allow you to design your own battles; everything from maps, to troop types, to weapon ranges and damage.
Gameplay is turn-based, each turn consisting of different phases. During your turn, you can establish various objectives (map squares to occupy) for each unit or commander, move commanders between units, move a unit, change formation, and, of course, attack or retreat. The Borodino scenario is the smallest, and can be used as a "tutorial" of sorts before moving on to the larger, more complex scenarios. This is a game that fans can legitimately spend several hours on.
The construction set allows, as you might expect, the creation of new scenarios for the game. In it, you will find the standard map and unit editors -- however, SSI allows you to make changes down to the weapon and unit type. This allows you to create scenarios for virtually any type of battle you can think of. As a silly example, it is possible to take the stock weapon "musket", change the damage and range, and rename it "laser rifle" -- you then have the makings of a futuristic battle on your hands. (Of course, you would need to modify just about everything else to complete such a scenario... but you get the idea.)
The learning curve for this game is steep; it is probably not for the faint of heart. Anyone who enjoys getting shoulder-deep into battlefield strategy and tactics, though, will feel very comfortable with this game.
Released in 1991, this is a very realistic war game on the most famous battles of Napoleon's career -- the game comes with Borodino, Waterloo, Quatre Bras, and Auerstadt, but you can design your own ones. You have the ability to play as either the French or the Allies, and all aspects of the battles are here -- cavalry charges, artillery barrages, infantry squares, and so on. The EGA Graphics are pretty good, despite the age of the game. Downsides to the game are the STEEP learning curve -- the manual is over 100 pages in length -- no mouse support, and horrible sounding PC Speaker sounds. If you are looking for a good war game on Napoleon's battles, and have the patience to learn this, this is the best game out there.
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