UMS (Universal Military Simulator) attempts to cover the ground of games like Empire and go beyond, simulating almost every aspect of warfare in a realistic manner. Battles can range from ancient history to a science-fiction future, with famed battled such as Gettysburg and the Battle of Hastings built in. The view system operates at multiple levels, from a single unit up to the whole theater.
However, there is no naval element whatsoever and the design pays little attention to extremely important wargaming concepts like fog of war.
The game spawned a sequel, UMS II.
UMS - the Ultimate Military Simulator, a. k a. Universal Military Simulator is a wargame where you can set up a battle and lead your side to the victory. This black & white game consists of two stages. First is a planning phase where you must set the moves and the status (attack or defend) of the troops. Then, when the two sides got the primary orders, you can start the turns of the battle phase. The troops will move according to their speed and order in eight turns by pha se. At the end of each turn, the ranged units can fire at the enemies in range.
When UMS came out in 1988, after seven years of developing, it made many innovations; It was one of the first wargames that offered intriguing isometric wire frame view of the battlefield, and an impressive AI that could properly manage its armies, following a common objective. UMS also contains a versatile army, map and scenario builder that is easy to use. Consequently, you can make additions to the four scenarios that come with the game (Arbela, Hastings, Marston, Waterloo without the prussians, Gettysburg). It also offers an interesting combat equation which takes into account various variables such as the unit's strength, elevation, weapons, morale, status, quality and accuracy.
However, UMS has a lot of weak spots. The interface is very unfriendly and cold for the beginners and the game has no objectives for the attacker. It's simply a matter of destroying your enemy, or being destroyed. The lack of naval force is just a minor fault. Finally, the lack of color could be considered a minus, as well as the lack of sound and a very hard to use map.
Overall, UMS gets a 3 because it is worth a look if you want to experience a genre's pioneer, but there many better strategy games with similar playing style out there. Consult the manual for further details.
A poor man's Empire, UMS is a very ambitious abstract wargame that attracts a minor following among hardcore wargamers, but fails in the bigger market. M. Evan Brooks sums it up in his synopsis: "A visual feast, but a playable desert, UMS was incorrect on two counts -- it was neither universal nor a simulator. It lacked a naval option, and the user interface was quite clumsy. The initial disk included the Battles of Arbela, Hastings, Marston Moor, and Waterloo (the last of which omitted the Prussians entirely)."
Despite his (and most other critics') harsh words, UMS does deserve recognition for a few innovations, its ambition notwithstanding. First, it was one of the first wargames that offer intriguing isometric wireframe view of the battlefield. Sure, it's nearly useless due to the clutter of unit banners that are almost impossible to separate, but at least it hints at a great potential if it works (the system was actually revamped and used to much greater effect in War College years later). The game also contains a versatile map and scenario builder that is easy to use, with full controls over terrain features and unit placement. Overall, UMS may not top any wargamer's must-play list, but it is an ambitious, broad tactical wargame that is worth a look.
People who downloaded UMS (a.k.a. Universal Military Simulator) have also downloaded:
UMS II: Nations at War, War College, The (a.k.a. Universal Military Simulator 3), Vulcan, Wargame Construction Set 2, UFO: Enemy Unknown Collector's Edition, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Uncharted Waters 2, TacOps
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