When first viewing UMS II: Nations at War, most players will be overwhelmed by the massive size of the game and the seemingly unlimited potential. Unfortunately, the full capability of the game can't be realized unless the user also acquires the optional Planet Editor that allows you to design totally new worlds with mountains, oceans and land masses from scratch and several add-on disks with planetary databases, music and even personalized stationery for the leaders. But, the game as shipped contains hundreds of malleable facets that allow, if not the advertised total player control, then at least the illusion of such. The designers included three scenarios to show what the program can do, namely Alexander the Great's reach for world domination from Spain to India, the Assault on Fortress Europe (covering 1 Jun to 31 Jul 1944) and a scenario in which Napoleon's forces are poised to cross the English Channel on Aug 5, 1805.
UMS II: Nations at War is played entirely through a menu system with full mouse and keyboard support. Space doesn't permit a complete rundown of all the features contained in the game but an overview shows that all UMS II scenarios are divided into sequential phases. First, the human player makes all unit moves for each nation under his control, ranging from unit movement to diplomatic forays. This is followed by phase 2 where the computer does the same, often directing action between computer controlled nations. Once the posturing phases are complete, the player selects the execute command, the computer acquires control and moves units, makes weather updates and computes battle outcomes between hostile units based on AI routines (modifiable during scenario editing). The developer of each scenario has total control over factors such as unit strength points or production points and the ratios required in each instance to establish victory conditions. Total annihilation can also be programmed as a victory condition where only one nation survives all others.
The interface, although extremely easy to use and understand, is at times slow to react and one wishes for click-and-drag unit movement rather than the laborious process of highlighting each command required to effect a simple unit move. Sixteen various terrain types are available and scenarios can use either kilometers or miles for measurement. Features include special squares (forts and ports), weather (storms, wind, climate, temperatures, etc.), adjustable factors of experience, leadership, morale and supplies, dozens of options on troop movement, distribution and unit orders, sea power and amphibious operations, air power, missiles and orbital movement, supplies and transportation, complete control over a myriad of combat options, budgetary and diplomacy issues and programmable parameters for artificial intelligence routines. UMS II: Nations at War is incredibly rich in potential yet requires an enormous amount of diligent work to get the best results from the program. The plodding game play may well discourage any but the most ardent and die hard strategy wargamers.
Graphics: Visually, UMS II: Nations at War is simplistic and plain looking. Maps are constructed by squares thus all land, oceans and coastlines are squared off. The huge database of on-screen icons can be toggled on or off with the display menu which allows you to choose what shows on the screen (e.g., elevations, weather, terrain, paths, etc.). At the lower level of details the map can get extremely crowded due to stacks and overlapping icons thus slowing game play significantly. Resolution is restricted to fairly large lettering and causes tedious scrolling of the screen via keyboard input (ALT-N, -S, -W, or -E).
Sound: In game sounds and music can be difficult to configure. Designers felt the music track was good enough to offer the user an option to buy a cassette tape of it.
Enjoyment: Tremendous concept, truly high marks for effort. This is not a game for the casual user. To get the most out of this product the user will have to be extremely dedicated to the art of battle creation and above all else, copious amounts of research. It's fun to play around with the options and possibilities but game play all too often feels like drudgery.
Replay Value: So many options available.
Sequel to the original Universal Military Simulator of 1988, this release continues the game concept of its predecessor and allows the player total control of nearly every aspect of a battle.
In the original program, three scenarios are included: Invasion of the Allies in Normandy 1944, Battles of Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. and Napoleonīs greatest battles at Trafalgar, Austerlitz, Borodino and Waterloo.
Also included is the UMS Planet Edition which lets the player create their own scenarios.
People who downloaded UMS II: Nations at War have also downloaded:
UMS (a.k.a. Universal Military Simulator), War College, The (a.k.a. Universal Military Simulator 3), Will of Steel, Vulcan, Vikings: Fields of Conquest, West Front, Wargame Construction Set 2, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space
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