In a refreshing change of pace, the designers of Robert E. Lee: Civil War General approach the venerable genre of Civil War games with an eye toward providing the player with something a little bit different. The standard victory conditions of simply occupying certain terrain or towns at the end of a set number of turns isn't what this game is all about. Instead, you step into the shoes of the most famous Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, and attempt to lead the Army of Northern Virginia through individual scenarios or a full campaign and try to change the course of history. The victory conditions vary from scenario to scenario and include such goals as elimination of Union leaders, simple survival or even just dislodging the enemy from certain positions. Of course, the standard occupation of key locations does occur but it is not the overriding objective in all cases.
The strength of the game is evident on several fronts. For example, player customization before battle commences allows for a varied approach and ranges from commanding single battles to a full eight scenario campaign or you can choose to play any two consecutive days of the 3-day Gettysburg battle. You can choose to fight for either the Union or the Confederacy except in campaign mode where you are limited to leading only the southern forces. The campaign includes an innovative "what if" scenario featuring the Rebel forces invading Washington, D. C.
Control of forces in this turn-based game is at several unit levels including cavalry, infantry, artillery and specialists. Each has bona fide strengths and weaknesses, attributes and abilities. You'll need to be very cognizant of terrain features and limitations during battle and use them as part of your overall strategy. Morale and maneuvering play large parts in successfully employing your forces as does stamina and awareness of enemy positions. It's advisable to play the tutorial to get a feel for how the computer AI fares (very well, actually) although it does have a weakness or two which can be exploited. The synergy between the various units is one element that stands out in the game. Equipment, reserves, effectiveness of certain types of weapons, offensive and defensive positioning, commander strengths and weaknesses and strategic planning are major factors that help determine the outcome of battles.
The interface in Robert E. Lee: Civil War General is a simple but highly effective point-and-click system used in conjunction with keyboard hot key implementation. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from and the challenge of the campaign mode is extremely satisfying (especially for those fans who want to try their hand at changing the course of history). But most of all, game play is absorbing and enjoyable with strategic and tactical decision making at a premium. For fans of the greatest war ever fought on American soil, Robert E. Lee: Civil War General is a quality product featuring solid game play, a high degree of historical accuracy and superb background notes in the manual.
Graphics: In-game artwork by famous Civil War artist Mort Künstler and the video scenes of battle (taken of CW reenactments) by Jay Wertz add tremendous value to the game. Terrain is well developed and plays a part in the game. Troop formations are easily identified once you learn all 19 of the variations (3 formations for each unit type and one for specialists) and the unit information displays are clear and concise. For example, the simple depiction of a unit's morale is shown in four stages from high to low. At the highest level, a picture of a soldier standing straight with both hands on his hips, the next level shows him with only one hand on his belt buckle, the third has him hanging his head with a hand over his face and hat in the other hand at his side and the lowest morale shows him with his hat flying off as he runs away from you. Similar graphics depict organization and health levels and the information panel is nicely designed for ease of use and recognition.
Sound: Period music can be toggled on or off but adds genuine flavor to the mood of the game. Sounds are fairly crisp with notable battle and order sounds.
Enjoyment: The entire package is well laid out from the excellent manual to the extremely useful Quick Reference card that comes with the game. Player involvement can be as intense as you want to make it and time has a way of slipping away in great blocks once you become immersed in game play. Not being able to play the Union side in campaign mode may be a shortcoming some fans won't like.
Replay Value: If at first you don't succeed (and even if you do), maneuvering the forces and planning varieties of strategy lend plenty of replay value. The game is not a short walk in the park, however, and will require some dedicated game playing time to reap the benefits of the entire spectrum of game play.
Strategic turn-based wargame focussed on the North American civil war. The game is campaign-based and links eight major battles into a single campaign where you decide the fate of the confederation. Includes simulations of actual historical battles such as Antietam, Gettysburg, etc. as well as a fictional assault on Washington D.C.
Uses traditional top-down 2d graphics for the tactical maps, and the game includes a series of fmv clips re-enacting battles, charges, etc. that play upon specific actions.
People who downloaded Robert E. Lee: Civil War General have also downloaded:
Civil War Generals 2, Sid Meier's Gettysburg!, Sid Meier's Antietam!, American Civil War: Take Command - Second Manassas, Battleground 2: Gettysburg, Panzer General 2, Pacific General, Battleground 7: Bull Run
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