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World War II General Commander: Early Moments

August 1st, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Matrix, Wargames, WW2

I picked up this game a couple of weeks ago but have only really begun to get into it. It’s your run of the mill Battle of the Bulge game, with a nice range of small and mid sized scenarios leading up to the big German push.

I really don’t know where to even start with talking about it. It looks unlike any other real time wargame I’ve played. The maps and units look good, but everything is kind of a brownish green, making it hard to really know what is what sometimes. That’s why you get those big hovering icon units, I suppose, but if you’re going to use those why bother with giving me little men I can barely see? The air and artillery interfaces are very clear and easy to use, but you can’t drag select groups of tanks or infantry – a major oversight. When you zoom out on the bigger maps, it is nearly impossible to figure out what is going on where.

The biggest problems come from the AI. Take unit movement. The troops always want to take the quickest route to their destination, which makes sense right until you notice that the Wehrmacht is perfectly happy to stay in a nice column on the road while you set up your tanks and guns in a line and hit them as they come into range. The AI in general is pretty weak, forgetting its goals so it can focus on a minor distraction behind their lines. There’s not much sense of priority or dividing forces to take care of different problems. I like it when it clumps the infantry for my big artillery to hit.

But there is something about the game that I like. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It could be the old turtler in me. The scenarios are German offensives, so as the Yanks I can try to stem the tide of Nazis surging into France. The Bulge scenario is almost unmanageable, but the early minutes of that map make me panic like few other wargames do. Part of it is the confusion, but another part is not knowing which gap I should plug when or if I’d be better off retreating and retrenching. When the weather doesn’t cooperate and your air superiority means nothing, General Commander shows why the Battle of the Bulge is endlessly modelled by game designers – it’s a last angry thrust by a spent army, but even that can be terrifying.

I’d like to try it multiplayer and see if that redeems the game a little more.


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