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July 27th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Industry, Wargames

SSG and Matrix Games have released Kharkov: Disaster on the Donets, the latest game in the developer’s Decisive Battles series.

I haven’t played it yet, but Kharkov is an interesting battle. In spring 1942, the Red Army tries to take some initiative in response to the German offensive and ended up getting trapped in a Wehrmacht pincer, with hundreds of thousands of casualties and prisoners.

As for the game itself, it’s interesting that the Matrix site redesign includes a Youtube video of Kharkov.

Does this video really make anyone want to play this game? I mean, SSG makes great stuff, so if you are familiar with the high quality of their games, then I guess this blurry movie of a mouse moving around won’t change your mind. But it’s not exactly clear what exactly is going on.

To be entirely fair, videos of turn based games are pretty dull. If it was a board game video and one guy was yelling at another guy for taking all the castle building slots in Caylus that would be one thing, but this is a narrator droning about the game and SSG while a mouse pointer moves around a screen.

I understand the temptation for a small publisher to use all the new marketing tools at its disposal, so kudos to Matrix for trying. But it doesn’t really work. The game ends up looking terrible, nothing at all like the colorful – even garish – SSG template. You can’t read any of the text.

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that you can download a hi-res version of the video from the Matrix website. It looks better, but it’s still not a very captivating movie.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • TristanC

    Put closure on that link, Troy. ;)

  • Troy

    Thanks. That’s what happens when you don’t check to make sure everything works right.

  • Roland Martinez

    That is totally the type of thing that would put someone who doesn’t play wargames off of them completely.

    Unfortunately the response by most game companies is to blow a few hundred thousand on an animated video that they can use as a “preview” video that shows nothing about the gameplay and is all atmosphere.

  • Robert

    A well-narrated video showing a particular differentiating feature of the game and nothing more might have some value. For example, the AO system in Disaster on the Donets woiuld make a good one or two minute movie if properly narrated, so the wargamers out there could see the new feature and mull a bit on how cool it is.

    As a advertisement for the game in general, yeah video doesn’t work out. A series of high-level AARs and beta AARs from players sells the product better.

    Though for Disaster on the Donets, I think the real problem is the content the game ships with itself. The Kharkov ’42 scenario in TOAW is one of the most enjoyable for a reason (the battle is incredibly dynamic and wild), but to ship a game with just one scenario is asking a lot from your customers.. Especially given that the last month or so has seen two top shelf wargamer releases in War Between the States and Birth of America 2.

  • skshrews

    I thought there was a typo regarding the Spring of ’42. “Kharkov” in WWII parlance typically refers to Manstein’s campaign of early ’43.

    The campaign of early ’42 was a more obscure battle-odd they would choose the earlier conflict.