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Posted on Jan 7, 2007 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

2006 Game Awards

Editorial Staff

And the runner-up is…

MadMinute Games has significantly improved their Bull Run engine with their Take Command – Second Manassas. This game covers eleven different phases of Pope’s ill-fated 1862 campaign. However, even more historical battles can be fought by selecting divisional or brigade commanders or by using the scenario generator. Terrain graphics are detailed, accurate and delightful, especially when the zoom and rotate functions are used. The mini-map provides more functions than the usual location of units. Symbols show objective, current viewpoint and the player’s alter ego allowing for easy orientation in this continuous system. Troop uniforms and flags are shown in exquisite detail. Animation has units performing maneuvers, couriers galloping to give players new orders as well as the clouds of smoke caused by black powder ammunition.

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The joy of the game is the ease of play. Selecting individual commanders or specific units allows the level of control players want. A brigade commander can move several units with one order while regimental commanders handle details of deployment; units not under player command act intelligently in support. Unit formations include the four usual Civil War types and movement/combat commands are easy to invoke. Rated for efficiency, fatigue and experience, units perform in such a way as to simulate Civil War battle and command in an immersing way.

And the winner is…

Storm Eagle Studio’s first production covers an important but little-covered conflict with panache. Stunning graphics depict detailed and accurate continuous, pausable naval combat from single ship action to fleet engagements. Sea states are shown very clearly as are environmental concerns such as sun and weather. Vessels include mighty battleships to tiny but deadly torpedo boats. The seventeen single battles cover each phase of the war and include roles for shore batteries. Players can set parameters for computer-generated battles. The combat interface is innovative if unfamiliar. The fly-out menu controls speed, gunnery, group maneuvers and navigation. Changes in course are performed with click-and-drags represented on both the main and mini-maps.

The campaign level reflects the priorities of both sides along with their strengths and weaknesses with naval success being reflected in the land campaign. Both sides must deal with crew fatigue, fuel expenditure and maintenance but Japan must protect supply lines to Korea from Russian predators. Convoys and minefields add spice. Victory demands patience, cleverness and an appreciation of historical imperatives. The developer’s support has been overwhelming and receptive to player’s suggestions and comments. If the price is high, so is the reward.

[next, Best Action Game]

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