John Tiller’s Bulge 44 Brings World War 2 Strategy to Your Android! Computer Game Review
John Tiller’s Panzer Campaigns Bulge 44 Android Computer Game Review. Publisher John Tiller Software Price $2.99 (also available for PC and Mac at different prices)
Passed Inspection: Nice traditional war gaming graphics, good help functions can be accessed on the web, evocative sound effects, accurate units, tons of options, challenging, great value for the price
Failed Basic: limited number of scenarios, frustrating time limits on some scenarios, can only play the Germans on the Android game, no “help labels” for the buttons on top of the screen, no way to take back a move
For computer war gamers, John Tiller is a legendary game designer. His games on the PC, Mac and now on the Android platforms have covered all imaginable subjects from ancient battles, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II and modern conflicts; Tiller has a game for every interests.
Bulge 44 covers those frantic few weeks when the German army initiated its last great offensive in an attempt to cut the Allied lines and keep the Allies from using the Belgian port of Antwerp. It caught the Allies completely by surprise but ultimately cost the German army much of its panzer forces and ended in a costly strategic failure. Now with Bulge 44, you can command the German forces from your cell phone or tablet and see if you can do better.
The game loads and plays easily. Using your phone’s touch screen, you can easily zoom in or out of the map screen, touch units to show their statistics, order your units to move or fire as well as call in artillery support.
Each hex on the map is 1 kilometer across and each turn represents 2 hours of time. Weather and hours of the day are represented so visibility drops depending on conditions or time of day. Each hex is rated for % of forest, elevation, visibility, supply, buildings present, obstruction present, etc. If a bridge is present, the bridge is rated for its weight load so be careful with your 72 ton JagTigers!
Each unit is a battalion, company or platoon and each unit is rated for number of men or vehicles, combat strength for assaults, ranged combat both against hard targets or soft targets, range of attack, defensive strength, movement speed, weight of units (important for moving across bridges or fording rivers), if they are artillery pieces or anti-tank guns do they have transport units (either horses, trucks or halftracks), morale, current casualties, whether they are in or out of supply, etc. Aside for the usual suspects of Panzer IVs, Panthers, JagTigers, etc. – there are also deception units in the game which are German troops disguised as American forces. Use them to move to the rear of the Allied lines and cause mischief.
Aside for the touch controls for movement, attacking, etc, the game has buttons on the top of the screen which control whether a unit is in transport mode or deployed mode, control of reinforcements, engineering tasks such as repairing or destroying bridges, clearing a path through mine fields, calling in air support, highlighting supply lines or lines of command and control, initiating close assaults, etc. There are so many different commands that it can become a little overwhelming – but primarily you will use the close assault, engineer, transport and reinforcement buttons the most. An on-line manual can be called on to walk you through the options. A touch sensitive “help text” function would be a nice addition as, at times, I look at the button and ask myself “what does this do again?” In addition, a “re-do” move option would be welcome for future updates. Also, it is too easy to lose a scenario in progress if you hit the “start new” button. A “are you sure?” safety selection would help with this issue.
Over a dozen scenarios are available covering the entire battle. Some can be played in less than an hour while others can take three or more hours to play.
To move a unit, simply touch it and then slide your finger to its destination hex. If it can’t move that far, it will move as far as it can based upon terrain, weather and fatigue.
Evocative sound effects accompany the action but they can be silenced if you need to. When horse drawn artillery moves, you hear the horses and the squeak of the wheels. Bicycle troops move to the sound of bicycles. Tanks clank and men march. This game has great atmospherics!
Attacking is equally as easy. Touch the unit to bring up a cross hair and then touch where you want it to attack. For calling in artillery, touch the artillery unit and then touch its intended target. If a unit can’t spot for that particular artillery, the game will tell you.
When you are finished with all of your units, you can end your turn and the computer takes its turn. Your units don’t just sit there when the computer does its thing – they react and fight back! You can use the “2X” button to speed up the computer’s turn so if you have a big scenario, you don’t have to wait for 10 minutes while the computer blasts you to smithereens.
Balance is pretty good and I never felt the computer units were overpowered.
My biggest complaint is that some of the scenarios don’t give you enough time to complete them before they end. Time and time again, I’ve been about ready to take an objective when the scenario comes to a conclusion and I lose! This may be realistic but it is very, very frustrating.
These small issues aside, Bulge 44 is no failed operation! The game is a great way to pass the time waiting in line at the grocery – just make sure you turn down the sounds of battle while waiting in line!
Armchair General Rating: 89 %
Solitaire Rating: 5
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!