ReviewWorld War II: General Commander

  • January 20, 2010
  • Goose stepping into oblivion
  • by: Scorpogee
  • available on: PC

World War II: General Commander

Publisher: Matrix Games

Release Date: 07/08/2009


Genre: real time
Setting: historic

When I play a war game, I measure it by experience relative to board games and past computer games. That measurement was quite simple; you have the good, the bad and the ugly. For me, World War II: General Commander fell between the boards right through the good and the bad category.

Real-time strategy games make up a significant portion of the gaming population. When it comes to historical war games, though, it’s harder to incorporate that factor when dealing with divisions, regiments and battalions. You’re talking about a representation of hundreds to thousands of troops being moved across terrain that is measured in miles or kilometers. The armies are represented in symbol form so that they are easier to manage.

RTS games are hard to manage unless you have a pause key that allows you to direct orders prior to the actual movement. In the case of World War II: General Commander, we do have the luxury of this control. Otherwise, the game would be too unwieldy. In my case, I prefer the hex grid strategic type game as it’s easier to plot movements and plan strategies. The RTS that this game provides fails miserably in my eyes. Image13

When I loaded the first scenario, which is recommended as a simple tutorial, I was disheartened to see that managing the regiments was hard at first. I couldn’t easily click on any of the symbols until I realized that there was a pointer to each regiment that was clickable. This brought up all of the battalions that comprised the regiment. This made it a bit easier to control individual battalions. Remember I said symbols ... well, if you zoom in really close, you’ll be able to see the various troops and armor that makes up the symbol. The only problem with zooming in so close is the inability to focus on the larger picture.

One of the features is the ability to change the map from a realistic view to a tactical view, which is a big help as you then can view the valleys and hills a lot better. This provides an easier representation for line-of-sight angles. The realistic view is more of a hindrance than help. Symbols can be changed from the standard type to NATO military type. One big problem that seemed to be obvious was the lack of a zone of control as the battle field became a hodge-podge of units mixing with each other. This becomes extremely annoying as a zone of control determines what units control what on the field of battle — especially when dealing with large units. Image1

Air support is simplified by choosing where to put the target symbol on the field of battle and determining where the fighters and bombers will attack. This is refined by whether the weather is clear. Cloudy conditions prohibit any kind of air support. Combat in World War II: General Commander is the worse mess I have ever seen when playing a war game. Basically it was a slugfest with either attack, defend, fortify or retreat. Combat took forever as each unit was a representation of how many troops made up a battalion or tanks. Thus, for example, you could have four hundred soldiers in a battalion and watch the numbers dwindle as they attacked until they broke and retreated from taking too many casualties.

Music was OK but a bit redundant and the graphics were only OK. There were some graphs and a number of icons that you could manipulate to change how you looked at the battlefield.

Overall, after playing three scenarios — the tutorial and two Bastogne ones — I gave up and called it quits. Though there is multiplayer, I didn’t bother to hook up on that and never bothered to mess around with the battle editor. I was sorely disappointed with World War II: General Commander. I just wasn’t impressed with playing this game. I wouldn’t consider purchasing this game unless the price was right. There are better ones out there.

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About the Author, Edward Rank (A.K.A Scorpogee)

Father of two, now grown children.What are my kind of games? Strategy, RTS, RPG, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and online games such as Dark Age of Camelot and Asheron's Call. Of my dislikes I would say puzzle games such as Myth, FPS type games such as Doom. Also simulation type games, and games that are just plain bad.

My knowledge of the industry mostly evolves around beta testing games, such as Earth & Beyond from EA, Saga of Ryzom, and companies like MSN and Acolade. Self taught web design is another interest I have. Family life is entertaining at times. It also can get weird as well, after you have been married 31 years.