ago I thought all was lost to Napoleonic wargamers who love to hop
on the computer and test themselves on the screen of battle. It
seemed game developers had given up on producing thinking-people's
titles and forsaken them for 3D shoot-em-ups.
how the position has changed and developers have hit a purple patch,
releasing some very fine games on the era of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Games has given us Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Battle and the
hopefully out soon Austerlitz: Napoleon's Greatest Victory,
Strategy First the empire-controlling Europa Universalis 2
and now HPS Simulations has joined the party with the John Tiller
creation Napoleon's Russian Campaign.
straightaway it has to be said that Napoleon's Russian Campaign
is yet another game that will have grognards ignoring their kids,
spurning their wives and DVD movies and reaching for the PC's on-switch.
it is an engrossing simulation of the disastrous French 1812 invasion
of Russia and, once you get the hang of it, will keep you absorbed
for an eternity.
Russian Campaign strikes me as being a Mark II version of Talonsoft's
Battleground series, with much-improved gameplay and testing scenarios.
the sprites and terrain are not as good, the in-game graphical information
is superior and the whole set-up of the game and its playability
will appeal to all. In addition, there is the sheer challenge of
taking on a military operation that even Bonaparte could not win
- a gauntlet that all self-respecting wargamers will want to pick
that is not to say that Napoleon's Russian Campaign is an
extra campaign of the Battleground series - far from it. Rather
Tiller has produced a game that Talonsoft fans will easily pick
up - due to its basic Battleground style - but one that offers a
much more fluid and playable time at the computer.
first thing that hits you is that no longer do you have to go through
the rigid phases of play forced on you by the Talonsoft games.
side has a turn, and in that period you can move, shoot, melee,
change facing as you see fit - within the generous limits the rules
Napoleon's Russian Campaign changes from a board-game style
"follow the phases in exact order" to a more realistic and sensible
clash of arms.
automatically get defensive fire when a unit moves - or changes
facing - in their electronic zone-of-control. This not only gives
newcomers to computer wargaming a feel of immediacy of action, but
will tell old boardgamers that Tiller has come up with a game engine
that we had all been praying for.
it is as if he has told the computer to put together a great series
of battles, avoid what gamers hated - such as ridiculously strict
and ultra realistic limitations - and worked out a fine balance
between regulated play and real-life likelihoods.
are more than 100 scenarios to lose yourself in, as well as a campaign
mode where a player conducts the entire Russian adventure and gets
to make all the significant decisions that will decide between victory
and tragedy. The game also has a scenario editor.
the major battles are included and my choice to test the game was
the Maloyaroslavets scenario. I got off to a Marshal Ney-like start
- that is slow - as without a manual it took a wee while to get
the hang of the controls. But it came to me fairly quickly and then
it was time to really get stuck in.
is an interesting one to fight - it certainly caught my imagination
- as the French desperately need to break through.
in the computer battle, it has to be said (with extreme modesty),
the French forces were led by a brilliant tactician who quickly
split the Russians and destroyed them utterly.
sound is very good and there is a fine selection of period music
you can listen to while you are whipping the enemy.
are four levels of view from 3D to satellite, although I found the
two most used views were using hotkeys 1 and 4 - the 3D and the
bird's eye view.
definitely looking forward to playing Tiller's Campaign Eckmuhl.