Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 07/16/02 | Genre: Strategy
Everyone who has ever watched the History Channel or paid attention to 7th grade Social Studies has some opinion on how World War 2 could have been won. Be it the Axis or the Allies, such a grand conflict was just ripe with human and technological error of which everyone has an astute opinion. Strategic Command gives every armchair general out there the chance to fight the battles of Europe from the invasion of Poland in 1939 to defending Germany from the D-Day assault in 1944. It is a complex game, which is not difficult to learn and enjoy.
Strategic Command: European Theatre is a grand strategy game. Instead of fighting battles on a person versus person basis, like Battlefield 1942, or unit versus unit, like Command and Conquer, it takes a look at the entire war from start to finish. The game is really from the eyes of high commanders who move entire army, corps and fleet elements. The grand plan of the war must be considered and thought out. I find this to be very enjoyable. For example, how does investing in better airplanes effect the war, and is it even worth the cost? Should I send units to seize Gibraltar, or just let allies harass Italy and North Africa?
The feel of the game is immense, and the opportunity to make mistakes just as high. It is all part of the fun though. Playing against a friend with "play by email", or pbem, has plenty of opportunity to catch a game with a friend who may not be online at the same time as you. It is slower, but works well in strategy games like this. This is the kind of game I have been waiting for since I learned to play WiF (World in Flames) with the maps that spanned rooms and thousand of chits. It has all of the detail and enjoyment of an old war-game in an easy to play package. I can have a game of Strategic Command underway by the time it would have taken to setup WiF
The graphics and sound are accomplished, and leave the system requirements low enough for about anyone's machine. On the same token, how fancy do the graphics have to be to support a war-game? This is something that may drive away anyone looking to push the envelope on their system, but the game's graphics and sounds are neat and clear. The games interface is well designed. It takes the guessing new player only a few seconds how to figure out units are bought, or how to make bombing runs on industrial centers.
To their credit, the game's AI can be pleasantly unpredictable. I can think of more than one situation where the computer maneuvered his units to exploit a flaw in my line. As my usual war-game test, I let another player try it out on my machine. If I return to find them either engrossed in the game, or not asking a million questions of frustrations than I am fairly certain any computer gamer can enjoy it. Strategic Command: European Theater is the chance the rest of us have been waiting for to put some of that historical knowledge to work, and explore every "what if" out there.