Gear up historians and history buffs, it is our time to shine!
This review is focusing on the strategy game Ultimate General: American Civil War brought to us by the good people at Game-Labs LLC. Here you take on the role of a Mexican-American War veteran fighting either for the Union or the Confederacy. Obviously, I chose the Union.
The back story of your character is pretty simple and straight forward but pretty important. You have a specific specialty and training from your days in the Mexican-American War. Tactician, Logistics or Strategist. These give you skill points in organization, reconnaissance, training and or logistics. Then you pick a military classification from Artillery, Infantry or Cavalry. This again will give you skill points in the above plus medicine. Then you’re given the choice of what you did after that war. Politics, business or staying in the army. Each has more skills, politics and economics will be new choices. The last choice is picking a side. Union for me.
You start as a colonel and your first battle is a must win or the game is over. As a union officer you have to secure Philippi in West Virginia. You start off with the superior numbers but that changes once the rebels are moved out of the town and begin a counterattack. This battle is much more difficult than I’d expect for a “tutorial” style opening. However, once this battle is complete you get to begin building your corps and divisions. After each battle you are given reputation points for a victory or draw, loss of points with a defeat, and money plus spoils of the battle.
You have a camp to recruit soldiers and officers, purchase arms, spend skill points and use your reputation points for favors. As your skill points grow, typical 1 point for every minor battle and 2 for the major battles, your talents grow. Added organization will let build a larger army, reconnaissance will allow you to see more enemy info prior to battles, medicine helps heal troops faster and logistics helps build your ammo supply. This is a key factor in many early battles as your battalions will run out of ammo fast until you develop your logistical score. Building the army is a fun process as you outfit your battalions with the best arms you can afford from rifles, swords, csnnons and small arms. Lots to choose from with different attributes and bonuses.
Once your army is ready and replenished as much as you can afford after each battle, then you head out to do it all again until the war is won…or lost.
For my take, this is a great historical strategy game that requires a lot of fast thinking and adapting. Your men will fight and act independently at times which can be frustrating but that’s where you come in. Your corps generals and you will provide morale boosts. Also the supply will help them stay heathy and loaded. Still, in the course of the battle you might have troops retreat but in most cases it temporary and they can regroup and attack again. It’s about lessons learned and adapting to the environment.
One of the best parts of this game is the chance to rewrite history but from a realistic stand point. Fans of alternative history novels will enjoy this but this is nothing like giving modern weapons to 19th century soldiers. This is the Union winning a battle it lost. Such as in my play-through, the Union won the first battle of Bull Run. In real life the Confederacy won. However, the course of the war isn’t changed too much. Though, I decimated the Confederacy during the Peninsula Campaign, McClellan still pulled his forces and any ground gained was lost such as in real life. This is interesting because it would change the war but at the same time you might not get to play in the later battles. So this is an interesting feature.
While Ultimate General: American Civil War has many positives, the only real drawback is the cost to outfit an army gets tougher as the game goes on and this will impact your battles. However, as you play you learn the mechanics of moving your troops and this too can be adapted towards victory.
In all, I give Ultimate General: American Civil War 4.5 STARS of of 5!