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Posted on May 20, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Take Command 2nd Manassas – Game Review (PC)

By Bryce T. Valentine

intro.jpgLet’s consider this fair warning to the guys at Paradox Interactive- my wife has about had it with you. You have done it to me again. To be married to a wargame aficionado can be a precarious thing. Immediately after the release of a particularly sound and well-considered strategic simulation, such as this second installment in the Paradox Interactive Take Command series, strange changes take place in my home. The kids may seem a little neglected, the laundry may pile up, and the house may ring again with the sounds of cannon-fire at 3 a.m. But enough about my impending appearance in domestic court – let’s talk about the good news; namely, this game rocks!

The folks at Mad-Minute Games have unleashed a monster sequel to the immensely satisfying first installment of the series, Take Command: The First Battle of Bull Run. That release was rightly greeted with nearly universal acclaim. The expectations were running very high among its devotees as to whether the second in the series would be offer a qualitative leap forward for the genre or if it would come up short. The answer is that while it may have narrowly fallen short of the escalating standards of its own fan base, it has enough subtle improvements in the essential categories of game play, graphic presentations, historical documentation, and sound, to be considered a very solid success. Or to borrow from the phraseology of Baseball, I think it is less a spectacular homerun than a base clearing, stand-up double. This is still a very satisfying way to score a run and, furthermore, I am sure that Major General Abner Doubleday, who is found in this game, would appreciate the observation.


Batter Up! Moving out with Brg. Gen. Abner Doubleday. Can you say, "President Pope for 1864?"

Let’s start with an analysis of the gameplay. One of the true strengths of this title, and its predecessor, is the immensely satisfying gameplay. I have been playing Nineteenth Century war games for more years than I care to admit but I can certainly say this game offers one of the most satisfying battlefield environments I have ever encountered. It seems all too often there is a trade-off when choosing a game title. If it is a strategic-level game, expect the graphics to be clinical and antiseptic. If it is a tactical level game or first person shooter game, you tend to get better graphics delivered at the expense of realistic, or flexible, Artificial Intelligence. The beauty of this game is that it delivers both superior graphics and a first rate Artificial Intelligence for non-player units. It is a pleasure to be able to follow the actions of all of the battle participants, (and specifically legendary units of note, such as General Doubleday’s Division) from the third-person perspective of the smallest squad or individual leader, to the birds-eye view which can cover vast portions of the battlefield and show units at the Division and Corps level.

On great feature which is far more critical to the actual gameplay is the intuitive Unit Command structure. The system offered is brilliant; the ease of issuing quick and precise orders for unit travel and combat provides a level of control to the user that is among the best I have seen. The system blends point and click ease with the specific unit orders given to the armies of the Nineteenth Century to create a detailed and interactive command structure which faithfully recreates the real-time challenges of unit command during the Napoleonic Age. Indeed, the system is fluid and precise enough to allow for proper unit-facing and corrections, which was the most critical factor in that age of combat and remains the key to winning scenarios in these games. The AI in the game also scrupulously adjusts the facing of units not under player control so those units will not be decimated needlessly while your attention is riveted elsewhere. This game makes minor improvements on its already solid predecessor Take Command: The First Battle of Bull Run, placing it squarely at the top of its genre.


The Combat Unit Coordination has never been better in any CWG that I have ever played. Standing Tall with the 25th Ohio Regiment.

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1 Comment

  1. One of the BEST games I have ever played….