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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

The graphics in the game are also a pleasure to behold, but are not on the same level as the game engine itself. While the game offers great viewpoints, the overall graphics themselves remain only slightly above average. I am sure this is a result of the tremendous technical range of the game, for the details given to the historical units and their placement on the battlefields of Manassas is flawless. Given the units have been placed with care, and that you can zoom from a single-person perspective to an Army-wide view, it is obvious the graphics at the finest detail are a compromise for playability. However, having said that, the game could be improved to some degree with more attention given to ambient images of wildlife and its environs. Birds flying by and the sighting of an occasional deer or bear could add immensely to the overall graphic realism of the heavily wooded battlefield. Also, as the makers of the game had spoiled me silly with expectation, I would have enjoyed seeing faithful uniform renditions of the many Zuoave units (brightly colored infantry units employed as shock-infantry) that were present on both sides of the battle.

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Note the detailed scenery and splendidly accurate topography. Standing Tall with the 25th Ohio Regiment.

The historical and technical accuracy of the game is the easiest area to judge and the game truly excels in this area. This is absolutely the one area which must be correct above all others, particularly given the number of Civil War history buffs and re-enactors out there waiting to pounce on any historical inaccuracy (no laughting matter, as some of these chaps still haven’t gotten the word about Appomattox Courthouse!). Defending yourself against these types has never been pleasant and it is obvious the team at Mad Minute Games has taken the history of this battle very seriously.

However, that makes it all the more curious to me why the game developers did not give as much care to an area of the game which could have been much better: the sound. Yes, the soundtrack in the background is a historic martial piece, and the battle sounds are solid. Given that the combatants of the American Civil War were, as capably shown by Ken Burns in his PBS series on the war, incredibly literate and extraordinarily inclined to write about their experiences during the War, it seems criminal there are neither voice-over segments nor any spoken narratives to accompany the text in the game. Again, it may be harsh grading, but given the way it can enhance any game, it seems unfortunate this game is merely pedestrian in this regard.

Virginia’s Cavalry Squadron’s 1 and 2 Moving to the Fore.

So, overall, how good is Paradox Interactives’ Take Command: Second Manassas? In a word- outstanding! The modest improvements to what was already a modern classic game system has made this a must-have sequel which is still different enough from the first game to justify an immediate purchase. Is it better than the first? I am not sure, given that game’s impact. I do feel this game is an improvement and is, therefore, one of the best games currently available. All of which brings me full circle to my impending domestic demise. Yes, this game may be the death of my marriage. The piled up dishes in front of the computer, the midnight rounds of combat, the bleary-eyed mornings following particularly heated charges…well, they have placed an unfair burden on my marriage and I am sorry. Sorry, that is, that I ever taught my wife- er, Mrs. Stonewall, how to play the darned game. Thanks a lot, Guys! Now, maybe you wise guys can tell me how to avert this most Domestic Civil War?

Armchair General’s Rating: 87%

54/60—Gameplay
17/20—Graphics
06/10—Sound
10/10—Documentation and Technical

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1 Comment

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

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