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Burning Bridges takes a look at Ageod's Civil War 2

Burning Bridges takes a look at Ageod's Civil War 2

Preview - posted by Burning Bridges on Sun 8 September 2013, 07:31:28


"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it." Robert E. Lee

Civil War 2 is yet another game in Ageod's great line of historic strategy games, and the sequel to Ageod's American Civil War.

Since 2006, Ageod have produced a line of historic strategy games, which focus on military campaigns, historic realism, detailed orders of battle and challenging artificial intelligence. Previous games have covered a wide range of topics, from the American War of Independence, the Seven Years War, the American Civil War, the Russian Revolution and lately, the Roman Empire. Ageod uses a turn based "WEGO" system, in which both sides plan their turn simulaneously, which is resolved when both sides are ready. This has the advantage that you can take as much time as you want, and there is no need to undo moves.

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The way you start a new game has not changed. You first select one from the many grand campaigns or a short battle campaign, which can take you from one day to several weeks to complete. The campaign selection looks prettier and better organized. There seems to be a slightly expanded selection of campaigns, including a Mexico Campaign (not the Mexican War though), which is a nice windfall of the map expansions. The length of the campaigns ranges from 3 to 114 turns, and should be very similar to the first game.

Once the game has started, the first thing that catches the eye is a completely new graphics style. The precursor used classy hand painted art that resembles illustrations from Osprey Publishing. The new style is a bit more imaginative - and sometimes funny - but still realistic, detailed and very authentic to the period. For example some character portraits have unnatural "yellow" hair that exactly reminds me of illustrations I have seen in old books.

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The new style is consistent, very pleasing to the eye and a refreshing change from the old one. But it sometimes clashes with the more modern looking menus, with clean and often transparent backgrounds. Somehow I feel his could be greatly improved by a more "used" look. But overall the graphics are very good, even if some things could be different. A second thing I noticed is a slicker engine. The game seems to run a lot smoother, for example map scrolling feels noticeably improved. I checked this at maximum settings, so there seem to be optimizations under the hood.

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Compared to previous AGE games, the interface is also reorganized. Personally I liked some things better, and some things less than the original. For example options like special orders and posture are now in slide out menus, which makes screen space less cluttered. But on the other hand this may be more of a burden than a blessing because every time you slide out a menu is an extra click, which could increase the workload.

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The original recruitment and reinforcement system was replaced with the system from Revolution under Siege. This will please many players because it allows to place new units directly on the map where you want, whereas one of the problems of the original was the annoying "searching" for new units. But the old system had many advantages to it and I am still not convinced that it could not have been improved just as well. I found it perfect that you could select all units on a large screen, not the loophole on the bottom that we have now.

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The political and financial options are there again and now called decision mode. There are many new options on the provincial level. For example you can build roads, tracks and telegraph lines in many - but not all - provinces, or lay sea mines. It seems Ageod has made great efforts to make this part interesting and refreshing.

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Although the look has changed completely, most of the game and AI options are still the same. New options include automated replacements and an extended force pool, which can be adjusted to building ahistoric forces that could unbalance the game. But it's a good idea that this option is now available for people who want to play what-if campaigns, like the Confederacy completely conquering the North.

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Another new feature is scripts, which can be enabled from the main menu. There was no example script in the preview build, but it must be something that provides for modifications and special decisions like the Kentucky neutrality event.

Civil War 2 is a complete overhaul of a very polished, venerable game. The result looks like American Civil War and Pride Of Nations had a baby. And that's meant in a good way. Many new features from Pride of Nations have found their place in an elegant Civil War game, without the complexity that Ageod's juggernaut carries around. Another benefit is that this game builds on the very detailed and polished campaigns from AACW. It already seems to offer more content out of the box than the original ever had. Especially since Ageod have revamped and vastly enlarged the campaign map. The playable territory now extends far into the West up to the Rocky Mountains, North including New England and Boston, and South to Yucatan and Cuba. Compared to what we had in the first game, the map is now almost 4 times the size. As a result, Indians will play a greater role, and it's easy to envision Mexican War and Indian War themed expansions that should inevitably follow. Because the game has grown so much in scope, I also noted that turn resolution takes longer, quite simply because the engine now deals with 3 to 4 times as many provinces.

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For all Yankees and Confederates who loved the first game, Civil War 2 should be another Hurrah. If you are worrying about Ageod's plans to streamline the game, you can rest assured that Civil War 2 is still hundred percent an AGE game and you will quickly feel at home. It remains to be seen if all changes to the interface will receive unconditional love and attract new players, but they are certainly meant to improve the game.

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Of course, the devil is in the detail and our final verdict will have to wait until Ageod releases the game in a couple of weeks or months. I don't know the exact release plan, but the build already looked very advanced, and the exact release date will only be a question of how much more time Ageod will spend fine tuning it.

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