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Scourge of War � Gettysburg Preview

Scourge of War � Gettysburg Preview

Preview - posted by Burning Bridges on Tue 16 March 2010, 04:58:20

Preview Scourge of War – Gettysburg

Burning Bridges
Developer: NorbSoftDev

[ NorbSoftDev is a new company founded by Norb Timpko. Previously Norb worked at Mad Minute Games, where together with Adam Bryant he had two Take Command games published: ‘Take Command : Civil War Bull Run’ and  ‘Take Command - 2nd Manassas’. ]

Take Command II, 3rd Manassas

Scourge of War – Gettysburg - the first game developed by a new team under the NorbSoftDev umbrella – is still a sequel to the Take Command series. People who know the Take Command series will instantly feel at home and discover that most of the features - if not all - are still there. But, running on the second-generation of the War3D gaming engine, it also brings many improvements, better graphics and an all-new multiplayer mode.

If you never played a Take Command game before: SOWGB could be described a “real-time tactical battlefield simulation of the Battle of Gettysburg”. Or, to quote the words of the developers, it's a ‘Real-Time Combat Simulator’ (RTCS).

'I'm sending messages to all commanders to come to this place with all possible speed. Lovely ground!'

Imagine a first generation Total War game (i.e. still with 2D sprites), but without  Grand Strategic mode and instead focusing exclusively on a single, large battle. I think comparisons between Total War and this system are valid, for in my opinion it demonstrates what could have become if the former had developed in a different direction, namely:

  • more focus on the tactics
  • less compromises with respect to realism
  • no restrictions to the number of units
  • much larger maps
  • an improved system for morale, fog of war and delayed orders

I think you get the picture. This is what a hardcore version of Total War would look like, set during the American Civil War, and without a grand strategic mode.

View over a larger part of the action, showing the scope of the battle

Like its predecessor, SOWGB features a unique chain of command system. You can play the game on exactly the level that suits you best, and are allowed to take command of everything from a single Regiment (a few hundred men) to full Corps (very large formations of 8.000 to 20.000 men). Commanding a Brigade is easy, a Division is already much harder, but Corps consists of such a huge number of units that commanding on this level poses special difficulties: you can jump directly into the shoes of Generals Lee or Meade, but don't expect it will be an easy job.

'Where are my men? I can't see my men!'

In order to overcome this, you can give orders on different levels (Regiment – Brigade – Division – Corps). For example, if you give a marching order to a Division commander, the AI will make sure they will be executed by all units under his command (it may even use roads to march to the destination). But you may as well micro-manage smaller units and tell a single regiment to lie down or wheel to one side. This way you should always be able - depending on the situation – to take control over the right formation, and the AI appears quite capable of executing commands like a real commander would.

The clickable map, serves to locate and select units.

Probably the most important novelty is the inclusion of Multiplayer. When I enquired which Multiplayer modes SOWGB will support, Norb told me the following: “Everyone gets to pick one commander on any side they want.  So it can be all cooperative if everyone picks the same side.  Brigade is the lowest level you can pick, so Brigades cannot be split.”  He also told me that the engine puts no hard limit to the numbers of players, apart from the obvious limits of what  works with the players network or internet connection.

So it can be played cooperatively and competitively, as well as combinations thereof. This sounds absolutely exciting.

Confederates on their way toward Little Round Top 

What to expect

Scourge of War - Gettysburg is running on a new engine, but it also still clearly bears the same handwriting as its predecessor.  I was surprised how similar everything feels to TC2M. This is not a criticism, more of an observation. Notably it has the advantage that previous customers will know exactly what they get.

The preview version left a very good impression. From what I have seen so far it even has the potential to be one of the most accurate American Civil War game ever made. I am particularly excited about the multiplayer feature, as it should be a completely new experience to replay the battle of Gettysburg together with friends.

According to the latest information SOWGB will be distributed online, in a way similar to how TaleWorlds distributed Mount & Blade. That means what you download is demo and full game at the same time. The full version is activated by a one time activation.  So you will only have to be connected to the internet to activate the game, after that you are playing the full version.

The full game is scheduled for a late March release. And although the beta still had a few of the usual rough edges I see no reason why they should not make that date.

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