It's getting to the point when the only war games I seem to get to review these days come from CCS. And, lo and behold, in trots The General, a Napoleonic strategy job which (at first glance) looks up to their usual standards.
You're the leader of the armies of a hypothetical European state, having to fend off an invading force much bigger than your own infantry and cavalry, and controlled by the computer. Luckily, though, the enemy has to come at you through a narrow valley, so the forces he will be able to throw against you at any one time will be roughly equivalent to your own.
Instead of using a scrolling map designer Ian Williams has tried to make things more realistic through the use of a telescope. When you want to see what's happening on the battlefield, you look through it and by focussing on various units around the valley you can get information on which units they are and their rough strength.Incidentally, this means that instead of a plan type map with square unit icons on, The General gives you a 'landscape' view, with troops on it appearing as little silhouettes.
There are, though, a number of problems. It's fine at first using your telescope to look at units, but unfortunately after a while it gets a tad tedious. You have to use the telescope to find out which unit is which before issuing any orders (unless you're giving general orders), and if you are firing you have to use it twice - once to check on your own unit, then to check on the identification number of the enemy's. What's more, by not being able to inspect your troops in close-up, you don't get any indication of the most important factor in the game - a unit's morale.
Neither does it help that the playing area is restricted to one screen wide and roughly half a screen deep - things get very confused. Admittedly, the designers intention was to recreate 'the fog of war'(the situation you get as the smoke of battle obscures the view through your telescope), but in doing so he has made the game more difficult to play.
Unfortunately, while The General is pretty simple once you've loaded it up and got going, it soon palls. You are only likely to retain any real interest in it if you're a Napoleonic military history buff. It's certainly an admirable attempt to recreate the reality of war but that doesn't, unfortunately, make it much fun to play.
Recreates the realism of Napoleonic war fairly well, but unfortunately lacks playability. Not of much interest to the majority of gameplayers.