Old Gamers Never Die: A Quick Look at ‘Ultimate General: Civil War’

(C) 2017 Game-Labs

Even though I spend most of my days here in New Hometown, Florida writing (whether it’s on my two blogs or other projects), sometimes I like to kick back and relax with a good computer game…or two…or three. And even though I do like space-fantasy games such as Star Wars: Rebellion or Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3-D, my main gaming focus is on war games and military-themed simulations.

I tend to favor games that are set during World War II or later; when I started playing simulations or map-based war games, I started out with such titles as NATO Commander, Crusade in Europe, Silent Service and its sequel, Silent Service II, and the three games in the  F-15 Strike Eagle series. The games ranged from theater-level strategy games to tactical/individual plane/submarine/armored fighting vehicle simulators. And because I owned my first computer during the last few years of the Cold War, many of the titles I had in my game collection dealt with U.S. vs. the USSR conflict.

As a result, I have not really gone out of my way to acquire any games that portray wars that took place before World War II. I’ve never played any games that depict World War I, and until I bought Game-Labs’ Ultimate General: Civil War earlier this week for a reasonable $29.99, the only game about the bloodiest war in American history that I owned and played was Sierra On-Line’s Grant, Lee, Sherman: Civil War Generals 2.

First released in Steam Early Access on November 16, 2016 and fully released on July 14, 2017, Ultimate General: Civil War is a tactical-level war game that allows a player to recreate most of the major Civil War battles that were fought between the Union and the Confederate States of America between 1861 and 1865.

Here’s what the designers of Ultimate General: Civil War have to say about their creation.

From the Developers

Ultimate General: Civil War is a tactical real time strategy war-game,
immersing players into the bloodiest period of U.S. history,
the American Civil War 1861-1865.

Choose your side, build your army and progress
through multiple historical and speculative battles.
Unite the house divided!

Main Features

Full campaign

Fight in the American Civil War campaign and participate in 50+ battles, from small engagements to massive battles that can last several days over hundreds of square miles of terrain. Campaign fully depends on player actions and battle results. Historical battles can be also played separately.

The game includes the following battles in the campaign:

  • Battle of Aquia Creek
  • Battle of Philippi
  • 1st Battle of Bull Run
  • Battle of Shiloh
  • Battle of Gaines’ Mill
  • Battle of Malvern Hill
  • 2nd Battle of Bull Run
  • Battle of Antietam
  • Battle of Fredericksburg
  • Battle of Stones River
  • Battle of Chancellorsville
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Battle of Chickamauga
  • Battle of Cold Harbor
  • Battle of Richmond
  • Battle of Washington
  • + 48 smaller scale battles

First Impressions

 

I found out about Ultimate General: Civil War when I started watching a playthrough series of videos by a YouTuber who goes by the handle of The Historical Gamer. His hobby, if you haven’t guessed, is playing history-based and military-themed computer games, recording livestreams on his Twitch channel, and he obviously has enough of a following to be what you might call an “influencer.”

I usually watch The Historical Gamer (or THG) purely for entertainment only; he plays a lot of expensive, complicated games, and there are some (like Suzerain or Panzer General II) that I would never buy or play. However, watching his “Let’s Play” series about Strategic Command WWII: World at War, Cold Waters, and Armored Brigade influenced my decision to buy those games. And that was the case with Ultimate General: Civil War.

I’ve only owned Ultimate General: Civil War for all of two days, so this is not going to be a review or even a detailed overview of the game. I just want to make a few comments about my initial experiences with Ultimate General: Civil War.

In Campaign mode, you earn awards and promotions.. (C) 2016 Game-Labs

The first thing I noticed is that the game is beautifully designed and rendered. It’s not a traditional “map and symbols war game; it’s more like a mix of three-dimensional tabletop diorama and animation.

Again, I refer you to what the fine folks at Game-Labs (whose design team is mostly Russian) have to say about their creation:

Terrain matters

Trenches, lines, fences, houses, fields – everything can help to achieve victory, if you know how to use it. Hills will allow you to see enemy units earlier. Rivers and bridges can become natural obstacles that will help you to defend. Forests can help you hide your movements and flank the enemy.

Beautiful maps

We believe that modern technology allows hardcore war-games to finally stop being brown on green hexes. Hardcore, deep war games can be beautiful. In our game, every historical battle landscape is accurately hand-drawn, utilizing data from satellite and historical maps. The topography plays immense strategic role and helps to understand how battles were fought and to learn history. – Ultimate General: Civil War website

I can’t say that I am general officer material just yet; I am in the “learn the basics of the game” stage and not in a position to say I’ve won a lot of battles. I can say that I know how to maneuver my units around the battlefield and give them orders well enough so that the artificial intelligence (AI) does not hand me my head on a silver platter on the first battle.

Perhaps this is because I watched a few of The Historical Gamer’s “Let’s Play” series videos about Ultimate General: Civil War, but I managed to achieve a draw at the First Battle of Bull Run as the Union commander. I still have to play a few more sessions before I can win a battle outright, but so far I have played First Bull Run three times, and each time I perform just a bit better.

I’m not a Civil War buff. Well, I am interested in it, just not as much as buffs who know what Robert E. Lee ate for breakfast at the Battle of Gettysburg. But I have watched (and rewatched!) Ken Burns” The Civil War several times and have also read a few good books about the war, so I am enjoying this game immensely.

Source: Ultimate General; Civil War

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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