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Take Command: 2nd Manassas Review
game: Take Command: 2nd Manassas
four star
posted by: Sean Hilliard
publisher: Paradox Interactive
developer: Mad Minute Games
date posted: 10:06 AM Mon May 22nd, 2006
last revision: 10:05 AM Mon May 22nd, 2006

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Click to read.It seems to me that the real-time strategy genre as a whole is more equipped for the hardcore gamer. And by hardcore gamer, I don\'t mean the type that refers to people as noobs, but the kind that wears their Kid Icarus sweatshirt while taking in a quick game of Risk.

The GF! editor-type. The hardest of the hardcore.

Real-time strategy games can be pretty daunting to pick up and play, but once you get into them, it can be hard to play anything else without feeling like you\'re letting your inner nerd down. That\'s the way it was for me after just finishing dominating the world in Hearts of Iron II, so I was glad that I could pick up Take Command: 2nd Manassas and go to town on some no-good yankees. Yeah, that\'s the way this Pennsylvanian rolls.

For the history buffs out there, the term Manassas should already be ringing a bell. The rest of us are like, \"Manassas who?\" If you\'re more familiar with the theme song of Kid Icarus than you are with history, the battle of Manassas was considered by many to be the second Bull Run. Ironically enough, Take Command: Bull Run was the first game by Mad Minute Games, creators of Manassas. If you\'re not familiar with Bull Run, the Union side lost. Pretty badly. People thought the North was pretty much finished after that battle. And if you go by Mad Minutes, the battles of Manassas don\'t exactly paint a rosy picture of the Union either. Manassas was considered to be the second Bull Run because it was during this battle that Confederate General Robert E. Lee broke out of Richmond and almost defeated the Union army. Naturally, in the game, you get to whomp on Union troops throughout, even commanding losing battles according to how they historically played out.

In that regard, Take Command: 2nd Manassas gets it right. The presentation is great, and it is broken down into missions a la Warhammer 40,000:Dawn of War (which is my measuring stick in the world of RTS gaming) and you rarely have to stare at boring map screens.

Instead, the game\'s factions are displayed on the ground in battalions. There isn\'t as much micromanagement - meaning that the artificial intelligence can pick up the slack when you\'re slacking off. In fact, the AI is pretty spectacular. It works well in reproducing the chaos of the Civil War\'s battles. So, as a consequence, it can be hard to make precise maneuvering to take out the enemy at a key point. Fortunately, for a less-than expert war gamer like myself, that makes it easy to pick a workable strategy. The soldiers are kind of dumb in the game, much like the guy running things (me, in this case). It also doesn\'t make you feel like a loser at the end of a victorious mission. You can set things up, and then sit back and watch the computer do most of the job to a large extent.

However, it\'s likely the hardcore war-gamer whose virtues were described earlier in this review won\'t be happy with this. But never fear, since there\'s a lot of slower pacing involved with the game that allows the ubers to run things more completely. And speaking of slower pacing, the battles in this game are quite long. You could say meaty because there\'s a lot of substance here for the war-gamer, and battles can turn at any point. After all, it\'s war. It should be unpredictable, right?

The graphics aren\'t the greatest, but it doesn\'t look too bad. It\'s one of those glasses half-full or half-empty things. As I said earlier, it\'s way better than looking at a map, and there\'s a lot of dead bodies and stuff. It\'s not rated T for Teen for no reason.

2nd Manassas is pretty beefy. Content-wise, not gore wise, unfortunately. There are 18 missions, and then there\'s the open battle sandbox mode, which is the closest the game comes to having multiplayer. The battles in the sandbox mode can actually go against history; you could have the Union troops stomp General Lee all over Manassas if you want.

All in all, Take Command 2nd Manassas is fairly good as war games go. You won\'t confuse it with more mainstream RTS games, but it doesn\'t slip into the nether hardcore regions of map-controlled monstrosities. If you\'re a casual gamer looking to branch out into slightly more complex war games, then give Take Command 2nd Manassas a try, and if you\'re a war gamer, pick it up and go nuts, especially if you have an interest in the Civil War. However, other casual gamers shouldn\'t be afraid to stick to games like Civilization 4 and, of course, Warhammer 40,000: DOW. Unless you have an interest in the genre already, Take Command is probably not going to convert you.

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