Battles in Italy Review
Battles in Italy uses the Decisive Battles of World War II engine to provide war gamers with a chance to recreate the Allied invasion of Italy. The invasions of Anzio, Salerno, and Sicily are all included, so you can try to recreate the Allied successes or change history by pushing the invasion back into the sea as the Axis.
Battles in Italy is a traditional war game in that it sticks closely to the turn-based chit and hexagon style of play established years ago by board-based war games. All orders are given to units in turns, with play alternating between the two sides. Once a player has completed his/her actions for the turn, the turn is ended and the other player or computer gets to act. Youíre free to move your units in any order you wish, so you can try to exploit breakthroughs after creating gaps in the enemy line. Battles in Italy rewards players for taking a smart, combined arms approach to their attacks. Flanking attacks supported by artillery will yield far better results than trying to slug it out with frontal assaults.
The game departs from its board game roots in implementing the fog of war, leaving enemy units invisible until they are within the line of sight of one of your units. Because of this it is nice to see the inclusion of recon units in the game. You can take advantage of their higher mobility and longer sight range to reconnoiter the enemyís positions without committing your main units, but youíll still need to proceed with a degree of caution as recon units are a lot weaker than their frontline counterparts.
In addition to the troops on the ground, Battles in Italy provides naval units that can be used to hits enemy land units through bombardment. The role of the navy in the Italian campaign was not as direct as it was in Normandy, but it is good to see that it was not overlooked entirely.
The AI in the game makes for a competent opponent, and Allied players will appreciate how tough it was for the Allies to push the Germans out of Italyís mountainous terrain. Veteran war gamers are sure to enjoy the game and the challenge it presents, but Battles in Italy is not too accessible to newbies to the genre. There are tutorial missions available, but they require that you print out a PDF guide and keep it handy while working your way through the tutorial without any direct help or guidance from the game itself. The cluttered and slightly confusing interface also does not help matters, and even veteran players will need a little time to come up to speed with the gameís controls.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 80%. Battles in Italy provides veteran war gamers with a detailed and challenging look at the invasion of Italy, but itís not for the casual gamer.