Take Command: 2nd Manassas Review

If youíre interested in Take Command: Second Manassas, and since youíre reading this review I assume that you are, the first thing that you need to know is that this is not a Total War type of game set in the Civil War. It is more of a real-time war game than a real-time strategy game and the pace of the game reflects this. RTS fans used to fast-paced click-fests will be put off by the time it can take to get a unit in the right formation and then plod their way down a road across a sprawling map just to meet the enemy. On the other hand, war gamers will appreciate the gameís attention to detail with respect to the weapons, tactics, and command structure used by the armies of the Civil Way. Your ultimate enjoyment of the game will be directly related to which of these two camps you belong.

As the title suggests, Take Command: Second Manassas focuses on the 1862 battle also known as the Second Battle of Bull Run. You can choose to recreate smaller portions of the battle through the gameís 18 scenarios or use the open mode to recreate larger portions of the battle or design your own custom engagements.

Take Command is primarily a game of getting your troops to the right place at the right time. Maneuver and positioning are critical to victory as you need to bring as many of your inaccurate weapons to bear from the right locations while preventing your enemy from doing the same. This may seem like a daunting task in the larger battles, and to a certain extent it is, but the game makes it easier to manage thanks to its clean interface and excellent AI. The interface will be the most familiar aspect of the game to RTS gamers as the game makes use of the RTS standard control panel along the bottom portion of the screen. You can select a unit by clicking it on the main screen, selecting formation and marching orders from the panel, and then selecting its destination or target with another click on the main screen. The AI is there to prevent you from having to constantly do this for every one of your units, though. Units smartly respond to enemy fire, automatically changing to line formation if needed and adjusting their facing to bring the most firepower to bear. You wonít have to worry about a neglected unit being torn to shreds and can concentrate instead on your overall battle strategy. Speaking of AI, it cuts both ways in the game and will provide you with a more than adequate challenge. It understands the nuances of 19th Century warfare and youíll need to stay on your toes if you donít want to see your troops bolting from the field of battle en mass.

The game has a 3D graphics engine that will certainly please war gamers as they are used to having to deal with crude graphics in most of their games. The game supports a user movable camera, but in most cases youíll leave it at a pretty high level view. Besides making it easier to command your troops the game also looks best in this view. When zoomed in all the way the graphics start to break down a bit and soldiers appear very blurry and environmental details go either the blurry or blocky route. When pulled back though the game does give a nice view of the Northern Virginia countryside as it must have appeared in the 1860s. The sounds in the game are surprisingly good with ambient sounds such as the rhythmic hum of cicadas or the call of birds giving way to the cacophony of gunfire. The game makes full use of 3D audio, so if a cavalry charge is coming from your right youíll hear it from your right speakers before you see the riders.

Overall, Take Command: Manassas will not appeal to the mainstream strategy gamer looking for a Rome: Total War style game. War gamers without an uncompromising bias towards turn-based play and real-time strategy fans looking for a more realistic depiction of battlefield strategy and tactics should definitely give the game a look. It may play at a slower pace than most games, but it will be time well spent.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 80%.  An excellent strategy game for anyone with an interest in the Civil War.


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