Written by  :  Rambutaan (446)
Written on  :  Apr 25, 2008
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful

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Too complex for casual gamers, too easy for strategy buffs

The Good

The game's premise is an interesting one: A Second American Civil War gives the player the opportunity to play that what-if scenario where you get to pit modern U.S. (and European) military technology head to head in a campaign to conquer the United States. The mini cut-scenes that are played every so often help to immerse the player into the campaign.

The graphics aren't spectacular but definitely good enough and there's a high attention to detail as the player will see many U.S. landmarks, cities and towns throughout the campaign.

The interface is generally easy to use and it pretty much runs like a digital board game.

The Bad

The most annoying aspect of the game is the difficulty. I am no stranger to strategy games although admittedly I'm by no means an armchair general either, but after playing several times even on Easy mode, I was unable to make any real leeway in the game besides the first couple of battles. The way the game works is if you commit too many of your troops to a front, you are unable to use those troops for defence on another, allowing the enemy to take over territory without a fight sometimes. However, spreading your forces too thin also is a recipe for disaster. Worst of all, checking the AI scores after I lose and the winning team usually has zero or almost zero casualties! A true strategy buff (who is used to his/her WWII hex-based war games) will probably have an easy time playing this, but it perhaps wouldn't be as satisfying since it doesn't have as much detail as those style of games. So in the end by trying to cater for two crowds, the game becomes a jack of all trades, master of none.

Although the music is rather fitting for the game (patriotic American themed music) synthesisers are used to produce it. This isn't a major flaw but considering the excellent soundtracks that PopTop Software had on previous games (think Tropico and Railroad Tycoon 3) it is a bit disappointing.

Support is rather lacking for this game, considering the website hasn't been updated in a few years and 2K Games has no technical support. This was rather annoying when attempting to make the game work on my laptop since the requirements were more than enough to run the game (however the README that accompanied the game acknowledged that if a problem arose, a compromise could be made by running the game in a window, and fortunately that was easily done from the in-game options menu).

The Bottom Line

Shattered Union is like a light version of those WWII hex-based war games you see the armchair generals play. This particular one isn't WWII though and has you fighting for control over the United States in a second Civil War. The game suffers the drawbacks from this genre of gameplay (time-consuming turn-based combat) and unfortunately not excelling at what this genre usually does best (attention to detail, troop morale management, etc.) making the game average at best.