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General, The

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Dmitri Gusarov



Copyright 1999, NewGame Software

The General is an excellent turn-based strategy game that plays like a souped-up version of Risk. In the game, you are a leader of a country on a fictional map, and along with other countries your vie for control of the map by attacking the other countries. You raise armies, buy generals (hence the name) etc. Generals can be fully customized on purchase, such as different levels of speed, training, grade etc. Skills can be learnt whilst studying, and theres even moral which drops with continual fighting which dramatically affects the success of your generals. Speed affects how much territory is captured by your general if he wins a battle (i.e. higher speed = more territory). Skills affect how good he actually is, the same with Grade. Age affects how quick his morale drops and the likelihood that he’ll die. Guards can be placed on border patrol or with the help of a general they can attack other countries (your general can also help the guards repel the attackers).

Not content with this, you can also research 6 broad topics which gradually improve your country, i.e. higher yield for crops, better military training, higher population increase, better and faster scientific research, etc. All of these things have a direct bearing on the game. Also, the computer countries have different AI sets; one country, for example may ply its trade in research and garner a huge population before unleashing a huge army, another may buy a general from the start and go on a rampage before the other countries are strong. Also, and heres the clever part: countries opinions of each other continually change, so if an aggressive county attacks a nearby county, the other computer countries around it may attack it in turn to destroy it before it goes for them. Theres even a small economic model too: you can buy and sell your grain to get additional food to plant (2 seeds come from every 1 seed planted). Your soldiers and scientists require wages, so it’s important to draw level with cash so that half your crop is sold to provide wages, etc.

The graphics, while few and far between (battles are text only and tend to be a bit boring, so it’s worth only skipping to the end to see the final outcome) are ok for a freeware game. The map is nicely pictured, a bit basic, comprising of the colors of the countries and their respective areas. The interface is easy to work and control, no clutter and very few confusing buttons. The help file is very informative, and gives a detailed guide to a good strategy to win. You can check your world standings by clicking on the graph icon and the game will plot your levels on many different criteria so you can see how you are doing and also potential threats – watch out for those ‘scientific’ countries – they’ll be dangerous later on in the game!

Overall, for its basicness (essentially a stripped down, and mildly improved Risk), The General is a fascinating and relatively hard game. My only gripe is that it may by too texty for many people to enjoy, and maybe the battles are a bit boring. Otherwise, the game is well worth a look for fans of Risk and turn-based games in general. Two thumbs up!

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