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 amidst other countries you 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 giving them different levels of speed, training, grade etc. Skills can be learned while studying, and there’s even moral which drops with continual fighting dramatically affecting your rolls. Speed affects how much territory is captured by your general if he wins a battle. 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 attackers). |
If not content with this, you can also do research in six broad areas, which gradually improves your standing: higher yields 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 here’s 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. There’s even a small economic model too: you can buy and sell your grain to get additional food to plant for a net gain. 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" (it's 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!
Reviewed by: matt404