Civil War Collection is a superb compilation that includes Sid Meier's Gettysburg! and Sid Meier's Antietam!, two excellent real-time wargames from a master of the strategy genre – along with South Mountain, an additional eight-scenario campaign not sold in stores (but that was available as a download for those who purchased Antietam!). The usually thorough review at Wargamer.com says it all: |
"What Meier did for Gettysburg, with its real-time action, bold animations and brash sounds, he did again in Antietam. Although Meier tweaked the game engine a bit and added even more scenarios than were available in Gettysburg, for some reason in both Antietam and South Mountain he left out the dramatic linkages that really brought Gettysburg to life.
In Gettysburg, a gamer could choose to play the campaign as a series of scenarios. At the start of each scenario animations of actors portraying the historical generals would point to the map, show you your objective and sometimes offer you options (like taking charge of extra units at a point penalty, or declining to attack Culp's Hill or switching the third day's fight from an assault on that little copse of trees to a wide flanking movement). Where you fought, what you fought with and what options you had were based on how well you did in the previous scenario. Each scenario, win or lose, brought the gamer one step closer to victory or defeat.
That masterstroke is missing from Antietam and its sequel. (South Mountain is a sequel game to Antietam, even though historically it was a prequel event to that battle). On the positive side, the player has an opportunity to fight the whole battle of Antietam on a single, if huge and unwieldy map, an option that was not given in Gettysburg. South Mountain also has the "big map" option, but again the human touch, the "you are there" interaction of Gettysburg is missing.
All three games provide players with many, many scenarios, and many variations of those scenarios. Players can also choose a random scenario fought with variable-size forces on selected parts of the battlefield presented in the games. The computer can take either side, and players can choose not only the level of competency and aggressiveness of their computer opponent, but whether historical or "what if" events, forces and leaders govern what units are brought into play. Many of the scenarios, especially the smaller ones, can be played in less than thirty minutes. Game speed can be toggled from slow to turbo (the designer's term). The view can be zoomed out to encompass a broad aerial view of tiny colored pinpoints moving about a map or zoomed down so close that the individual soldiers and their motions can be discerned. If a player wants to see men loading and firing, watch flags flutter and view soldiers fall, then the tightest zoom shot will fulfill that wish.
While there are several very good Civil War games out there (SSI's Age of Rifles is a particular favorite of this reviewer), Meier's games are the most active, most animated, and, in the opinion of this writer, the most likely to fulfill that Faulknerian dream so vital to Civil War gamers."
Reviewed by: Underdogs