The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American historybrother against brother, North against South. As the war continues to be recreated on computers around the world, one game that stands out among the rest in the genre is Interactive Magic's American Civil War. It pulls you out of the trenches and puts you in the chair of the Commander-in-Chief. If you prefer the big picture approach to military simulations, American Civil War is hard to beat.
American Civil War makes good use of the Windows interface. Pull-down menus, pop-up windows, and visual pushbuttons mean you rarely need to touch the keyboard. The Main Map screen, where you order your subordinates around, is a traditional 2-D, top-down view. Unit graphics are functional, but the terrain shows a little more color and style. Everything on the interface is accessible, although the inclusion of shortcut keys would help speed things up a bit.
The sound effects for American Civil War are average. Several tracks of CD-audio give you the opportunity to sing along with Battle Hymn of the Republic as you march on the enemy capital. On the other hand, the only other sound in the game is a canned sample of rifle combat. Following a half-hearted attempt at a tutorial, the manual provides a good number of useful details to keep in mind while you enjoy the music.
The gameplay is where American Civil War shines brightly. In this game's turn-based system, you give the orders and watch your generals obey or disobey or ignore you. As commander, you will probably change generals more often than most people change socks. You also have to maintain the political and economic infrastructure while making your military plans. On a positive note, the computer seems to have the same difficulty with his forces as you undoubtedly will.
American Civil War offers players a chance to run the war from the top. You make plans, give orders, and hope for the best. Good graphics, a good interface, and gameplay that keeps you coming back for more are this product's strengths. Overall, it's a winner.