Allied General is a true onscreen wargame in the Avalon Hill sense of the word, complete with hexes, zones of control, attack/defense factors, movement points, and stacked units. Players assume the role of an Allied or Axis commander in strategic-level WWII operations in three campaigns, which means Playstation owners can now experience desert clashes with Rommel's Afrika Korps forces; the expected Soviet and American operations in Europe; a number of hypothetical alternate-history campaigns (such as Winston Churchill's speculative and slightly wonko Operation Jupiter, a talked-but-never-walked invasion of Norway); and over 35 individual scenarios.
The term "Armchair General" was coined for this kind of game. Being a serious wargame effort, rather than an action title, Allied General is played in turns. The turn scheme means that each action must be carefully considered - Allied forces make the moves they can, attack viable targets, collect replacement forces, or perform other special functions. The process is then repeated with the Axis forces. Certain objectives, such as the capture of a city, or the destruction of a certain portion of the enemy, must sometimes be completed within a fixed number of turns - changing what might otherwise be tactically simple circumstances into deliberate, squinty-eyed races against time, deployment, terrain or - more likely - all of them combined.
Once each unit's attacks have been designated, the player is presented with generalized, close-up animations showing the results of combat in terms of actual losses - groups of infantry suddenly reduced by half, surface cruisers taking hits or dishing them out, and so on. Allied General can be played as a human-vs.-computer game (be prepared not to leave the house for days), or as a two-player contest. But the proposed two players should be reasonably patient and very determined - and not mind the inevitable, nasty bouts of waiting while the enemy player carefully plans and re-plans his moves.
Unfortunately, the combat animations are essentially worthless, a glaring flaw in an otherwise serious game. True wargames are known for their seriousness and depth (not their bells and whistles), and Allied General's minimal, choppy, fire-exchange-and-casualty affairs are worthy of an 8-bit system. Players will undoubtedly turn this feature off and quickly forget about it.
For the average gamer, the proposition of a wargame of this depth being translated to the consoles may be a little daunting. They may be better served with the upcoming Command & Conquer. However, those war-weary, hex-war veterans, who found some of MicroProse's PC titles just a tad slick or even thin, should find Allied General to be the right speed and weight.