Pharsalus, Antietam, Austerlitz, Tannenberg four great battles taken straight from the pages of history. The War College gives you an opportunity to relive these moments from the past. As much a teaching tool as a game, War College allows you to go back in time and see what was and what might have been.
To capture the feel of the periods in which these four battles took place, Intergalactic Development put more than 20 minutes of original music on the CD. You get to hear it during the game ... but only if you have at least 87 megabytes of hard drive space available. (The minimal install leaves you on the battlefield with no music or sound.) Unless you've got disk space to burn, this is obviously a very serious shortcoming.
The quality of the graphics varies greatly throughout the game. The on-line documentation has hand-drawn pictures and maps that provide solid background detail on each battle something war historians will love. The terrain, while not hex-mapped, is realistic, especially the hills and water. But War College's units which after all, are what you'll spend most of your time looking at look as though they were designed five years ago. In all four battles, the symbols representing your troops consist of little more than thick lines, in all of two colors. At times, you may feel as if you are playing an incredibly complicated game of Pong. The one bright spot is the uUnit movement is smooth and intriguing; it reminds me of caterpillars on the prowl.
Despite the shortcomings in the sound and graphics department, War College does have a well-designed interface. Various options (change formation, attack, defend, etc.) pop up when you left-click on one of your units. Pull-down menus options allow you to change many of the combat modifiers to suit your tastes. Once you try it, it's easy to learn how to send men to their deaths with a couple of mouse clicks. What's not so easy is beating the computer, since it exhibits strong AI in all four scenarios.
The War College attempts to provide the wargame fan with a system that can recreate the greatest battles in historya good idea, but it needs more work. A simple user interface is hamstrung by low-quality graphics and mediocre sound. The War College is passable as a teaching tool or as a music CD, but falls short as a game.