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American Conquest: Divided Nation First Impressions

The American Civil War and the Texas War for Independence are the settings of this historically based real-time strategy game.


American Conquest: Divided Nation is a game that should appeal to Civil War buffs everywhere, not to mention Texans. This sequel to 2003's real-time strategy game moves the action forward in time, from the Revolutionary War setting of the first game to the American Civil War and the Texas War for Independence. We recently got our first look at this sequel to see what's new in the series.

The Civil War is the subject of the newest American Conquest game.
The Civil War is the subject of the newest American Conquest game.

It may seem a bit ironic that an American Civil War game is being developed in Europe of all places, but in a way it makes sense. Divided Nation will use an enhanced version of the American Conquest engine, which was developed by Russia's GSC Game World. Various forms of the engine have powered a number of successful Napoleonic War games, and Napoleonic battles are similar in tactics and appearance to those seen in the American Civil War. However, the developer of the original American Conquest is out, and publisher CDV Software has brought on a new team for Divided Nations.

Though there's a new developer on the case, we're told to expect many of the features that made American Conquest a well-made strategy game. Expect between eight or nine campaigns that cover the key battles of the Civil War. Smaller campaigns will also follow the careers of notable military leaders, such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Ulysses S. Grant. There will be traditional real-time strategy battles that will require you to construct bases, research technologies, and raise huge armies, as well as more-historical, set-piece battles where you don't build anything, but rather, you start with a predetermined force and have to carry through to victory. That should appeal to both the RTS fans in the audience, as well as the more traditional wargamers or Civil War reenactors. And, of course, you will be able to play from the perspective of either the USA or the CSA in the Civil War campaigns, and you can play as either the Texans or the Mexicans in the Texas campaign.

One of the benefits of reusing the 2D graphics engine of the series is that it's capable of rendering huge battles with up to 30,000 soldiers, which should capture the scale of the larger battles of the war. Once again, your men march and fight in formations, and you can select from different formations depending on the tactical situation. The game models morale, so men don't fight to the death, but rather, they behave realistically and flee when they suffer too many losses. You can bolster their morale by adding specialized units, such as drummers and flag bearers, but the name of the game is maneuvering your men so that they can bring their firepower to bear effectively on the enemy, while at the same time protecting your flanks.

The maps are designed using topographical maps from the era.
The maps are designed using topographical maps from the era.

All the battlefields are being designed using topographical maps of the era, so they should resemble what the actual battlefields looked like in the 1860s. As noted earlier, the game engine is similar to the one seen in the Cossacks games, as well as the previous American Conquest. It may seem like a throwback to the old 2D graphics days, but considering the 19th-century subject matter of the game, it feels appropriate. Moreover, most wargamers tend to have older systems, so Divided Nation will appeal to that crowd as well. There will be multiplayer that will let you go head-to-head against a fellow human being, though details are still a bit scarce.

Divided Nation is currently about 20 percent complete, but with most of the gameplay mechanics nailed down, all that's really left at this point is building content and polishing the game. With that said, CDV is looking to wrap up development of the game by year's end.

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