The Southern rebels met the Union army at Manassas, Virginia not once, but twice, and both meetings proved pivotal to the course of the Civil War. The first time, on July 21, 1861, gave us not only the first battle of the war, but also earned a relatively unproven artillery teacher named Thomas Jackson the soubriquet of Stonewall, as his forces held off repeated union assaults. The stunning violence of First Manassas, also known as First Bull Run, made clear that this was to be no short war, and that the rebels were a force to be reckoned with. The lesson was not apparently learned, since Robert E. Lee managed to defeat the Union army at Manassas again, from August 29-30, 1862, in a battle that would lead to the invasion of the North and, ultimately, to Gettysburg.
These two crucial battles are the focus of TalonSoft's Battleground 7: Bull Run. In the GameSpot review of , I went into some detail about the good and bad aspects of the Battleground system, so I won't repeat them here, since the engine, with one small exception, is unchanged. That exception is the calvary charge, which has been eliminated from Bull Run. Since a separate calvary charge phase is not only unnecessary but unduly cumbersome in a computer game, the system is better off without it.
Bull Run offers complete versions of the battles of First and Second Manassas, as well as Blackburn's Ford and Brawner's Mill, for a total of 22 historical and hypothetical Civil War scenarios. Blackburn's Ford is a good little starting battle, which portrays, with one variant version, the Union attack on a key bridge a few days before First Manassas. The first clash of Second Manassas is represented by a pair of Brawner's Farm scenarios, pitting Jackson again a Union division under King. Historically, this was a draw, and it's hard to claim any more than that in these versions.
First Manassas is represented by four variations, mostly in starting time (making for a shorter game in which the fighting starts faster) and unit release, along with a couple of versions of Jackson's "stone wall" defense. Second Manassas has two full-blown versions (again with different start times and unit release) and a series of smaller scenarios representing the thickest action, such as the attack on Jackson's position.
The superior depth in which these battles are rendered will overrule any qualms many gamers will have about system mechanics and game engine quirks.