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I see that Civilization IV will soon be released, featuring the voice of Leonard Nimoy. Wooo. I'm so impressed. [/sarcasm]. Big-name actor chrome aside, it looks like Firaxis put some serious effort into making the game easier to play against live opponents online and in LAN environments, which is nice to see, but on the downside (from my perspective) it looks like they kept a lot of the time-wasting stuff from Civ III such as workers. I dunno...I am planning on picking up a copy of Civ3 in the near future, now that you can get a copy of the game and all its add-ons for about $15, and maybe my irritation with those features will go away after I become more familiar with how they work.

This game was being advertised at IGN.com when I went to look at the Civ IV review, and as I'm a big fan of contemporary military sims I had to take a look. Well. Shattered Union looks interesting enough, positing a second Civil War in the wake of a contentious national election and the nuking of the Federal government, though it worries me that the game will be available for the XBox and PC - judging from the various options available, it strikes me that the game might be too complicated for the XBox and too dumb for the PC, but that might be just my prejudice toward the PC. The reviewers at IGN clearly like the game, but then I trust online game reviewers about as much as I trust game magazine reviewers, which is to say not one damn bit. What I'm afraid of is that this is the 21st century version of Dixie, except with flashy CGI battle scenes and modifiable terrain. We'll see, I guess; I'm certainly not going to run right out and buy a copy of this thing until I actually see it played or hear from people who have.

Of course, the really cool thing about Shattered Union is the possibility that PopTop will do follow-ons that allow other alt-hist Civil Wars set in the 1890s, World War One, and the 1930s/1940s. M3 Grants versus Somuas or A13s on the Great Plains, anyone?

UPDATE: Oh, man, this game sounds like it's going to make Electrolux rethink its slogan.

Judging from the player reviews at Gamespot and Team XBox, this game is more kinds of lame than I can possibly describe in my remaining 90 minutes at work. The game design clearly owes more to action games designed for button-mashing twitch junkies than it does to any kind of RTS that makes you think for more than 90 seconds. It has arbitrary limits on unit numbers, brain-dead decisions about OB, resources scattered around the map like medpaks in a Quake game...oh, man, it was actually painful to read the reviews by gamers who thought this was a GOOD game. I mean, WTF kind of lame research would saddle players with infantry units but no APCs (or even TRUCKS or goddamn BUSES, for the love of Christ!) to move them with? The kind that summons up "partisan" units riding in Cadillacs for the Confederacy. I shit you not. OMFG, Call To Power was a better simulation of strategic combat than this game appears to be. There is a nod to logistics requirements, in that units do burn gas which has to be replaced, but the economic underpinnings of the game are just laughable, and the politics are not much better. I mean...Utah part of the California Coalition?
The European Union wanting the US reunited? You can excuse some of this stuff as the result of conscious decisions rooted in the future history chosen for this game, or the need to keep things simple so that the game is fast-moving, but God almighty, there is more cheap chrome on this game than you'd find on a '62 Plymouth. Unfortunately, I don't think this particular model is built well enough to last for more than a couple trips around the block.

Would it have been so hard for them to get a copy of Invasion America or China War and tweak that for the XBox?