Gary Grigbsy's World At War

Gary Grigsby's World At War

Gary Grigsby's World At War

Rush the Russians, bounce the Czechs, finish the Finnish.

Three phrases guaranteed to chill the marrow of the journeyman games reviewer: 'It's a lot like Falcon 4.0 apparently', 'It's Derek Smart's latest space simulation' and 'Gary Grigsby had a hand in this'. GG's past output - hardcore wargames like War In Russia and Uncommon Valour - are some of the most complicated, labour-intensive PC strategy games ever inflicted on the gaming public. With that in mind, World at War is rather a pleasant surprise.

Rather than overwhelming aspiring Churchills and Stalins with mountains of unit counters, screens of stats and reams of obscure rules, this grand-strategic recreation of WW2 takes a relatively friendly approach. For game purposes the globe is portioned into a patchwork of 364 regions and time is bundled into manageable three-month turns. Units representing armies, fleets or air-groups are constructed and supplied by factories that rely on a single generic resource (found in specific regions) to function. Simple sensible concepts elegantly implemented; so far so good.

The risk with abstraction like this is that you take the simplification a step too far and wind-up with a play experience that's colourless, unsubtle and short of historical resonance. In at least a couple of areas GG and 2 by 3 Games tumble into this trap. By failing to model diplomacy in even its most rudimentary form, the developers rule-out many fascinating WW2 'what-ifs'. By representing research and development in a chronically unimaginative way (produce research points then spend them boosting the attributes of generic infantry units, tanks etcetera) they strip much of the pleasure and colour from technological progress.

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