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Reviewed: Sid Meier's Antietam!
Author: Chris Kim       Date: December 22nd 1999
Page: 2

With the huge success of his previous war game Gettysburg!, Sid Meier decided it was time to go in and develop a second war game and follow up to his blockbuster hit. Gettysburg! was raved as one of the best war games of its time with precise detail and excellent game mechanics for a war game and for good reason too. Gettysburg! was one of the first games to contain in-depth research and historically accurate gameplay combined with maps and locations of the real Gettysburg! war. In Meier's second rehash of another crucial battle during the Civil War, Antietam! delivers big in the same way its predecessor did and some more.

As with Gettysburg!, Antietam! is also completely based on accurate and real research and facts about the real battles that occurred at Antietam. If many of you will recall, Antietam has been hailed by many as the bloodiest day in American history, the bloodshed lasted for several hours with many, many deaths and massive losses to both the Confederate and Union sides. All of the important facts and truths about Antietam have been painstakingly recreated and implemented in Antietam! with good success.

Forces on the Move
Battle Starts
Charge!

Playing Antietam! feels quite similar to playing Gettysburg!, as it rightfully should. Antietam! mainly is just a sequel to Gettysburg! with the gradual improvement of technology and improved gameplay elements. Some of the improved features are: new terrain, easy to use interface, AI enhancements, and gameplay enhancements based on request of Gettysburg! fans. These enhancements do improve the game slightly, but no noticeable changes will be felt.

Gameplay for the most part remains completely unchanged and maintains the same feeling. The same move your units to this spot, maintain control of this landmark for however long until the timer runs out. Simple enough right? Nope, it is not as easy as it sounds. With a combination of several regiments and brigades, the war favor can shift just as fast as a flash of lighting. Players can choose whom to control, either the Confederate or Union side. Neither side has any distinct advantages, as the Confederates have better leadership while the Union has better supplies and support. The gameplay is pretty intense and involving throughout most of the game.

Winners of the Battle
Prior to Battle
Move Out

As expected, Antietam! is played in real time. Movement of brigades and regiments is quite easy and painless. The player simply needs to click on the brigade or regiment and drag the cursor over to where the desired location is. Confrontations and battles occur automatically when necessary. This makes management on the player much easier. The computer will know when to automatically draw players in and out of situations; automatic retreating and falling back is one of the nice enhancements made in the game. Because Antietam! was a single day war, it takes place in a one full day scenario of a nearly ten hour battle starting early in the day to the end of the night. This process can get pretty difficult, especially if balance and management of units is off whack.

During the course of the battle, reinforcements and extra artillery/infantry will be available to use. Not all units are available to use when the battle first starts. Several commanders will have patrol and command over several brigades, but several other brigades will not be available to use until later in the scenario, some will not even be free until very late in the scenario, perhaps late after dark.

Wall of Fire
Tough Time in the Forest
Guided Pileup

Scenario designs and the way each of them are designed are also done very well. Each of the scenarios can be played individually broken down into the first sequences of the battle, or the full battle can be played at once. Because the full battle rages on for a good ten hours of real time battle, many will find that the single, broken down battles of the war more approachable and playable. One of the major downfalls of Antietam!, however, lie in the fact that the game cannot be saved during the middle of a battle, so the game must be played straight through the full length of the battle. One really nice feature of the campaign, is the new random scenario generator that allows the game to add some replay value, but one minor problem with the generator is that the campaigns sometimes turn out to be nearly exact replicas of other campaigns and each of the random generated scenarios.

Also in the game are several more terrain and artillery/infantry types. Some of the new terrain includes: plowed fields, bridges, fords, sunken roads, and stubble fields. While this terrain doesn't directly effect the game itself, the added terrain does help the feel of the game. The Antietam Creek, also in the game, plays a major role in the geography of the game, the players will have to deal with it and work around it, thus making progress a bit more difficult.

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Added:  Wednesday, December 22, 1999
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 2/5

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