Making History II: The War of the World (Windows) First Impression
Publisher: Muzzy Lane
Release Date: Beta ends June 15th. Release June 22nd.
Supported OS: Windows XP with SP2, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 2 GHz Intel Pentium dual core or equivalent recommended
RAM: 2GB recommended
Video Card: 256 MB DirectX 9.0c-compliant, Shader 2.0-enabled video card
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive Space: 2 GB
Peripherals Supported: Windows-compliant keyboard and mouse
I received my beta code for Making History II in the middle of a busy day, but after all of the interest this title has been generating, I wanted to get a quick game of it in to get a feel for it. This, it turns out, was impossible. There is no such thing as a quick game of Making History II. An hour and a half only gave me the tiniest taste of the MH2 experience. Expect a follow up when the title is more complete.
We’ll start by saying that Making History II is a grand strategy game. That classification is important. Calling it a Turn Based Strategy game or a war game is like calling Archaeology a sandbox game. I’ll also mention that the version I’m playing is unfinished. New features and improvements will be added upto and beyond the launch date, so any statements I make could easily be obsolete by the time you are reading this. Consider this a disclaimer.
In terms of graphics, MH2 does not provide the player with breath taking, photo realistic visuals, and nor does it intend to. The game is played exclusively from a map view that would be at home in any war room in any movie you’ve ever seen. Cities and units are represented as reasonably detailed 3D models on the map. Every conceivable piece of information you might want to know about the world is available as an overlay on this map. You’ll be able to quickly assess things like stability, cultural makeup, political affiliation, and even weather simply by selecting the appropriate view. Animation is minimal, a marching soldier here or a cannon fire loop there. Nothing more than is necessary to indicate the current action of the unit. Arrows trace troop paths, simple explosion graphics imply battle sites. It sounds minimal, but it has to be, because you are literally looking at the whole world at once. Even with fog of war enabled the map would be hopelessly cluttered unless things were kept to the bare essentials visually.
MH2 is turn based strategy on the grandest possible scale. Budgets START in the billion dollar range. You manage everything from troop movements to political oversight of conquered countries. In the current version you are presented with three starting scenarios to choose from, ranging from 1933 to 1939. Choosing one provides you with a starting condition for your game that reflects the political climate and military build up of that time. You can play as literally ANY recognized nation that existed during that time. This led to me accidentally choosing Afghanistan simply because it was alphabetically first.
This being a beta, the lack of anything resembling a tutorial meant that I was left to my own devices to figure out how to play. After a few minutes I discovered that virtually all interactions are based upon selecting the unit or location and then either right clicking it or a target to get a context menu. Context menus let you move, attack, declare war, start research, start production, and virtually any other action. It is fairly intuitive, and lends itself well to the single screen play. Any detailed information is laid out neatly in popups and dropdowns, which quickly summarize the most relevant information or allow you to click through for further depth, and oh, there is depth.
This game doesn’t have a glossary, it has a literal encyclopedia. And you’ll need it, because upgrade options in the tech tree range include things like Autofrettage. The sheer scale and authenticity of the game means you could easily spend 20 minutes exhaustively researching the proper research path to devote your universities to, then another 20 minutes carefully setting patrols for troops, and another 20 minutes making selections about infrastructure before you end your first turn, only to find out that the air craft carrier research – not production, RESEARCH – won’t be done for 25 turns. If you devote the appropriate amount of time and thought to each turn, that means that with careful management you might see some carriers hit the water in 48 hours. Not game time, real time. This is not a quick in, quick out game. After trying US only to realize I’d have to cross the Atlantic to get my hands dirty, then the UK only to be stymied by the English Channel, I finally selected Germany just so I could declare war on Poland and get things rolling. Who won that first battle? I don’t know! The Battle of Wroclaw or whatever was still raging when I ran out of time and had to call it quits for the day. It is easy to see why features that allow the game to be played akin to a game of chess-by mail will be essential. A single multplayer game of MH2 will clock more playtime than most other full retail games.
I played the game on my work PC, which barely meets the minimum requirements, and for the most part it was playable, though the load times were a little hefty and the AI round brought my computer to its knees.
The audio at the moment consists mostly of a subtle orchestral sound track and SFX highlighting unit types, things like an aircraft engine revving for example. More may arrive as the game nears release, but really for the type of game this is, little more is necessary.
It is world war II, as played by you.
Making History II is not for everyone. Not by a long shot. The patience, intelligence, skill, and raw time required to do it justice mean that it, at least as presented, is well outside the realm of the casual player. It takes forever to do anything, it requires research, planning, and training to play effectively, and it is spectacularly information dense. The amount of depth and detail is downright bewildering, and the average gamer will tire quickly of the strictly business interface. None of these, though, can truly be counted against the game. They are essential for the game to achieve what it set out to be. They are GOOD things for the target player. MH2 is intended for, and in my estimation will only really appeal to, hard core war buffs. Aficionados of the highest caliber. However, if you are the type who never switches away from the Military Channel, if you have dreams of leading not just an army but a whole country, then there may be no other game that can satisfy your hunger. This game should seriously be considered an entrance exam to be Commander-in-chief, plain and simple. A niche game, to be sure, but one that fills its niche like no other could.
Learn more at: http://making-history.com/products/mhii