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Review: History Channel: Bull Run

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Installation, setup and interface

As with most WinXP based games, installation is straightforward and simple. Installation is as simple as placing the CD into the CD Rom drive and letting the game install. The game fired up easily after install. The game also appears to be stable, running for several hours without a crash. I have yet to hear of any major complaints of game crashes or other difficulties from others who have the game.

The History Channel: Bull Run

System requirements are fairly steep for a ‘budget’ game but generally most game players shouldn’t have too much of a problem running the game. The game has a minimum of a 1 GHz PIII as a minimum requirement as well as a 64 Meg DX video card and 256 Megs of RAM. My system far surpasses these requirements, even the recommended specs, so I cannot comment on how the game runs on less than optimal systems.

Options for setting up the game appear to be relatively limited. You have the option to set the game up for low, medium or high settings but I haven’t found any way to change specific graphic levels or change the overall resolution levels. While the game runs fine at 1024/780, it would be nice, especially for those of us with larger monitors, to change the overall resolution — viewing the battlefield would be easier.

Controlling the game is achieved via a simple point and click interface along with several keystrokes that can control your troops or move them around the battlefield. In addition movement can be achieved via your mouse. In essence you will end up using all manners of control in the game to achieve your objectives.

The game comes with a multitude of single player scenarios along with the ‘grand campaign’ type of scenario where you get the opportunity to control the entire Grand Army of the Potomac or the Rebel Army (eventually to be called the Army of Northern Virginia). Commands range from as low as Brigade Commands all through Division and Corps level. Artillery command is also available for those who want to man the 6 inch Napoleons.

Most units are controlled via a combination of button clicks followed by map clicks. If you want your unit to move to a spot, you click on a button that corresponds to the action, then follow with a double click to the new position on the map where you want the unit. "Turning units", "fall back", "charge", "limber" and "unlimber cannon" are among the other activities selected by button clicks. The order buttons can be somewhat cryptic although you do have text bubbles appearing over each button displaying the commands.

Overall the interface looks much like similar real time strategy and wargames. It is laid out in the traditional manner with the action window encompassing the main part of the screen with the menu or list of command buttons beneath it. There is nothing in the interface that someone with a minimum of knowledge couldn’t figure out within a few hours.

The History Channel: Bull Run

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