Battle of Two Turn-Based Strategy Games: Civilization IV Versus Shattered Union Page 4

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Shattered Union

I had seen the advertisement for Shattered Union in PC Gamer magazine, so I checked out their web site. It looked like a great story, a great plan, and a semi-unique game. As I mentioned earlier, the screenshots appeared a little too “arcadish” for me, so I felt the game play would probably be “arcadish” as well. Then one of my favorite web sites, The WarGamer, made a mini-site about the game. I figured if they were going to dedicate a whole section too it, maybe I should check it out a little more in detail.

Shattered Union is the story of America being attacked by terrorists and the government collapsing. Seven different fractions of the union then declare their independence and begin to fight for control. Oh, and the European Union gets involved along with the Soviet Union. (Strange, usually it’s the US butting into everyone else’s affairs, this game turns the table.)

You can then play in a campaign mode that allows you to pick one of the “shattered unions” which include Pacifica, Great Plains, New England Alliance, California Commonwealth, The Republic of Texas, and The Confederacy. How many of you Southerners have wanted a game that would allow the “South to rise again”?

You then play on the overall map, moving into regions, and then entering individual land battles. You have to take over cities, land marks, factories and other places of importance. What I like about this game is NO BUILDING. You don’t have to build and produce units; you buy them before a battle then deploy them, so it’s all action. Nice tactical turn based action. I was completely surprised at the level of detail in this game, and what I mean by that is each unit has it’s typical movement, attack, and defense stat, but you also get a bonus for terrain, location, fuel, and special bonuses for certain units. You also get special powers that can only be used once in a few turns, similar to EA Games “Generals”. It’s on the left side of the screen. When you click it and point where you want the action. It could be a satellite view, a bonus to increase range or firepower to one unit, or an artillery barrage. You also have attack and bomber aircraft that you can call in or have them perform CAP functions. If you see enemy units flying overhead, you can call in your air units to intercept them. And one final thing — you can nuke an area. It isn’t really nice to the environment or cities and your reputation will suffer in-game. But it can be used in a last ditch effort to save your butt.

One major downside to this game is that you can’t form an alliance with other factions. The AI won’t decide to take on the more powerful military fraction right next to them, they prefer to go after you instead.

Besides the campaign mode that works in virtual days and weeks, Shattered Union also has a scrimmage mode that lets you simply pick a faction, pick a location, and buy units and battle. You can play against the AI, which really isn’t “that bad” in game. Multiplayer is also supported via LAN or Internet through Gamespy. It can only play scrimmage with others, and unfortunately no campaign or saving feature. It is nice to go head-to-head with a real person, because as usual with AI, you learn the patterns and programmed plans. A human can surprise you — and usually does. You think you’re winning, but your opponent just has more units hidden in the fog of war. You can win by total military defeat of your enemies, but you can also win by capturing a set group of cities, landmarks, and objects. I’ve only found two online games and neither was finished due to my surrendering and leaving in one game, and another player doing the same to me in the other game. But from what I’ve seen online play is simple. No building, but fun. I’m hoping to get more multiplayer action with this game before something else comes along.

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