September 5, 2006
The Operational Art of War III
by Tom "WKLINK" Cofield
Ten years ago Talonsoft was among the princes of wargame creators. Names like Norm Koger and Gary Grisby made the company literally a household name among wargame fanatics. Games like 12 O’Clock High and the Battleground series brought the company both critical and financial success.
Among the better sellers in the Talonsoft line was Norm Koger’s Operational Art of War series. Considered one of the best theatre level wargames created, the initial version of the game spawned a second title covering a more modern era. A ‘gold’ version encompassing the first and second games, along with quite a few new scenarios rounded out what was a very successful line for the Talonsoft nameplate.
Alas times changed as did Talonsoft. Wargaming, such a big hit in the 80s and early 90s, suffered a serious decline in the late 90s. As games became more graphically intensive and more action oriented, the desire for turn based strategy games, a staple for Talonsoft, became less popular. Titles like Hidden and Dangerous and Age of Sail were deep and interesting but didn’t sell as well as hoped. Eventually the company was sold to Take 2 Interactive.
While the library of Talonsoft titles slowly ebbed from the catalogue of Take 2, there remained a following for the original Operational Art of War games. Web sites like The Wargamer continued to hold a library of missions for the venerable title. Almost ten years after release there is still a following for the game. The biggest problem with the game in 2006 was incompatibility with Windows XP (actually 2000 that of course carried over to XP).
Recently Matrix Games picked up the wargaming library from Talonsoft and has started retooling these older games for re-introduction to modern times. The first released was Koger’s venerable title. Repackaged, cleaned up and reintroduced in a Windows XP compatible version, Operational Art of War III is being sold as an exclusive download from Matrix Games.
I consider this to be "Norm Koger Month" for me. I have the opportunity to look at Norm’s games from past and present as I look at Operational Art of War III (aka OPART III) as well as his and Jim Rose’s new release of Distant Guns which has just been released. I will let you know what I think of that game in a later review.
The question that a lot of folks will be asking of course is if Operational Art of War III is actually worth the money considering the age of the original title. It is a fair question, after all this isn’t a new game really but more of an update of an older, original title. Whether you think it is worth it or not is definitely a personal decision, one you have to base upon your like or dislike of the original title.
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