Gary Grigsby's World at War PC CD-ROM
Published by Black Bean Games
Developed by 2By3 Games
Release Date: Out Now
Gary Grigsby's World at War, an introduction.
A lot of World War II games we see are fairly light on realism. This is no bad thing of course because very few people would have the time to learn the complexities of a game that was 100% realistic. Take Hearts of Iron II for instance. It's a great game but the chances are that most gamers just won't take the time to learn how to fully appreciate it. Of course you have the other side of the coin too with games like Sudden Strike which is still a great game but doesn't rely that much on realism in order to be as accessible as possible. Getting a balance between realism and accessibility is no easy task but one that Gary Grigsby's World at War seems to pull off quite well.
What's the game about?
Essentially World at War plays very much like a board game. You're given four campaigns to play in, that each start at key points in the war, and two tutorials. The game supports up to five players (on one PC) and a PBEM (play by email) mode is also included. You can choose to play as Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, China or the Western Allies. Rounds consist of a movement phase and a production phase. The movement phase deals with the movement of units and combat whilst the production phase deals with production and research. Before you begin a game you choose whether or not to control both of these aspects or just the one of them. If you wanted to simply have control over the movement phase and leave the production phase to the AI then you can do so.
What's good about the game?
Despite its appearance World at War is not as complicated as you might think it is. Certainly when compared to the likes of Hearts of Iron 2 and Europa Universalis, World at War seemed pretty straightforward although it's worth noting there's more to learn here than in most games we see today. As we said earlier, you can choose whether to control both the movement and production phases or leave one of them to the AI if you wish but in all honesty to get the full flavour of the game you'll want to do it all yourself. That said though, leaving the AI to handle the production in your first game or two does make the game easier to get into. Moving units around and issuing orders is a fairly straightforward process and the various information screens are well laid out and easy to understand.
What's not so good about the game?
The presentation of the battles in World at War is perhaps its biggest downfall. The game, as we'll mention in a moment, looks quite basic and more effort could have been made on beefing up the presentation. Personally I would have liked the option to have controlled any nation I wanted instead of simply having to choose from the five options I mentioned above but I suppose this was a side effect of keeping the game as streamlined as possible. Streamlined is one thing, missing essential features is another. Where is the diplomacy? Diplomacy in World at War doesn't appear to exist at all. You can't offer treaties or set up alliances and this really makes the whole thing feel diluted.
How does it look?
As we hinted in the above paragraph, the game could look better. The game kind of looks like those board game based PC games that appeared at the end of the 1990's and early 2000 such as Axis and Allies and Risk 2. To put it simply they get the job done but in no way do they look anything special. Only the 1024x768 screen resolution is supported but you can enable a windowed mode which prevents the whole thing from looking fuzzy if you're playing the game on a 17" TFT (or above) screen. Regions are colour coded to show you who is controlling them as well as their political state. Battles are shown on a separate screen which to be completely honest looks quite poor and most will simply click the screen off rather than watching it.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers aren't going to have any problems with World at War. Virtually all the information is displayed in text. The tutorials are text only. All notifications within the game are in text. In fact the only aspect of the game that deaf gamers will miss out on is the speech on the film clips that are shown when a nation has been conquered etc. This isn't much of a problem and these clips can even be disabled in the options menu if you don't want them. The game manual is actually very well written. Our review copy came with a 128 page electronic manual (in .pdf format) and whilst we aren't usually keen on these manuals (like most people we prefer a printed manual) we have to say it was very helpful and a lot more in-depth than the in-game tutorials which only really cover the basics.
Gary Grigsby's World at War does a good job of making a serious war game accessible to the more casual gamer. Grognards won't be that impressed with the game as it lacks depth when compared to titles such as Hearts of Iron 2. The absence of diplomacy is disappointing and should have been included, if only in a simplistic form. The game could have looked better but with the exception of the battles, everything looks OK. The battles look too simplistic and it's a good bet no one will watch more than a few. Overall World at War is an enjoyable war game that has a definite board game feel to it. Fans of titles such as Risk 2 and Axis and Allies should definitely give it a go.
Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Gary Grigsby's World at War is just the ticket if you're looking for a board game feel to a World War II strategy game. Whilst it's a plus point that it's not overwhelming, it's a shame that no diplomacy options have been included and the game feels strange because of their absence.