Title Historyline 1914-18 Game Type Strategy Company Blue Byte Players 1 or 2 HD Installable Yes Compatibillity All (Disable AGA) Submission Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer Review As the title suggests, this is a game about the first world war. Bluebyte, the creators of this game, claim in the manual that: "Never before has entertainment software been so conciously designed to present knowledge and facts to the player in a graphic manner.". That sounds very nice, but what about the game itself? Bluebyte sets the scene with a brilliant intro showing the murder of Franz Ferdinand, the presumed successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne. This was the event that started the whole war (If you want to know more, buy the game). Then the intro continues, showing a map of Europe and going through the events which led to the war step by step. Finally the map catches fire and the war is on. Historyline can be played in several ways. First of all, you can play the game in campaign mode where you move through the entire war. You can choose whether you want to represent the central European powers or the Allies. The game will be different depending on which you choose because you will have different units available. Also, there are 24 maps where you can either play against another human player or the computer. Historyline is a turn based strategy game. While one player give orders concerning troop movement, the other player concentrates on attacking. After they are both done, the computer carries out the orders. The attacks are calculated first, so although player one may have ordered his tank to retreat, it might not reach the destination if player two ordered an attack on this tank the same turn. The attacks themselves can be shown in two ways, either as animations where the players see the opposing units shooting at each others or in a more statistical manner, where the player see how many units he lost and how many he killed. This way is actually better, as it also show the units experience (and how it improves). Experience is very important in Historyline. A fully experienced unit will do much more harm than a novice. This makes it important for the players to keep their units alive for as long as possible. The battle is over when one of the players either lose all his/her units or when one of the players lose his/her headquarters. In campaign mode, the battle is followed by historical information about what happened in the war at that time (There is a two-month interval between each of the 24 battles). The battlefield itself is split into hexagons. These are the properties the units can move on. Anyone who has played strategy games like Battle Isle knows how these work, but if you don't, just think of them as the squares on a chessboard (only that they are hexagonal). There are an impressive range of units available in Historyline. As the game tries to be historically correct, different units become available as the war moves on. Both sides have periods where they are technically superior to the other. In addition to land units ranging from infantry to artillery, you can also command air and sea units. Some maps are almost completely naval battles, while others are compact trench battles. Others again are so big that your have to depend on railroads to get your units to the main battlefield. There is a lot of variation in this game. In one player mode, the game work nicely. Unfortunately, the AI isn't too strong, so in the later battles he will still act as he did in the early ones. To make things more difficult, the level designers have given him other advantages, like asphalt roads instead of your muddy trails. I think this is rather annoying, but it isn't really their fault. Also, in the later levels, the computer get a huge amount of troops. For me, this makes actually starting to play a new map a bit difficult, as I don't know where to begin defending myself and where to just give up. As a two player game, Historyline is excellent. Trying to outwit your human opponent is not only more fun than trying to outwit the computer, but beating a human opponent also provides more satisfaction than beating a computer. The downside is that sometimes the battles become locked: Both players have good lines of defence and equal strength, so the first player who moves will probably suffer for it. In both one and two player games, the screen is split up. You can always see what the other player is up to, whether it's a computer or a human. It doesn't really matter much in this game, but some might want to put a book or something in the middle of the screen so that you can't see what the other is doing. This game has plenty of depth, and it provides the players with good opportunities to prove themselves as the strategic masterminds they imagine themselves to be. Especially in two player mode, the importance of a well thought out tactic and strategy is great. You won't win if you rush straight ahead, it is important to try to divert your enemy and lure him/her into your traps. Sadly, the computer opponent often uses the "rush straight into my opponent's claws" tactic. The gfx are very nice. It's well drawn, and it is easy to recognize the individual units. If you are color blind, you can also change the palette so that it is easier to distinguish which side a certain unit belong to. There are also some in-game animation sequences for when important things happen, like when a player captures an enemy depot or factory. The sound is ok too, although not as good as in certain other Bluebyte games. I think this game is worth buying even if you plan to play it alone, as the "flaws" in the AI don't really become evident until you've played a lot of maps. As every map takes a while to complete, you'll be guaranteed several months of enjoyment if you purchase it. If you have a friend who likes wargames, this game is a must. Historyline will provide you with tons of fun. It was also re-released by Empire in a compilation called Combat Classics 3, where you get Gunship 2000 and Campaign as well.