Like any other American, I prefer wargames that are based on American experiences. This way I can have some frame of reference. Wargames are hard enough to review as it is. Does this mean that Austerlitz is any less of a wargame? No it does not. Austerlitz is a very high-quality game based on the Sid Meier Gettysburg graphic engine.Austerlitz a*umes the player has no idea of what the Napoleon campaigns were about, because Shrapnel Games provides the user with a very complete 114 page printed manual. The manual describes every facet of the gaming experience in complete detail along with providing some useful background information about the various battles that Napoleon engaged in and the Arms, equipment and tactics of the period.The game provides a number of options to get you started. There are six tutorials designed to teach you the basic elements of warfare as well as some advanced tactics. The advanced tactics teach you the benefits of combined warfare, including artillery and building seizure. There are 27 battles to choose from once you finish with the tutorials. The real-time battles range anywhere from an hour up to 8 hours of game-time. That took a little getting used to. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a certain frame of reference when judging the battle times. You remember that 8 hours of conflict with muskets is a very long time. There are four difficulty levels to choose from, you can play as the French or the Allies, and you can choose to play from a historical perspective or select random options.On the battlefield things start to heat up. There’s the usual fog-of-war preceding all battles and I mean that literally. There is actual fog and mist on the battlefield, and you must maneuver your troops in order to gain line-of-sight. You must protect your flanks and your artillery. You can use the cavalry as shock troops to hopefully break the enemy’s lines. You must use your Generals to rally fleeing troops, all with the sounds of muskets, cannon blasts and horns blaring in the backgrounds. I must reiterate the battlefield sounds are excellent. You really feel the immersion factor setting in while you’re watching your troops on the battlefield. Now watching the troops is another story. The once beautiful Gettysburg engine is now showing its age. No matter what resolution you are using, the troops still look blocky. There is no smooth animation transition; the troops seem to move in spaces. Does it detract from the game? It depends on the perspective that you are playing from. If you like the standard RTS games then you will definitely have problems with the graphics. If you are a true wargamer and are used to the icons of that particular genre, then you will be in graphics heaven.What do you do once you finish the game? Well you could play a multiplayer game using TCP/IP over the Internet, or you could host a LAN game as well. The one cool thing about multiplayer is that you could take command of a unit or brigade on the same side or command your own army and fight it out. Don’t like multiplayer? That’s okay; you can use the excellent scenario editor to create your own battles. When creating battles you have a number of options. You choose the length of your battle, either by selecting short, medium or long. Select your difficulty level and then choose the battle type- in other words you can select an offensive battle or a meeting engagement. You can then select the force mix. You can have all infantry battles, artillery battles, or you can set up combined arms engagements. The choice is yours.Austerlitz gives you so much bang for the buck that it doesn’t matter if you’re a history student, wargamer or casual gamer. This is a game that almost everyone will enjoy.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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