Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath

Review

posted 4/27/2006 by Dennis Wolfe
other articles by Dennis Wolfe
Platforms: PC
I think to get started I need to revise your understanding of history. In the history books you likely read in school, it talks about what most Americans now refer to as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Russians refer to it as the Caribbean Crisis, and the Cubans call it the October Crisis. No matter what you call it there was a tense Cold War standoff between the two world powers in October 1962. The history books tell us that the standoff ended with the USSR removing the missiles and the imminent danger.

Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath is set in an alternate ending to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was really more of a beginning than an end, the beginning of a major worldwide conflict. This new conflict would begin when the nuclear missiles fly. In the post nuclear world there is now 4 major coalitions fighting over a planet in shambles. The game contains four campaigns, one representing each of the coalitions. The coalitions include American/British Alliance, USSR, French/German Alliance, and China. In each campaign there are dozens of individual missions, each with specific and defined objectives, but also plenty of opportunity for random skirmishes. The game contains very detailed story line that includes some historical fact mixed with some alternate history. In fact the story is so detailed that it almost felt like I was reading an encyclopedia. So for those who enjoy the story line, you will not be disappointed. For those who only need a bit of the story, but really want to jump into the game, you are in luck, there is nothing in the story that is required reading to play the game.

In similar fashion to any strategy title, each opponent has its own units each with its own properties. While there is only five types of units there are a considerable number of units falling into each type. The types or categories of units are transport, artillery, SPG (self propelled gun), armored vehicles, and aviation. Also in line with other strategy titles there are terrain items that impact the game, some impassible, some effecting speed, some giving defensive boosts, some offering cover, some just looking nice on the screen. You can also garrison the buildings and even find some abandoned vehicles that you can use. The terrain can offer a significant advantage if used properly. Of course we cannot forget the resources. The basic resources used are ammo, fuel, and spares. Obviously these resources are critical and failure to properly manage these resources completely offset even the best of military strategists. You gain these resources by capturing and holding the armory, fuel storage, spare parts storage, oil production/refineries, spare parts factories, radars, and airfields. The first three facilities (armory, fuel storage, and spare parts storage) only provide a preset amount of ammo, fuel, and spare parts. Once those resources are used then you must rely solely on the oil production/refinery and spare parts factory. There is also the radar which helps you detect and size up enemy units and groups at a large distance. Take note, there is no facility that generates additional ammo, so once you are out, well it is not pretty. Trust me, don't run out, I tried that a few times and did not like the outcome.

One of my favorite aspects of this game is the unique joining of the turn based and real time strategy. I enjoy both types of strategy games and this is actually the first game I have found that has a good balance bringing the two game styles together. I think the ideas used in the game are not only fresh and exciting but have real potential in future releases as well. I just love the strategic turn based map screen, which the game designers call Chapter Screen. On this screen you can quickly and efficiently determine your resources, your unit strength, which units need repaired, what objectives you have taken, what is left to take, and enemy strength for the units within your visual range. Once we reach the real time portion of the game, I find a few problems. I found the real time portion of the game very difficult on the normal setting and basically impossible on the high and the deadly difficulty levels. After some time the real time missions start to all look the same. This may be partly due to the limited number of graphic representations for the buildings, trees, and terrain features. I also found it a bit disappointing that when you run the tank over a fence, tree, or almost any other terrain feature, you always get the same little poof of leaves (or that is what it looks and sounds like). I would have enjoyed seeing a tree fall, or fence pieces remain half buried or at least a different animation for some of the different events. The good news, if the real time battles start feeling monotonous you can use the autocombat feature, which will automatically figures out the wins, loses, and casualties based on the units each side has and the defensive bonuses that may exist for the defender. I used it many times and it seems to get the job done. You cannot however, use it on the scenario missions.

Overall I enjoyed playing the game, at first. Once I got past a few missions they all started feeling the same.


D
The concepts and ideas are great, but the real time portion is in need of some improvements.


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