by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Thus was America born
AGEOD seems to be on the roll as far as it comes to historical turn-based games. Relatively soon after we were introduced to Napoleon's Campaigns and American Civil War, we get a sequel to AGEOD's first ever title. Birth of America II: Wars in America 1750-1815 is set at around the same years as the original Birth of America (well, a birth can only last that long) and includes some of the same scenarios. The biggest reason for publishing the sequel is naturally to update the game mechanics with the innovations introduced by other recent releases and naturally to take them a few steps further ahead at the same time.
One cannot but wonder at the timing of this release, given that Civilization IV: Colonization is one of the other big turn-based titles released this fall. But whereas Civ4: Colonization is focussed on half-fantastical colonization of a piece of land that could be America, Birth of America II lets you play the actual, historically correct battles that made America possible, on a real map of northern America. Naturally, these games could attract some of the same players, but they are certainly different enough to avoid competing against each other.
Like all of AGEOD's games, Birth of America II: Wars in America 1750-1815 focusses its attention on the battles. Simply put, you have a selection of scenarios, based on real battles, to choose from and play. Some gamers might appreciate some more historical information, so as to better immerse us in the period in which the battles take place, but that is not the purpose of the game. Likewise, there's no campaign mode that would allow you to play through all of the scenarios one after the other with the results of the previous ones affecting the starting point of the next one. Such an option would quickly deviate us from real history, into the realm of alternate history and that is not the goal of any of AGEODs games.
In addition to the scenarios of the old title (which have naturally been updated with new troop types etc.), the sequel also offers such scenarios and mini-campaigns as 1750-1780: Lord Dunmore War, FIW 1755-1763 war campaign, Galvez 79; 1780-1800: Fallen Timbers 1791-1794; 1812-1815: Great Lakes 1813, Full War of 1812-1815 campaign, New Orleans 1815.
The above does not mean that the game doesn't allow you to make your own decisions and do things differently than the real generals did. Inside individual scenarios you are perfectly free to try and see if you really could have done things better than the historical leaders did. Of course, you will also have far more detailed information about your troops and their locations at your fingertips at all times, so you should perhaps not get too uppity about your achievements...
As with all the previous AGEOD titles, it seems that history professors have been working overtime in order to make the battlefields as historically accurate as possible. The native tribes, the armies and regiments and most of the officers leading them are historically correct. The makers of the game have not been afraid to show us how things really were: if an officer was a dolt historically, he will not be depicted as a military genius in this game either. Likewise, the map that the scenarios are played on is detailed beyond the point of what one would reasonably expect from a game. The map shows the area between the Mississippi in the west and the east coast, and includes blockade and commerce raiding boxes as well as new European off-map boxes (France, GB, Spain, Holland) or in the Americas (Hudson Bay, Newfoundland, Cuba). In fact, it is clear that the whole team at AGEOD is irrevocably enthused with military history.
Controlling your troops
The main reason for publishing a sequel to the original is naturally the user interface. Over their previous titles, AGEOD has improved their user interface with tremendous leaps and thus it is very good to see it used also in Birth of America II. The tooltip feature allows you to study the strategic map in great detail as you roll your mouse pointer between units, cities and regions and the respective tooltip appears on the screen, detailing the information about the region, the statistics and complement of the stack of units, or the pertinent details of a city.
No Pros and Cons at this time