by Marcus Mulkins
previewed on PC
A work in progress
Just let me get this out of the way, up front: this game is NOT for everyone. This is a Grand Strategy Game with the emphasis on "Grand". It will have more appeal to Chess players than Checkers enthusiasts and even then, the people that will truly savor the rich flavors of this game will be dyed-in-the-wool micromanagers. Fortunately, that last limitation pretty much describes me exceedingly well. So it comes as no surprise that I am eagerly awaiting this game's release.
If you are among those people that mastered Making History: The Calm & The Storm, I would advise you to not get too cocky. Muzzy Lane has pumped in a lot of new features and changes. Although the flow of the game is still the same, some notable changes have been made. The tech tree has been expanded, along with changes and improvements to the info panels. Many of those panels are being tweaked, with corresponding tweaks to the AI. Knowing Muzzy Lane, they – will - continue to create tweaks after release, making them available on their website on a frequent basis.
At this point, you may very well go, "Huh? Why don't I just wait until the game is complete?”. The answer is likely to be "A bird in the hand...." . The game was first announced for a release in late 2009 but it got pushed back again and again. Recently it went from being a May 25th release to being released June 15th but I wouldn’t bet the farm on that date either. The developers have a - lot - of new material to jam into the game and that takes time. As Chris Parsons, Product Manager at Muzzy Lane put it: “I think we underestimated how ambitious this project was in that it is actually 3 products that all essentially have to finish at once: the game itself, the platform, and the multiplayer service”. I really want to stress that it is all - good - stuff and much of it is has been prompted by the beta testers. There is so much that if they waited until they had tweaked the game to the point of being perfect, the rest of us would never get a chance to play this game.
So, what's so great about it?
Napoleon said, "God is on the side of the biggest battalions". Anyone that has studied the art of war extensively will recognize that Benjamin Franklin probably had a better grasp of a greater military truth when he said: "For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail". Generals and their armies may be the ones that win the battles, but logistics is what it takes to win wars. It is what makes the difference between an "army" and an "armed mob". Making History II is really about running a country in order to empower your units to be able to wage war and it does so in great detail. It will be your daunting task to manage crop production, resource gathering, infrastructure development, tech development, expanding your manufacturing capabilities, maintaining civil harmony, and, of course, directing your military forces. So this isn't just a wargame; it's a WARgame.
Probably the single most noticeable change from the original Making History is that you are no longer restricted to the 8 major powers of World War II. For instance, the "The German Question" scenario which starts in 1933 will let you choose from - 76 -nations, ranging from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. Even if a small nation like Portugal doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of surviving to the end game, starting a game as a very minor Minor nation is a good way to learn the nitty-gritty of developing a nation's agricultural and industrial sectors.
My biggest gripe with the original were the incredibly boring map graphics. The Making History 2 graphics are much more vibrant and give you a decent feel for the associated topography of the landscape. Like so much else in the game, the graphics include a wealth of visual clues as to what's happening where. Besides the mandatory unit pieces, there is an animation of a hammering or digging workman in every region that has an active project. Major buildings like factories and universities are shown on the map as an indication of the class of a structure present (as opposed to the quantity of that structure).