Ubisoft have come up with a significant advance in wargames - this one's fun to play!
The Perfect General
The old coffee cream metaphor seems unerringly appropriate here. Imagine someone gave you a massive bag of coffee creams. Much as you may enjoy them, human nature has it that after a time you'd want something different to chew on. Some of those nice purple ones with the nuts in, perhaps, or maybe a green triangle or two.
The Perfect General fits in, if you will, as they obligatory orange cream of this unnecessarily complicated analogy. Although slightly different from virtually every other wargame ever (the coffee creams), it is still not innovative, intelligent nor nutty enough to reach the yet untouched status of a wargame that, like the green triangles and the purple ones, is actually exploiting the potential of the Amiga to its fullest. [Can we take it that you've finished with the Quality Street metaphor now? - Ed]
The main question to consider of course is whether or not you like coffee creams in the first place. [Obviously you haven't finished with it, then - Ed] The Perfect General caters for those who may not be sure with a well-written manual and a walk through of a couple of scenarios, as well as providing equally adequately for the more experienced muncher with a good helping of other, not so simple, scenarios.
These scenarios concern areas, be they cities, deserts, forests or (on the larger of the things) entire islands, the taking over of which will gain the attacker victory points. The attacker may be you, or it may be your opponent - the idea (unless you tweak things otherwise) is that you play each scenario twice - once from the attacker's and once from the defender's point of view. A nice idea, and one I haven't seen before in a war game - at least, not recently.
Having said that, I found this game unoriginal, there are still a lot of things General can fly up its flagpole with pride. The opening sequence for one - here you exchange your points for whatever combination and quantity of infantry, artillery, vehicles and mines that you see fit, as opposed to being lumbered with a specific combination. Choosing and positioning your army now becomes as much an integral part of the game as does where you move them during your turns - the more out of the way cities are worth more victory points and so are really where you should be heading. The otherwise dormant forces in neutral areas will attack if you try to pass through - which is fair enough, really - so it's probably worth moving your troops through just to annoy them.
The realism of this wargame is another point worthy of congratulation. Mobile artillery is less accurate than regular, then again even the most accurate gun is going to miss sometime or another (the Partial kill/Full kill denotes whether targets die instantly when hit or accumulate damage instead). The weapons are both barrage and non-barrage, and have automatic targetting for anything in range. There is also a Return Fire option, in which a defending unit under attack can return fire even if it isn't strictly his go, and a Passing Fire option where if, on your turn, you move past an enemy unit, he (or 'she' - The Perfect General even has a sense of humour and insists on using the feminine impersonal pronoun) can fire at you as you try to sneak past.
This is the sort of thing we want - some actual authenticity in a war game. Real life wars aren't played in turns; if you are fired on, you don't just sit there thinking "Oh well, better not fire back, it isn't my go yet", so why should we have to in a wargame, I ask?
Perhaps it was the fact that The Perfect General isn't historically-based that allowed Mark and Bob Programmer to dare to do something like this. It's just a shame that they didn't take the idea further and allow you to do more. Heck, why not even move about and fire during the other player's turn? It's also a pity that your troops still wait for you to give them their every move without the artificial intelligence we've found in a couple of wargames in recent months. All we need now is a wargame with more realism, artificial intelligence and which, most importantly, is approached from something more graphically exciting than the (snore) hexadonal grid.
The Bottom Line
If only this wargame was making more of a step forward rather than a small nudge. Buy and enjoy if you want a (fairly) modern wargame, or wait (if you can) for the next model.