Decisive Battles of WWII Vol 2: Korsun Pocket PC CD-ROM

Published by Just Play
Developed by SSG
Released – Out Now
Price : £29.99

Turn-based wargames have always been an acquired taste. Where most (but not all) RTS games can be conquered with quick reactions and a basic working knowledge of the game mechanics, for turn-based games it’s very different. Turn-based games require you to know the game inside out and appreciate all of the game’s intricacies and nuances. As a result of this turn-based games appeal to the serious gamer and tend to put-off the casual gamer. Advance Wars on the GBA proved that when a turn-based game is presented in the correct way, it can be phenomenally popular. Let’s take a look and see if Korsun Pocket has what it takes to appeal to the casual gamer as well as the serious gamer.

Korsun Pocket is set on the Russian Front in January 1944. The real battle was one of attrition between the German and Soviet forces. SSG have implemented as much detail as is possible into the battles and serious wargamers will be thrilled with what’s on offer here. In addition to the 5 Korsun Pocket scenarios SSG have reworked their Ardennes Offensive campaign (the prequel to this title) and have included it as a bonus, which is excellent. The Korsun Pocket scenarios are Korsun Pocket (48 turns), Trapped on the Dnepr (24 turns), 1st Ukranian Front (16 turns), 2nd Ukranian Front (16 turns) and Last Stand at Korsun (12 turns). The Ardennes Offensive campaign consists of 32 turns. In addition to these scenarios it’s also possible to participate in a play by e-mail multiplayer game.

Having mentioned the problems with turn-based games not usually being accessible to casual gamers in the introduction, I’m pleased to say that Korsun Pocket is more casual gamer friendly than any other game in the genre. Whilst all the depth that pleases the hardcore gamer is still there (you can entrench units, repair bridges, blow bridges and clear minefields to name but a few actions) the game goes out of its way to be inviting and look interesting. Perhaps the best feature in the game that will help ‘shoe-horn’ the beginner in is the Combat Advisor facility. The Combat Advisor is basically an overlay that shows you your attack options and indicates which options are advantageous and also those that could prove disastrous. The Combat Advisor won’t give you an easy victory but it will help you until you’re competent enough to be able to work your battle options out in more detail by yourself. You can even weaken the computer AI if you feel the need to. In all there are 4 difficulty levels so there should always be an opponent to give you a challenge.

If there is one area that turn-based (especially hex-based) strategy/wargames usually struggle in, it’s graphics. All too often they play great but look ugly as sin. Thankfully this isn’t the case with Korsun Pocket. As you would expect the system requirements are low with only a 400MHz CPU being required to play the game. The game, as is the norm for genre, uses a 2D, top-down, display but unusually it’s very colourful and much more easy on the eyes than many games of this nature. The game displays battles and various activities by the use of icons. Whilst this may seem basic it’s a method that works well and doesn’t bog the gameplay down which is essential when the game has this much depth and scope.

Korsun Pocket is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. In all honesty the sound in the game is fairly minimal and none of it is important. All information is shown in text. Right clicking on a hex will show you all the units you have there and all their attributes are clearly displayed. All the information is shown clearly onscreen. The game uses a screen resolution of 1024×768 and the screen is laid out in such a way as to always make the information clear to see. You can find all the information such as strong points and the effects of the different terrains on movement from the various buttons on the lower left of the screen. The game comes with a 48 page booklet that contains the 8 tutorials that will help get you up and running with the game. These tutorials are fine but I would prefer the text had appeared onscreen instead of the user having to constantly flip their eyes from book to screen. There is also a comprehensive 42 page pdf manual that covers all the ins and outs of the game.

Korsun Pocket is an example of what wargames should be. It manages to retain all the depth and detail of games in the genre and yet it remains welcoming to newbies. If you’ve been wanting to try out one of these games then this is the title to go for. If you’re a seasoned wargamer you’ll be delighted to know this is perhaps one of the best wargames in recent years and has an AI that will keep you occupied for 100s of hours, at least.

Overall Game Rating: 8.7/10
One of the best wargames in recent years and is both welcoming to newbies and deep enough for veterans.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems at all for deaf gamers.