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David Stokes
Strategy: War
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Paul Rigby
Chris Bourne

By gum, what a nice surprise to see the English Civil War covered in a wargame. Offering five varied scenarios, Cromwell should have been a good game. However, too many frustrating elements and poor design decisions have prevented that happening.

The command feature is functional but rather tedious in parts. The map, being rather large, has to be scrolled using a cursor to reach all of your units. Why isn't there an automatic option to jump to the next available unit? Many wargames offer this as standard, nowadays.

When trudging around the map, you need to place the cursor on each unit, press the enter key to access the unit and then move to where you wish the unit to be placed, pressing enter to confirm the move. However, there's no graphical indication the unit has been chosen for orders. This brings the frustrating situation where you have to scroll off the map to find the destination you wish to move the unit to. If you forget where the unit originally is you've no chance of retracing your steps because the unit is never highlighted.

Artificial Intelligence is reasonably good. The computer opponent generally behaved as expected in response to my tactical manoeuvres. However, with the English Civil War being such a random affair, the majority of the fighting on a melee level, I was disappointed that a 128K option wasn't offered. I'm sure that CCS could have looked into more complex melee algorithms, improving the standard of play overall.

In addition, a 128K version could have opened the door to a two-player option, improved command/control, improved the rather bare report feature - who knows? Really, CCS, in this day and age I really think you should be releasing 128k-only wargames with an option of a 48K version to be sent to registered owners, on request. This sort of thing is appreciated in 16-bit gaming so why not on the dear old Speccy?

Cromwell is not a disaster, in fact, there's a good game in there somewhere. However, a combination of poor design (eg, the command/control interface), limited memory capabilities and so on denigrate the whole affair.



Civil war fanatics may be able to see through the inadequacies but better war games have been seen.


Screenshot Text

Lined up and ready to engage battle in Cromwell at War.