One of the first things to get to grips within Stalingrad is the plot. The game is set in Russia during the Second World War. The playing area is, for the most part, concerned with the stretch of country between Kharkov in the West and Stalingrad in the East. Your aim, as the commander of the German forces, is to advance through Russia from Kharkov, and keep going until you manage to capture Stalingrad - this is as far as the game takes you but you may be interested to know that the idea was to take Stalingrad, thus cutting off oil supplies to the Russian forces, and then rushing northwards to ultimately capture Moscow.
The playing area itself is shown as an aerial map view, with cities and towns represented as dots alongside a name and the division of your forces displayed as square counters. Your forces start on the left hand side and include several panzer and infantry units, along with the whole of the Rumanian army. The Russian units are spread liberally across the map - some of them are very close to yours at the start so you will enter combat virtually straight away.
Everything happens in game turns, as per usual. You order units to move by using a system of left and right flank cursors. The distance they move depends largely upon their current strength and on what sort of terrain they are positioned. Once you have moved the units you can order them to either automatically attack any enemy within range, or defend themselves. If, after moving, one or more of your units finds itself adjacent to an enemy unit, combat will automatically commence. This is taken care of by the computer - it checks out what order has been given to the attacking unit and also the strength of that particular unit. If a unit is being beaten and its strength is rapidly falling, then it will automatically retreat, likewise if an enemy unit is weakened and retreats, then your forces will move forward.
As you progress across the map (presuming you will), you will gradually capture Russian towns and cities - these can then be used as supply bases. This is a new idea which means that if, after movement, one or more of your units is within four squares of a supply base they can order reinforcements and have added strength. Russian reinforcements arrive at the far righthand edge of the map and are simply displayed under a Russian flag until they get within a certain range - this means that you cannot identify the exact number of enemy divisions approaching but you know some are there.
The game will end when either your forces are forced to retreat and the Russians re-capture Kharkov, or when you manage to overrun Stalingrad and several other major cities. However, if either army is wiped out and they have no reinforcements, then, quite obviously, the game will also end. Gameplay is not exactly that wonderful - you can soon get bored as the average game time is around 6 hours. The game also appears to be slightly easier than previous productions - I managed to push the Russian forces right back to Stalingrad in my first game. Also, strategy gaming peeps might feel a bit swizzed because the graphics here are virtually identical to Overlord - the author has apparently just altered the map about a bit and changed the plot - not really cricket is it?
Author: Ken Wright
Reviewer: Jon Riglar
A reasonably competent strategy game - don't buy it if you already have Overlord.