Perfect General II is an introductory turn-based strategy game, intended for people who have never played one before. It's a conversion of a little-known board game that the developers played within their office. At least, that is what the developers claimed.
The game consists of both Single Player and Hotseat (two-player) modes. One player takes the side of the Attacking (Red) Army, and the other takes the side of the Defending (Blue) Army. The players control their army, ordering movements and attacks, buying units, and ordering artillery strikes.
Your objective? To earn more points than your opponent by controlling cities and objective hexes by the end of the scenario; or to just have fun building your armies and destroying the enemy.
The unit list for each side consists of army staples: Infantry, Machine Guns, Engineers, Bazookas, Armored Cars, Armored Cars with Machine Guns, Light Tanks, Medium Tanks, Heavy Tanks, Elephant Tanks, Airplanes, Mobile Artillery, and Light and Heavy Artillery. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses which are expected, based on the unit type, although a couple can surprise you; for example, Light Tanks being able to move through forests more quickly than any other unit, and Engineers inflicting damage on units on a scale equal to a Heavy Tank.
Each turn is broken up into multiple "phases" where one side moves, then the other, then onto the next phase. By breaking the turns up into phases, it offers more complexity in the game without burdening the players with micromanagement, as well as making it easier for new players to learn the game. The player will never feel burdened with turn-by-turn micromanagement because of the phase system. The phases keep the game flowing and are designed to automatically move on to the next one when the current one is complete, so that a player never has to hit an "end of phase" or "end of turn" button.
The phases are: Purchase Units; Deploy Units; Artillery Confirmation; Artillery Fire; Direct Fire; Movement; Direct Fire (for units that have not attacked yet this turn); Artillery Preparation; Score; and End of Turn. The first two phases are not used every turn, except in a few scenarios.
The game cycles through all of the player's units automatically, so you never lose track of them. This feature is more helpful than anyone would believe, even for veteran gamers. The in-game map that players can use to get an overview of the scenario is excellent, and is probably the best map I have ever seen in a turn-based game. It provides a detailed map of the terrain, plus a number of filters to show or hide units and deployment zones, city values, and city names (yes, the creators named every city in every scenario).
The controls consist of a combination of the mouse and keyboard. Some commands can only be given by using the keyboard, such as opportunity fire and defensive fire against airplanes. Despite the need to learn the hotkeys, there are so few of them that it is easy to learn them all.
The graphics use bright colors and cartoony graphics to appeal to the younger generation, specifically children and pre-teens. Everything is easily identified at a glace, from terrain to units. Players need never ask the questions, "Is that a light or heavy tank?" or "Is that a river or lake?" or "Is that a forest or clear grassland?" The game also included a map editor that allowed you to make your own maps to play on.
The sound effects are "canned" sounds: people marching, weapons firing, cars and tanks driving. Nothing spectacular, but good enough to entertain and make you want to keep the sound on.
There is a very long list of scenarios to play, a feature that offers plenty of replayability. Also, the scenarios are broken into different categories, with each category having slight changes to the units each side can use, and slight changes to the game rules. A set of map books came with the game, each book providing information about each individual scenario with a map of the terrain for the scenario concerned.
At the end of every scenario, each player is given a rank based on how many points they earned compared to how many points they could have earned. The highest rank is "Perfect General," which is almost impossible to earn, as it requires the player to control EVERY city on the map from the first to the last turn without ever losing control of any city. I have earned the Perfect General rank only once. Players also have a number of graphs they can look at to see how fast they were gaining points compared to their opponent, as well as units lost and destroyed at the end of the scenario, to give you a decent idea of where you could have lost the game.
Perfect General II is one of the best board-style, turn-based strategy games that came out during the DOS era. It's an excellent game for beginners to play, as well as entertaining for veteran gamers due to its diversity and simplistic complexity. It's even better if you have a friend to play it with.
If you have never played a turn-based strategy game before because you have been afraid of micromanaging or "forgetting an important unit," then this is the game for you.
The executable that starts the game in DOSBox is dosbox.bat, tpg2.exe will not work.
An image of the original CD (tpg2.iso) can be found within the archive; it's needed to run the game.
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