Battle of the Bulge – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy
Developer: Shenandoah Studio
Publisher: Shenandoah Studio
Platform: iPad

Battle of the Bulge – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great example of succesfully blending game and history.
Bad: Needs a lot of patience to learn.
User Score
10.0
(6 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)

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Battle of the Bulge hits close to home. After all, Namur, Bastogne and Verviers are all places no more than a two hour drive from my own town in Belgium. World War II is still actively remembered here and there are still plenty of people for whom the terrible proceedings of the war are all still vivid memories.

Reviewing this game became a personal affair then, as stories told during my youth by my great-grandparents surface and set pieces used throughout the game are all very recognizable.

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Story:

Let’s start with a short history lesson. Battle of the Bulge is set during a German offensive (die Ardennenoffensive in German to be precise) on the Ardennes, a mountain region in southern Belgium towards the end of World War II.

The Germans’ goal was to break through the allied defenses, divide them and subsequently capture Antwerp, a city well known for its naval activity.

Important in this battle was the Nazi’s element of surprise when attacking the Allied defenses. The terrain, however, aided the defenders, allowing for reinforcements to arrive timely, allowing the Allies to push the Germans back.

The battle ended with a victory for the American, British, Belgian and French troops, yet it went down in history as the largest loss of men for the American troops during the war.

Let’s end our summary here, those interested are better served reading a decent history book or should visit the appropriate wiki-page.

Battle of the Bulge (the game) is essentially a reenactment of this offensive, offering a chance to play either side.

Graphics

A top-down map offers a view on the entire area with lines mapping borders and other landmarks. Compare it to a more detailed version of Risk’s world map.

Other than that there’s not much to say about Battle of the Bulge’s looks other than that they’re minimalistic to complement the game’s goal of simulating part of our own (bloody) history.

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Sound

It might have been the soundtrack that surprised us the most in Battle of the Bulge. Developer Shenandoah Studio went out of its way to include genuine Dutch and Belgian music from the 1940’s. It’s a blast from the past and adds another layer of authenticity to a game that’s just striving to guide us through history.

Gameplay

Battle of the Bulge is a turn-based strategy game through and through. We made the comparison to Risk before, and to the uninitiated and those with no sense of scale, it would be an apt description of the game.

In reality though, its systems are more complex than that. Each scenario you play is divided in several days. Each day can consist of a number of turns for both the Allies and the Germans depending on the actions taken, although playing as the Germans gives you a few consecutive turns to simulate the real battle’s element of surprise.

Each day starts with a debriefing, afterwards you’re able to move your tanks and other troops throughout the map, with up to three different units being able to occupy a certain location at any given time.

Don’t expect to win on your first few tries, aside from the general outline we wrote above, there are several other rules that you simply have to learn by playing the game yourself.

Add an A.I. that knows more about warfare than most of us do and you’ve got a harsh, yet satisfying game, able to satisfy any strategist.

One more thing; while you can tackle Battle of the Bulge solo – and any sane person should, even if it’s just to get to know all the different rules – the game truly shines when played online.

Other gamers come up with more unique strategies than you’d think possible. So make no mistake, no matter how though the A.I. gets, the true fight only starts in multiplayer.

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Conclusion

Battle of the Bulge deserves all the praise it’s getting around the World Wide Web. Not only is it a deeply satisfying strategy game, it’s also a great incentive to learn a bit more about parts of history that are more often than not forgotten these days.

One word of warning: casual gamers beware; those searching for a quick snack to soften up those commutes won’t find it here.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Battle of the Bulge - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

2 Comments

  1. 3rd-strike.com | War of the Roses – Review
    February 10, 2013, 9:34 pm

    […] to be told. Sure, the Lancastrians and Yorkers did actually fight, but just like we did with our Battle of the Bulge review, we point you to the appropriate wiki for an in-depth […]

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  2. […] one of the best strategy games on i-devices and has kept improving ever since I reviewed it way back in February. New scenarios – of which one is completely free – and two additional A.I.’s […]

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