Game Review - by James Allen
One slightly neglected era of warfare is the Eighteenth Century, a period of great revolution in the history of the world. Many countries revolted against their oppressors, and new governments and policies arose. Horse and Musket concerns itself with this time period, accurately simulating the leader-based combat portrayed in such movies as The Patriot. Will Horse and Musket be a Lethal Weapon, or just A Man Without A Face?
Horse and Musket simulates realistic and historic battles of the 1700s. There are several basic units available to do your malevolent bidding. Infantry include Line Infantry (in the usual "shoot me please" rows and columns), Grenadiers, and Light Infantry. Cavalry include Cuirassiers, Hussars, Cossacks, and Dragoons. You are supported by light, medium, and heavy Artillery, and your leaders direct the action. The battles take place on re-created locations where historically important confrontations took place. The Great Northern War (1700-1721), The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748), The Seven Years War (1756-1763), and The American Revolution (1775-1783) are all included with important battles of each altercation. In addition to all these wars, you can create your own maps and armies, and even play on the Internet. With the most important battles of the great wars of the era all included, Horse and Musket's features are complete.
Your basic sound is included. You can hear the treading of cavalry horses while movement occurs, and the firing of artillery and muskets, but that's about it. Horse and Musket is about right for the sound. Just like the graphics, the sound is meant solely to augment the gameplay, not to impress in any stretch of the imagination.
Horse and Musket employs a turn-based simulation of warfare, contrasting with the RTS mentality of today's battle software. Each turn is comprised of several phases, during which different actions take place. The bombardment phase involves pummeling your combatant with artillery fire. The command turn phase occurs every hour (four turns), and it's where you designate which leaders receive your subordinate points, so they can issue orders for the next hour. The command phase is where you choose which leader gets to command in each turn, and since you can only order around certain troops under one commander's reign, it is important to strategically determine which officer is the best to choose. Then the action phase begins: there is a first fire phase, a movement phase, a defensive fire phase, a second fire phase, and an assault phase. Any or all of these phases may occur on each turn: for example, at the beginning of the battle, most of the turns are spent moving troops. Finally, troops that have been routed withdraw from the area of concern.
The movement phase is very important, as you need to properly position your troops. If they are facing the incorrect direction, be prepared to be slaughtered. Your troops can be rallied by a leader, thus increasing their effectiveness. A major consideration in Horse and Musket is disruption. Any adverse act will result in the disruption of a particular unit to increase, and it the maximum disruption is reached, your troops will not obey any orders. Keeping your troops cool is of paramount importance. Your leaders are the life-blood of your battalion, and everything is conducted through them. This is an accurate depiction of the "don't act until ordered" method of 1700s combat. Horse and Musket has accurately portrayed combat of the era.
Graphics are nowhere near the impressive visuals of today's gaming community. This game was obviously designed to include all computing powers on the et, even from 5 years ago. Graphics are not intended to impress, just convey the game action in a very, very simple manner. The detail on the individual units is bearable, and you might actually think a real battle was taking place, from a considerable distance away. Nonetheless, 'tis better to have clean graphics that look sub-par than buggy, confusing graphics that are "more advanced."
Since there aren't many games that simulate 18th century battle, Horse and Musket is kind of in a class by itself. Featuring accurate gameplay of the time's scuffles, the game does not attempt to impress with astounding graphics or awesome sound effects. For all of those who want to simulate the scuffles of the 1700s without any bells and whistles, Horse and Musket may be for you. Plus, you may even spot Mel yourself.