Indiana Jones Games
There are a few great indie games that come out of the blue every year. We made some effort in the past few months to cover some of them, to, sadly, disappointing results (‘this reporter, for one, puts the blame squarely on you, the reader!’ –my best impression of Kent Brockman). Still, two we reviewed recently both scored top marks and would serve as excellent gifts.
We’re going to war
Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin is quite possibly the most accurate tactical combat war sim ever. It is definitely the most impressive wargame we’ve had the opportunity to play with in years. CMBB covers the entire eastern front, from Finland to Romania, Berlin to Stalingrad. Every unit, no matter how obscure, somehow founds its way into the game. There are Hungarian assault guns and French-built Romanian tanks. The game even models the Brinell hardness numbers of armor on vehicles, as well as the general quality. Early-war Russian tanks had poor armor, as did late-war German ones. Everything from the mundane (like a shell’s trajectory) to the unexpected (artillery strike delays) finds a place in the game model. If you know a war buff and want to surprise them this year, this is the game to get.
Shattered Galaxy is one of the most underappreciated titles out there. Although it’s been on the market for over a year, people still resist giving it a chance. Speaking from experience, a big part of the reason is the unfamiliar concept. It took Rory, the reviewer who last covered it, over a week to convince me into trying it. SG sounded so weird, with only 6-12 units per player, and 15 players per side, that something spoke to me and said “nah, this has to suck, they can’t pull it off.” Boy, was I wrong. Some key parts of the game are just well, let’s not mince words - ghetto. The graphics and the missing sound effects are as disappointing as anything we’ve ever encountered. Yet within sixty seconds of stepping on the battlefield, they’re completely forgotten. Like Pontifex or Tetris, this is a game that doesn’t just rise above its technical shortcomings, it makes you forget them completely.