Gettysburg: An Interactive Battle Simulation
Swfte International, Ltd. Requires Windows
Two of us sat down at a computer expecting to play an explosive video game exploiting the three momentous days at Gettysburg. What we got instead was a highly involved, even scholarly, computer re-enactment.
The battle can be played out multiple ways: Both sides as they actually fought, with progress reports on casualties, retreats, how many stationed on high ground or in woods; or, you can assume Meade’s command while Lee’s strategy remains faithful or vice versa. Two players cannot battle each other, since the purpose of the game is historical. Lee’s second-guessers should take charge of this Army of Northern Virginia in order to appreciate his skimpy options. We tried dividing Lee’s force on the first day of fighting, instead of advancing, but to disastrous results. Less dramatic fine tuning is also possible. You can change the marching orders of Baxter’s brigade at 12:45 P.M. , for example, and otherwise leave the original strategy intact.
By video-game standards the graphics are unspectacular: each brigade gets a square icon, and yellow lines denote marching orders. Engaged troops are surrounded by an orange glow. And of course the flesh-and-blood generals might not hold to their basic strategies against your departures as the computer program insists. We did, however, learn something interesting about American history from just an hour of role-playing as General Lee. Civil War buffs may at last be able to take Cemetery Ridge or hold back Pickett from charging, just as they always wanted.