By Eric T. Baker

Uncommon Valor: Campaign for the South Pacific is new from Matrix Games. Together with legendary game designer Gary Grigsby, Joel Billings and Keith Brors of 2by3Games have created an operational campaign game of the South Pacific during World War II. Uncommon Valor is the first of a three-game series.

The all-new operational game covers the campaigns for New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon chain from May 1942 to the end of December 1943. The scale is 30 miles per hex and the attrition factor is individual vehicles, guns, and squads. Phases are one day, composed of two 12-hour impulses. A turn is composed of 1 to 7 phases, at the player’s discretion. The player can also choose continuous play but can interrupt that by pressing a key.

The cornerstone of UV is naval detail never before achieved in a game modeling this scale. There are critical hit locations for all weapons platforms and individual armor locations, and each ship’s crew has an experience rating for day and night combat. Every vessel from battleships to Japanese barges and American PT boats has a captain rated with his own strengths and weaknesses. The game includes over 200 ship classes. The ships take incidental damage from rough weather and mishap, as well as battle damage.

Aircraft are just as detailed. Lots of planes are included and the pilots and crews are tracked separately from aircraft and have individual skill and fatigue ratings. Aircraft can be ordered to find and bomb enemy bases and airfields, although they may not find the target at all, especially in bad weather or against naval targets at extreme range.

On top of ships and aircraft, the player also controls soldiers of many different types. Each is represented by different unit counters and has different capabilities. There are engineers, combat squads, Marine squads, support squads, air-support sections, Sherman tanks, Stuart tanks, motorized forces, and mortars and field artillery units.

There are 18 campaigns included in UV, including a 1943 campaign, two 1942 campaigns, and a Battle of the Coral Sea scenario. These can be played against the computer, in a hot-seat game against another human player, or over the Internet by secure e-mail.

From hardcore history to pure World War II combat: Sudden Strike II is a real-time strategy game where the whole world is a battlefield. Players command from the front line as the commanders of German, Russian, British, American and, finally, Japanese troops. Battles take place on water and on land as well as in the air. There are four different difficulty levels and a multiplayer mode.

The game contains 40 missions in 5 campaigns or separate scenarios using up to 1,000 units per scenario. There are 150 kinds of units guided with improved artificial intelligence including aircraft, infantry, and armor. The landscape contains fully destructible bridges, houses, fortifications, trees, and other objects. The interface is much improved from the original version For players who want to simulate WWII in a real-time format, this is the game.

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