By Eric T. Baker

Although the real war ended almost 60 years ago, the virtual version of World War II goes on and on. In the air, players can pilot 20 authentic aircraft across 30 missions thanks to Lucas Arts’ Secret Weapons Over Normandy. Lawrence Holland, who previously did Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, created the game. In this game, the player’s character works his way up in an elite fighter squadron that battles in a variety of combat theaters across Europe. The full story takes 30 missions to complete and includes air-to-air and air-to-ground battles.

An instant action mode lets the player configure planes as desired before jumping into combat against the computer or another player in split-screen mode. Completing the campaign and challenge missions unlocks numerous additional features, including the ability to fly a Star Wars X-wing or Tie Fighter in the instant action mode. Despite this bit of whimsy, the game’s mission locations, weapons, planes, and objectives are historically accurate. The only Small historical changes were made so the campaign game works.

Activision’s Call of Duty, a gritty game of created by the producers of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, represents the ground war of WWII. A squad-based game, CoD is devoted to the fact that no one person won the war alone. As in the real war, the player’s squad lays down covering fire, pulls its wounded to safety, and performs other authentic tactics. The squad members’ personalities and training affect how each job is done.

Players sequentially control American, British, and Russian soldiers over the course of 24 missions that are within four interconnected historical campaigns. The players must get their troops to do a variety of missions including sabotage, all-out assault, vehicle combat, and search and rescue. The characters do this with authentic weapons in authentic locations using authentic vehicles. It is war from the grunt’s eye, as real as pixels can make it.

Soldier Emperor from Avalanche Press portrays an older but just as far ranging war. The game covers the Napoleonic Wars in Europe from 1803-1815. The game box contains 180 huge and thick playing pieces, 165 smaller marker pieces, two large, hard-mounted game boards, and 64 cards. The game map stretches from Britain to Persia and North Africa to Norway, and is divided into areas rated for their resources, manpower, and defense. The object of the game is to conquer and hold as much territory as possible.

Interestingly, SE may be the first time that Persia has appeared in a Napoleonic wargame. Persians fought the Russians twice during the Napoleonic era and threatened war with the Turks. They get two armiesled by Crown Prince Abbas Mirza. Turkey is also on the map, as are Kurdistan and Baghdad. Austria is in the game, as are Prussia, Britain, Spain, Russia, and France. Two to seven players can play the game. The cards cover the big events of the era and fortunes of war that befell the armies and fleets. Combat is simple to resolve but full of strategy.

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