"Is that a hand in your shirt or are you just happy to see me?"
As the newest member of the Revolution, a brief introduction is in order, so I'll be , um, brief. I'm a world class insomniac. In fact, I haven't slept a wink in over six years. Needless to say, I find myself with a great deal of time on my hands while the rest of the world is either sleeping (the bastards!) or enjoying other "indoor sports" (the bastards!). In my wide-eyed state of restlessness, I find both comfort and consolation in the wonderful world of video games. Having spent countless hours in front of the monitor, rarely have I encountered a game as, well, boring as Battleground 3: Waterloo. This game is an historical strategy simulation dealing with the "epic" confrontation between the French Army of Napoleon (the little guy) and the Anglo-Allied and Royal Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine (the other guys). A series of scenarios are presented that recreate various confrontations of this famous day, all of which are laid out on a battlefield map broken down into hexes. The player can choose which scenario to play (unlike Warcraft style games, where victory in one battle is the only way to advance to the next battle.)
The gameplay is well-organized, being broken into "phases" including Movement, Defense, Offense, Cavalry Charge, and Melee. The main problem here is the amount of time it takes to complete a turn. The larger scenarios (50 turns) take days to finish. This would be fine if there was some kind of payoff, a video clip, cool animation sequence, something. But after putting in a slew of hard hours of work, the game just ends. That's it. Just a "bye, thanks for playing, see you next week." Kind of like playing with a hula-hoop. Another problem with gameplay is the fact that you can't generate new units. Each scenario comes equipped with a fixed number of armies. New units cannot be created, although some scenarios include an arrival log of reinforcements. The scheduled arrivals of reinforcements are historically accurate, down to the actual time of day. Unfortunately, this is fixed as well, leaving little control to the user in terms of building an army (which seems silly considering that this is an ARMY game).
Control is achieved via the Windows point and click system. This is fine, except that some of the scenarios involve a...well...army of units to control. Constant scrolling takes away from the game's fluidity. There are also scads of rules about attacking and moving. For example, "Cavalry units that have moved in the Charge Phase get an advantage when attacking in the Melee Phase if they are attacking non-square infantry in unobstructed hexes across unobstructed hex sides..." Ah, yes. Of course. How simple.
Waterloo is loaded with options, ranging from the amount of control the user has over their army (manual, partially CPU controlled, etc.) to game display (2D, 2D zoom, 3D, 3D zoom, Full zoom). This is by far the game's strong suit. After getting my tail whooped by those pesky French, I simply set the overall advantage to my benefit. En garde, you stinking French pig-dogs! The graphics are so-so, really nothing to cheer about. The display options help, but one can't avoid feeling like this game is the bastard child of Stratego and Battlechess, minus the fun. Waterloo's intro is a long, drawn out video clip of guys dressed up as 19th century soldiers mulling about. Portions of video are also randomly thrown in during the game, which only slowed down gameplay (I gleefully set this video option to "off").
The sound effects are your typical war noises (BOOM, BLAM, BLAH). I have a creeping suspicion that whoever composed the music suddenly suffered a fatal injury before completing the score, which would explain why said score consists of one song...played over and over again. A little more variety would have helped.
If you're a history buff, and I mean really into history, then Battleground 3: Waterloo might not be a bad choice. For the rest of you, I'd advise using this game solely as a means to get to bed. For the love of God, this is war. Where's the blood? Where's the looting? Where's the unabashed mayhem? Where's the sleeping pills?