Sid Meier’s Gettysburg! Electronic Arts, (800) 245-4525, $49.95.
Imagine you’re a Confederate general. It’s July 3, 1863, and you’re in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Across the open fields before you, the Union’s seemingly impenetrable line on Cemetery Ridge glares at you menacingly. After two days of fierce fighting, you have been ordered to lead your tattered division into what you know will be a senseless slaughter. This charge–Pickett’s Charge–will put a bloody exclamation point on the Confederacy’s invasion of the North. You know it, but what can you do about it? If you own Sid Meier’s Gettysburg!, the answer is simple: you can do anything you want.
Gettysburg!, an exciting and educational CD-ROM game by Electronic Arts’s Firaxis Games, not only helps you relive the Civil War’s watershed battle, it gives you a say in its outcome. From Culp’s Hill to Little Round Top to Pickett’s Charge, you pick your fight, and you command the soldiers. The game, with its high-definition graphics, realistic sound, and quick, responsive action, leaves similar computer war games behind. It, like the person playing it, commands the field.
Best of all, Gettysburg! is based in historical fact. Although the outcome of your own game is far from fixed, the leaders and troops you choose are only as good as they were 135 years ago; a green or demoralized regiment will not become world-beaters simply by being under your control. But if you work at it, you might change history. I, however, did not. Choosing to ignore Robert E. Lee’s plan to charge the center of the Union line, I led my Confederates against the flanks. Toward the north, the boys in blue broke and ran, but then reformed and charged. Toward the south, they stood firm. I never stood a chance. The result was the same as the real Pickett’s Charge: the Confederacy lost. Fortunately, this is only a game, and I can try again. Robert E. Lee and George Pickett might have wished for such an opportunity.
IBM PC or compatible:
Pentium 60 MHz or compatible processor and Microsoft Windows 95, a DirectX-compliant card with at least 800 x 600 resolution and 256 colors, 16 MB of RAM