North & South
Review By: Gringo

Pay attention, children. The history lessons you've come to this site for over the last year and a bit continue post haste! Today we'll be learning all about the American Civil War. You know, that thing where some redneck southerners took on some snooty northerners and a lot of people got dead...fast! Now, bigots will tell you the war was fought over states' rights and racism had nothing to do with it, while left-wing loonies will tell you it was fought over slavery, and states' rights was a secondary issue. Truth is, they're all right! Don't I just make the best history teacher ever? I'll be more accurate now and tell you that I lied like a cunt. This isn't a history lesson at all! It's just me writing about how crap I was at playing a computer game based on the American Civil War. Yes, grab hold of your crotch and jiggle about like you've just caught herpes - we're going to be looking at classic PC game North & South today. It's also an excuse for me to show you that once again my feeble brain wasn't enough to cope with the demands of a 16-colour, cheap, repetitive action-strategy wacky game.

I must make my parents so proud. The basic premise of this game is, as you've probably guessed, the chance to fight the Civil War. You can either be a Union solider in fancy blue duds, or a Confederate, in a stinky gray uniform (slave optional). Plus, if you're a Union soldier, you're under the command of Abraham Lincoln. And if history has taught us anything, it's that Lincoln had a damn fine beard. Well, until his head exploded in a theatre. Although I'm not quite sure what that has to do with his beard. Oh well! Starting the game, you can choose to play with yourself (snicker), therefore against the computer - at three levels, from Gringo to Intermediate to Expert - or against a human opponent. Because I don't have any friends, and I like to play with myself (snicker again), I chose the former option. I also made myself take command of the Union forces, because they just looked so upbeat and chipper compared to those dowdy Confederates. With my selections made, I was ready to play. With myself (yawn). Before you start playing, there's also the option to set other stupid things that can interfere with your game.

I will tell you about them now because you're so very special. You can select bad weather- ooh, exciting! - which means you can't take a move if a rain cloud is over the forces you want to control. Uh? There's also the option to turn Mexicans on and off (something that would be amusing in real life). If you turn them on, occasionally they'll throw a bomb at any forces in Texas. Cunts! Finally, there's the reinforcement option, whereby a boat will - at random - arrive with fresh forces for whichever army is in Virginia at that time. Greedy cunts! Having deselected all of them because they confused me too much, I started the game. You choose from one of four years, with varying levels of difficulty. The final year, for example, is very easy if you're the Union side, because most of the Confederate forces have been squished. SQUISHED LIKE BUGS. With that wacky taken care of, you're into the game proper. Sorry, is that a real phrase? Game proper? Somebody get me a dictionary! And this is where I fucked up. See, the game is played on a turn-by-turn basis, with every state of America at that time a viable destination for your forces.

You click on a regiment in, say, Ohio, and can only move it to adjacent states in one turn. Fair enough. This zooba-zooba movement goes on until you move your forces into a state where the opposition already has a bastard battalion. The minute this happens, BATTLE COMMENCES. You get taken to one of three scenes; a big field, a lake or a canyon, because apparently that's the entire scenery of America. Here you do battle with no more than six soldiers, two cannons and three cavalry riders. No, really. An entire state can be won or lost on a battle which totals no more - at the very most - than twenty soldiers, including both you and the opposition. Controlling your forces is damn tricky, involving lots of stupid keyboard action. It's part of the reason I managed to lose every state I did battle in, with alarmingly quick succession. First of all, I sent my soldiers charging towards the cavalry. THEY GOT CHOPPED TO DEATH. Angry with this, I sent my cavalry towards the Confederate's soldiers. THE CAVALRY GOT SHOT TO DEATH. I also think the horses were mashed into glue. Pissed off at this point, I fired my cannons at the opposition's cannons. They missed. The opposition fired their cannons. YES, SHUT UP, THEY GOT BLOWN AWAY.

I was about to quit the game and kick my computer for about three hours when I discovered there were other diversions within North & South apart from the stupid, stupid battle scenes. Let me tell you about them! Firstly is the fun that occurs when you send your forces into a state that has a fortress in it. Instead of fighting a battle, you have to get from one end of a fort to another, fighting opposition soldiers in an attempt to swap flags and, thereby, capture the fort and the state. I never knew the Civil War was that simple. Only problem is, with my mental ability, I couldn't get to the end of the fort. I got lots of knives thrown at me by Confederate scum, and a lot of booby traps blew up in my face, but I never captured the flag. Can you sense a recurring theme yet? The other type of level is when you hijack an opposition train (carrying money for new regiments), and have to get from the back of a train to the engine in order to hijack it and get the money for your own forces. Kind of like the ending of Back To The Future Part III, but with less Michael J. Fox.

But, of course, I was shit at this too and failed miserably to capture a single train. It got quite depressing when the Confederates kept winning the Civil War because of my incompetence. So you know what I did? Started the game up again, but this time played against a human opponent. MYSELF! In every battle, I made the Confederates stand still while I took great glee in moving their forces down. State by state, I went on a killing rampage, managing to win the war in record time. Even that old beardy hoo-ha Lincoln would have been impressed. Sadly, I got bored with winning the Civil War so easily, and decided not to play the game anymore. I'm sure it's a fun diversion for a half-hour or so if you can actually play computer games. But if you're like me and have trouble even walking and chewing gum at the same time (I usually trip over, crack my head and pee my pants) then you'd best leave this alone. Besides, we all know how the Civil War turned out, so you're not missing anything if you choose not to play this game. Well, other than finding out a five-year-old could probably beat it, and then laugh in my general direction. If that's the case, FUCK YOU!


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