The latest in a series of TalonSoft's 'Campaign Series', Divided Ground: Middle East Conflict focuses on the events of 1948 up until 1973 within the Middle East. Gameplay is set from an isometric point of view, but offers almost no noticeable 3D element. While the game clearly isn't 3D in the sense that Emperor: Battle for Dune or similar real time strategy titles are, the title runs on an engine so old it's more reminiscent of the original Command & Conquer than it is of anything that has come out in the last couple of years.
The game works in 'Hex' formations, that is that movement, attack, defense and general unit placement works within hexagons which divide the playing field, similar to the Close Combat series. This gives the game a feel not unlike that of a board game. The players main options are listed on a bar which sits along the bottom of the screen, like the task bar in Microsoft's Windows applications. From here, you can command your units to perform differing actions, attack units and structures, defend areas of terrain etc. Don't get caught up in the lack of a current 3d visuals, too many get caught up in eye candy and not enough in actual gameplay. This isn't to say that there isn't a decent game lurking behind the lackluster visuals, there is, but it's belittled by the superiority of older games in the Campaign series - the fact that an engine approaching five years of age is still being employed and errors are still present, married with the lack of brilliant options such as the random scenario generator from Rising Sun do draw attention to the game's shortcomings.
Visually, the title is just about the most unimpressive game being released this year. This is as much to do with the choice of setting than any real flaw on the developers part though. How many ways can you make a desert look appealing? Sand is sand is sand. Some of the previous titles in this series were able to use the jungles and other theatres to make them look kinder on the eye. The game has two viewing modes, one where '3D' units are represented in a predominately 2D isometric environment, and the other viewed from above like a chess board, representing units as squares. Neither are impressive in any sense, so if you are looking for impressive visuals and you don't enjoy hardball strategy then your not going to find much to like here. The game's twenty-two stand alone scenarios will keep you entertained for a time, but with this type of game there isn't much replay value here. The real gem in terms of longevity would be, I imagine, multiplayer battles. With support for up to sixteen players, the game would be a blast - but finding one person, let alone sixteen, who is prepared to learn the game and present you with a challenge might be difficult.
If you have been a fan of this series then this won't disapoint you, you know exactly what you get: A nice turn-based strategy game that uses a period of war that other have forgoton. If you are new to this series, this is not the place to start, you just wont be able to get into it like the others who have spent alot of time learning the game.
Processor: 100% PC compatible
Operating System: WindowsTM 95/98/Millennium
CPU: PentiumTM 133 or higher processor
RAM: 32 MB RAM
Hard Drive Space: 150 MB free
Graphics: 16-bit High Color SVGA graphics
Sound Card: DirectX compatible
Keyboard & Mouse: MicrosoftTM compatible
P3 1.000 / 512mb Ram / WinME
Guillemot 3D Prophet Geforce2 Pro