Review of Micropose PC Diplomacy
By Dave Hemke 1/12/99
I picked up the game last night, and, despite the poor
press, was disappointed.
First, the game is bloatware. I encountered this same thing
with Computer Axis and Allies. Computer Dip was nearly unplayable on my P166
Desktop, and was still very sluggish on my 233 Desktop. There is simply no
reason the game should be such a poor performer. There are, like A&A, no
fancy graphics or constant calculations (except in Dip phase) to be made. The
programmers just did a shoddy job, following typical MS programming philosophy
of using hardware to cover up piss poor software. Have a little pride in your
work. At one point in time, it was a mark of excellence to achieve the smallest
and/or fastest executable. I suppose that went out the door some time ago, as
"programmers" have been weaned on development tools such as Visual
Basic. Anyway, this is one mark against the game.
Two, the interface, as has already been remarked, is
cumbersome and counter intuitive. The negotiation interface is a chore to use,
but this only really affects games using the computer AI, which I will wager
will be few and far between. There is no way (or none I found) to directly enter
values during the setup phase, so to change the time for diplomacy from 30
minutes to 15 minutes, one must click 'down' 30 times (30 second intervals).
Yeah, very user friendly. The method used to enter and display orders is awful.
Everytime you click a unit, you must specify "move, support, hold, or
convoy." A default setting, or use of the secondary (tertiary) mouse button
would have been nice. It is almost impossible to determine from the visuals
whether two units are being ordered into the same province, or if one is
supporting the other. Hasbro could have taken some tips from freeware programs
such as RealPolitik on this one - far more elegant and functional. During the
orders resolution phase, it is very difficult to figure out what is going on.
Some units seemed to be skipped over and forgotten or referenced in an
apparently random order. Again, piss poor visual aids ('arrows') make this far
more confusing than it should be. The only positive thing I have to say about
the interface is that I do like how all possible moves are highlighted when
selecting a unit. Nice touch.
Third, the AI is just as bad, or worse, than everyone else
has made it out to be. I also witnessed the Italian Tunisian Expeditionary Force
patrolling the coast of North Africa for an entire game, Russia unwaveringly
ordering SEV-RUM and UKR-RUM from F1901M onward, France seemingly forgetting
about the army in Portugal and the fleet in Spain (sc) for the entire game,
England building two additional armies to augment the one it began with. and
never convoying any of them outside the sceptre'd isle, et al.
I would not recommend this game to anyone, nor can I see it
possibly being a positive introduction to our fine hobby.
In sum: Yuck!