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!


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