REVIEW: General Chaos


General Chaos is a real-time squad-based tactical game where you face off against similarly outfitted enemies on one-screen battlefields. Play takes place entirely on the tactical level. There is no resource management or strategic positioning between battles. The only thing that follows you from one battle to the next is your number of remaining medics (which revive the dead). In this sense, General Chaos is a very straightforward experience. But even considering its simplicity there are lots of interesting tactical calls to be made.

Battle starts by selecting 1 of 4 pre-assembled squads. Each squad consists of 5 units of various classes (machine gunners, grenadiers, demo guys, etc.). The different classes all fill important niches. For instance, using grenades to scare enemies from behind a bunker while your flamethrowers wait on either side. Or using long-range rockets to force your enemies across a river while machineguns tear them up. The well-designed maps, with lots of cover and choke points, encourage this type of play.

While all the right components are in place, still, after playing this game for several years, I’m not used to the control scheme, which is so awkward that I play using 3 fingers on the buttons. Also, annoyingly, your troops are sluggish or sometimes entirely unresponsive. And it’s impossible to sort out messy close-quarters combat—granted, good tactics involves preventing these melees. Finally, there is the boring and arbitrary hand-to-hand combat mini-game during which everything freezes and a tedious exchange of punches and kicks begins. It’s broken and random and brings the action to grinding halt.

Control and dumb mini-game complaints aside, General Chaos is a uniquely pure tactical experience that is easy to like. There are 2 player co-op and versus modes, and even a 4 player mode for those with the proper hardware—a nice multiplayer touch is the ability to secretly select your squad (a bit like the play selection in Tecmo Superbowl). Single player is just as engaging with lots of maps and brutal, cheating AI. Also not to be missed is the comic book in the manual, made of edited screenshots with lines like, “Vast armies were drawn back and forth across the landscape like bedclothes. There was no snooze alarm to postpone the carnage.”



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