The Washington Post – For those who say that learning history can be dull, Making History: The Calm & the Storm attempts to rebut that by transporting players into leadership roles in the 1930s and ’40s. The original game only allows you to lead the major combat nations of World War II, but a recent patch allows almost any nation to be played.

You control almost every aspect of your chosen nation, including economic and production goals, scientific research, military strategy, foreign relations, world trade, infrastructure investment and its economy.

You’ll quickly learn that the geopolitical climate before World War II was not easy to navigate. Sure, you may want to take a stab at Germany before the Nazis begin their rampage, but they are already fairly strong. Nations that could oppose them directly, such as France, are in a terrible recession, so supporting a grand army isn’t really possible. Plus, nobody really wants to ally with anyone else. Instead, every nation is looking out for its own interests. That may seem shortsighted, but it makes perfect sense when you see the scenario unfolding.

Say you are playing Italy. England and France are your friends initially, but Germany’s emerging fascist government has borrowed many of your ideals. And requests for aid from fascists fighting a civil war in Spain can’t be ignored, even though that may weaken ties with friendly nations. It’s easy to see how Italy could be lured into the Axis sphere of power.

Or you could play as Germany or Japan. Perhaps you won’t attack right away, because diplomacy might be more useful at first. Perhaps you won’t strike at all, though playing a peaceful Germany or Japan is a sure route to a crashing economy, as you will find out if you try.

Making History is turn-based, so you won’t feel rushed to make decisions. Each turn represents one week, so it may take many turns to move armies and fleets, or to produce new units. As in real life, time often is not on your side.

Given the detailed economy and diplomacy interface, it’s surprising to find that combat is somewhat simplistic. It’s basically a numbers game with little player interaction once begun.

Making History isn’t the best war game, but it’s one of the best titles for learning why wars happen.
— John Breeden II

Making History: The Calm and the Storm; PC Windows XP/2000/Vista ($40)


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.