The original Universal Military Simulator was one of the great successes in the wargaming genre. Several UMS scenarios were released following its acclaim, featuring the Vietnam conflict, the American Civil War and Napoleon's Waterloo. Die-hard wargamers at last had something near the power of a good board game.
But like war itself UMS has escalated. The next logical advance - global conflict replaces the mere corner of a foreign field. Now anywhere is capable of being an arena of mass-destruction.
New model army
The reason for this is simple - UMS's designers, Intergalactic Development Inc, felt a need to simulate modern-day warfare, especially great battles like World War Two, which could not be represented in the old-style UMS. The solution was to start again, and attempt to represent the whole of the planet Earth. The digitising of the world was a difficult, but not impossible, task which turned out very well.
The process yielded some interesting side effects, which were included in UMS II features weather systems, temperature zones, thunderstorms and barometric pressure variations all over the Earth's surface. These factors are taken into consideration while you fight. Fancy an attack over occupied France when the rain is chucking down? Not me!
Aside from the Ian McGaskill-type extras, UMS II is miles more advanced than its predecessor. It has improved battle-algorithms which take into account things like government control. You can now influence the way your armies fight by altering the amount of money spent 'back home' on rebuilding, producing more weapons and so on.
Production budgets and tax rates can affect the population, which in turn affects a parameter known as National Will. A country with a low will fights badly and produces less - so the emphasis on state control and planning is increased in UMS II.
Other new elements of the conflict systems include transport capability and battle reports. These enable you to ship units all over the world, using point-and-click type controls to direct the various units. Units can be made to transport other units - like ships carrying infantry, planes carrying paratroops - and these can all be deployed as the battle progresses.
Finding how battles are proceeding is easy, despite the possibility of many more simultaneous fire fights than was possible in UMS. Battle reports appear whenever two units come into contact, and you have the choice to pile in and assist, or give the order to retreat - or you can just leave them to get on with it, while hoping for the best.
UMS II is supplied with three scenarios - Alexander the Great's stomp of AD 334, the D-Day landings in 1944 and Napoleon's triumphs of 1805. More are promised for the future. Each of the scenarios can be played repeatedly, attempting different strategies and playing whichever side you desire. You can even play both sides (or more than two in the case of Alexander's foes) for true sado-machochism!