Retro Resolution Retro Review
System: Sega Megadrive / Genesis
Developer: Game Refuge, Inc
Publisher: Electronic Arts
War is Hell, a hell of a lot of fun that is, in Electronic Arts’ 1993 title General Chaos. The game immerses the player in a frantic small scale war raging across a wide variety of pseudo three-dimensional single screen backdrops; The battlefield is rendered in a bright, colourful cartoon style reminiscent of SNK’s supreme Metal Slug.
Prior to commencement of battle the players assemble a five-man squad of gung-ho heroes, mixing and matching at will from amongst machine gunners, flame-thrower bearers, grenadiers, and rocket launchers. The different soldier classes muster different capabilities, including varied weapon ranges and instant-kill attacks. One of the five available soldiers appears for all the world to be U2 front-man Bono’s evil alter-ego; sporting wrap-around shades and wielding a flamethrower, world peace seems the last thing on this guy’s agenda.
The player’s squad is controlled via a simple and effective point-and-click interface; a large cursor is guided to a suitable location, to which the currently selected squad member can be commanded either to run, or directed to unleash their arsenal.
The varied battlefields feature obstacles to navigate or hide behind, engendering a strategic element to the frenetic proceedings. Certain levels feature ponds and rivers which can be crossed via handily-placed logs, or forded by wading; sending a flame-thrower bearer across water causes his weapon to be temporarily disabled, capable only of firing suitably comically rendered bubbles…
Engagements are not limited to weaponry, as evidenced by Close Combat, one of the game’s simplest and most inspired elements; in the heat of battle a collision between two enemy soldiers sees the aggrieved parties engage in a spot of fisticuffs, employing slightly ‘modified’ Queensbury rules (kicking is also allowed, as is knifing a stricken opponent!)
Like its contemporary Micro Machines, General Chaos may best be thought of as an example of what are now termed ‘party games’; single player mode, whilst initially engaging, unfortunately lacks depth and longevity, however the same cannot be said of the splendid multitap-compatible cooperative and battle modes, in which the action is suitably chaotic, frantic, and evokes bitter rivalry both on-screen and off.
War – what is it good for? Hours of explosive entertainment, that’s what.
Author’s note: a version of this review previously appeared in an issue of Retro Gamer magazine, for which I am both flattered and grateful.
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