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Allow me to be frank for one moment and say that grand strategy games, like Making History II, are not my forte. Plop me down in front of a classic RTS like StarCraft or Command and Conquer and I can hold my own. Hell, I can even enjoy a game like Sins of a Solar Empire, which features aspects of grand strategy titles.

Maybe my dislike for this genre comes from the presumption that the games tend to be more about managing your economy, politics, and research, rather than crushing your opponents. It may also have something to do with the fact that most grand strategy titles are turn based, which wreaks havoc on my obsessive compulsive nature.

Regardless of my dislike for the genre, I still see the merit of these games. I am in no way saying that grand strategy titles are not fun. In fact, I very much enjoyed some aspects of Making History II, which I will discuss later on.  But, enough of my disclaimers and on with the review.

For those of you who don’t know, Making History II is a grand strategy game made for grand strategy gamers. If you get down with micromanaging nations you’ll love this title. Those who are looking for a intense strategy experience are better off waiting until StarCraft 2.

Basically, Making History II is a World War II strategy game much in the vein of the Hearts of Iron series. First, players must select a scenario to set the stage of what’s going on in the world. For example, the scenario “The German Question” starts you off in the middle of in 1933, just a few years before WWII started.

These scenarios play a big role in determining your play style. In “The German Question”, if you are playing as the U.S.A. you’re going to be starting the game in the heart of the Great Depression. Needless to say, that makes a major difference in strategy compared to if you were to start in the booming 20′s.

In total, Making History II comes with three scenarios. However, there is support for user made content and Muzzy Lane has stated that it will roll out more as time goes on.

Once you have a scenario selected, you then have to pick which country to play as. I can honestly say that I think Muzzy Games has included every country that existed during this time period. It is really amazing to consider that, if I wanted to, I could experience what Tibet was dealing with during WWII.

Gameplay breaks down into a complex juggling act where you must manage your nation’s economy, politics, and war effort. The funny thing is, the complexity of managing these aspects isn’t due to the interface. In fact, the game provides you with easy-to-navigate lists that allow you to control your country. The complexity comes from the options available to you.

Should Boston be producing goods to increase my income via trade, or should I be building a factory there to increase IPUs for a stronger war effort? Should I be researching new infantry weapons or would my money and time be better spent on developing better airplanes? While playing Making History II you will be making hundreds of decisions like this every turn.

In terms of combat, Making History II is somewhat complex. Each unit has three statistics: Land Attack, Land Defense, and Air Attack. These values represent the unit’s combat effectiveness versus other unit groups. While this may seem simple at first, consider that you will be moving armies which consist of many units stacked on top of each other, all with varying stats and movement speeds.

All of the action in Making History II takes place on the world map, which is relatively detailed and shows the effects of different types of climates, terrain, and resources. The real shame is that the map is the only thing that looks decent.

I understand that Muzzy Lane is an independent developer and lacks the resources of a major studio like Relic, but that is still no excuse for releasing a game with poor animations and lackluster visuals. I mean, independent developers release games when they feel they are ready; that’s what makes indie devs so great. While it’s not game breaking, the shoddy visuals are sure to drive some gamers away.

Another complaint I have about Making History II is that it offers no help to the player. Maybe I’m losing my gamer’s edge in my old age, but any game that is this complex and doesn’t have a built-in tutorial is asking for trouble. My first few times trying to play the game resulted in catastrophe.

I couldn’t figure out how to move units, let alone decide on which technologies to research and what goods each city should produce. It wasn’t until Muzzy Lane released a guide walking you though the first 10 turns that I really began to understand the game. Even then, I still had to spend hours trying to figure out what was going on.

Some other things that bothered me include: the game is missing an end of turn summary informing you what your opponents did, the online multiplayer component is not yet added in the game (I emailed Muzzy Lane about this and they said it will be added in a month), and there is minimal control over the options (no sound control, etc.).

This is representative of my overall experience with Making History II. There are numerous small problems that could be fixed by a patch. However, until then you’ll be left with the impression that the game was rushed.

What I found myself enjoying most about Making History II is its potential. If you check out Muzzy Lane’s Making-History.com site, you’ll see plenty of user made scenarios for the first title, as well as hundreds of forum posts discussing the game. Seeing such a dedicated community makes me optimistic for Making History II‘s future, to say the least.

Going along the same lines, another thing I like about Making History II is that that Muzzy Lane is deeply invested in the game and the community. If you have a suggestion, a problem, or just want to share your thoughts, Muzzy Lane will listen to you and maybe implement your idea in a patch. You can see evidence of this in the forums.

The funny thing is, while playing this game I realized something: Making History II isn’t really a game, but rather a learning tool. I can imagine college courses on political science or history utilizing this game to demonstrate how various decisions had such drastic effects on the way the modern world works. While I may not have enjoyed myself as much playing Making History II as if I were playing Left 4 Dead, I can honestly say I learned more, which is an achievement as far as I’m concerned.

To me, this game is a lot like watching a documentary on quantum physics; I may not understand it, I may not be able to apply it, but when it’s all said and done I’m better for watching it because I learned something.

All in all, Making History II is a solid strategy game. Sure, it may need a coat of paint or two to gloss things up, but at its core the mechanics are all there. If you enjoy turn-based grand strategy games, Making History II is right up your alley. If you are new to the genre (or just suck at it like me), you may want to start with something a bit more simple like Sins of a Solar Empire until you gain your strategy bearings.

Rating Category
6.0 Presentation
The visuals get the job done, but aren't likely to impress. Also, a missing tutorial spells disaster for newcomers.
How does our scoring system work?
7.0 Gameplay
The game mechanics are all there to make a great grand strategy title. There just needs to be a bit more streamlining and optimization of the interface.
7.0 Sound
The music is appropriate and the sound effects are passable. Overall, I'd say it doesn't detract from the game.
9.0 Longevity
With almost every country that existed during WWII in the game, there are endless possibilities in terms of replayability.
7.0 Overall
Making History II is a game for grand strategy gamers. If you've never tried the genre, I'd look elsewhere before cutting your teeth here.

  1. avatar CriticColorado

    The game is plagued with crashes, freezes, and an AI that takes 5 minutes to process a turn…the score should be 4.0 A 7.0 score implies the game actually works !

    • Sorry it’s not working for you man. Everything ran smoothly on my system… What are your specs?

    • Also, I’d consider posting on the Making-History.com forums. Muzzy Lane is pretty in touch with their community and will probably be able to help you out.

  2. avatar Game not system

    New Asus G73 quad i7 ATI HD 5870 60 terrabyte hard drive less than 3 months old…go to the company forum and actually “read” the problems…you haven’t been there have you?

    • I have been there and have “read” the posts. I’m sorry they don’t have an answer for you yet. I was just trying to help…

  3. avatar Gen. Patton

    Wrong, all wrong. This game is pretty bad. You’re better off buying MH1 for $5. it’s a way better game.

    This game took MH 2 steps backwards.

    Maybe in a year or 2 they will fix this, and that is when you should buy it. it will go down in price to like $5-10 and you’ll play it like it was meant to be played, just like MH1 is now.

    Right now it is a mess, don’t waste your money. I cannot recommend this game to anyone and keep my good conscience. DON’T BUY IT YET.

    I do recommend HoI 3 though. It is a similar game, but a lot deeper, and RTS not TBS. It came out last year and they finally fixed a lot of the issues in that game, and it’s cheap now. THIS IS WHEN YOU BUY.

    - Gen. Patton

    • avatar Rose

      I really aprcepiate the comments from the many parents. I have for many years thought about moving to France. I just completed my Masters. I worried that since my children are 10 and 12, it will be difficult for them to learn the language. But after reading the comments including the desire for my children to move to France, I feel they will be okay. Another concern, teaching english is a good opportunity, or there other options for work like with non-profits. My french on a scale of 5, is a 2.5. Have not spoken in over five years, but read find. Kind regards, Tasha

  4. avatar Nats

    I agree with the alst post this game is bugged. IT will probably end up being a very good game but at the moment dont buy it till its all fixed. This review makes it siound far beetter than the game presently is, reviewers should review what they have in front of them not what the potential is. I disagree however with the recommendation of Hearts of Iron 3 which for me is almost just a messed up. Its got a recent expansion, which you have to buy, which fixes ‘some’ of its problems. I would recommend either Making History 1 or Hearts of Iron 2 Doomsday till both MH2 and HOI3 are doing what they are supposed to be doing ie representing WW2 in a challenging and fun way (will take six months to a years time probably for both games).

  5. avatar Gen. Patton

    Hearts of Iron 3 is very playable now. Not perfect, but still good. It was $5 during the steam sale, and like $11 at Amazon right now. It is worth it.

  6. avatar apexearth

    On my first game of MH2 I played as China. My goal was to defeat the oppressive Japanese (if they chose to be oppressive). I spent the beginning of the game building up an economy and getting some research underway. I was a little slow off the bat due to my lack of knowledge on how to play. Eventually I gained pace and in 1939 Japan and Manchuria declared war on me. At this point I didn’t have much of an army and I was a little worried (I like to start slow by building a large economy in most games). A few months passed and then Japan did a naval invasion of my capital city. They took it over as I didn’t expect them to sail up river to conquer my inland regions. I quickly took it back with minimal effort and made sure I left an army there at all times. From this point forward I did everything I had been doing except shifting 20% of my efforts to war-making. Japan wasn’t doing anything but sending invasions to the same spot. But I’m good at predicting predictable AI and had a very big army there which guaranteed few casualties on my part. The AI is set to Normal in this game. So I’m getting excited at this part because I can finally make various types of naval vessels. I decide to invade Manchuria. I conquer Manchuria in about 25 turns. I had to retreat twice as their armies were pretty formidable and the loss of an army would have meant the possible loss of northeast China. Anyhow, it was easy. A year later in the game I had a decent navy and bigger armies so I went and invaded Japan. That was even easier than Manchuria. They had a very big navy though! Of course, it stayed on the other side of the Japanese Islands and never attacked me. I conquered their spread-out land forces with ease and was then extremely dissappointed. That was it? That was the end-result of my hours of play? Seriously? The AI was absolutely terrible. I was never attacked anywhere but that ONE REGION which was attacked over and over by tiny armies. I NEVER had to deal with Japan’s Navy. Japan was ONLY at war with me for most of the time. The only reason I’m posting this is to rant and to see if anyone else has to deal with AI like this…

  7. avatar apexearth

    My second game is a South American Conquest by Argentina. It is proving more challenging and therefore I assume the AI is just terrible at naval invasions. It still is not too difficult on Normal AI and I see the AI passing up many opportunities. The AI just doesn’t seem aggressive enough. He’ll have my armies bottled up somewhere and he will have chances to sneak around the front lines with other troops but never takes the opportunity. This allows me to have fewer, larger armies which are much better at conquering his spread-out forces. This is definitely more fun than the last game. Brazil is a CHALLENGE to defeat! :)

  8. avatar John

    I am playing Brazil, managed to invade and take over all the countries in South America, including Argentina. I then pour everything into building industry and research. Once I had level V tanks, I joined the German/Japan alliance and drove up Central America. Once Mexico was defeated, I invaded Texas and California.

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