Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Author: unknown

Hasbro Interactive 1998



Following the booming market of computerized boardgames, Hasbro Interactive finally was daring enough to produce a game which was released years ago in the MB Gamemaster Series. With "Axis & Allies" they have chosen a classical conflict simulation, loved and adored by many players throughout the world. Even here in Germany the boardgame has found a huge fan-community, despite the fact that the boardgame was never officially released here by MB. Now the computer-game has come, but can it stand a comparison with the boardgame ?

Already the installation-procedure for the game took me some time. Looking at the box of the game, there was no hint at what resources are required to run the game. I have a Pentium 200 Mhz and the installing of the game files went smoothly, but problems did arise when I finally had to install an add-on used by "Axis & Allies", DirectX 6 from Microsoft. After the Installation the game didnīt want to start, so I had to get a new driver for my graphics-card supporting DirectX 6 from the net and additionally I first installed DirectX 5. Then I reinstalled Axis and the game started.

After the introduction, I was positively surprised to see the possible playing options at the mainscreen. The game includes the old standart 2nd edition rules for Axis, but itīs also possible to turn on the third edition rules with 2-points-Battleships, Paratroopers and much more. Here the players can freely chose what options they want to include and they can also customize the victory conditions. Furthermore, the players can also enter the unit-editor which allows them to change the price and combat abilities of the units and the start-setup of the countries.

The gameplay itself is smoothly arranged and very comfortable to use. A player goes through his turn exactly like playing the boardgame, starting with development and the buying of units, followed by combat-movement, combat and finally non-combat movement. Finally, the player places his new units and receives his income. So far - so good.


For my first testing games I have chosen to play as a single player against the computer. In my first games I took over all two / three powers of one side and left the other powers to the computer, and later I just played one single power and left the other four powers to the computer. I think I may say that I am an experienced Axis-player, and to my great disappointment the artificial intelligence of the computer-players (at the strongest level !) is not stronger then an Axis-Greenhorn. Of course, Axis isnīt a game based on pure calculation, but most of the decisions the computer makes go against any basic principles for playing Axis. On the one hand, he sends planes against impossible odds while on the other hand he doesnīt try to attack at weakly defended parts. Furthermore, the "wisdom" of the computer is limited to certain situations in the game. For example, the english player totally ignores Japan and the possibilities to buy an industrial Complex anywhere near Japan. Even with Germany on its knees, the english player still bought lots of submarines and didnīt move them away from Europe. The american player is even worse, since he doesnīt even try to start a war against Japan or to defend China or Sinkiang. He simply builds submarines to defend his western coast and then just starts one invasion in western Europa after the other. To sum it up, the artifical intelligence is a very sad part of the game and may only be used by beginners to learn some basics of the game. The game is only suitable if played in multiplayer-mode, but this comes later.

Another weakness in gameplay is the fact that (at least the german version) the game is NOT free of bugs ! Once in about 10 turns, the computer tends to create "ghost-units", which means that he simply adds an unit to an area. These units are not considered to be there in combats, but nonetheless the are shown on the war-table and cannot be removed. A perfect dead end ! The only possibility here is to stop playing and reload a saved game, since the units still appear in later saved games. In addition, there seems to be an error if a carrier with planes onboard is attacked and the planes survive. The landing procedure for these planes normally results in these "ghost-units".

The strongest and most entertaining part of the game certainly is the multiplayer-option, especially if the game is played via modem or Internet. Players owning the game and a good computer may freely join the Internet Gaming Zone. Here they can download 0.5 MB of software required to play Axis via the net, and then they can go into a special Hasbro Interactive area. There they will find a special Axis-room, and in this room they will find players from all over the world ready to play a game. So players can meet there with friends from near or far, or they can simply ask whether anybody wants to play a round. The options for these games can be set freely, and the number of players may vary from two to five. In the game itself the players can open a chat-window (by hitting īCī - the window is removed by hitting īEscapeī). In this window they can chat with the other players and thus quite a good gaming atmosphere will arise. But when playing in the net the same computer-errors apply, so itīs my best tip to save after each moving-phase ! If an error should arise, itīs the only sollution to stop the game, leave it and go back to the gameroom in the Gaming Zone. From there the hosting player may restart the game with the last saved game and playing may continue. An error can be ignored at NO possibility, since it will sooner or later always result in a crash.

As a final word concerning Internet-playing I must point out the bad assistance supplied by the Hotline of Hasbro Interactive Germany. They were able to help me to run the game on my computer, but when I wanted to ask them something about the configuration for Internet-play they simply pointed out that they were just concerned with the game and that they have no responsibility whatsoever for Internet-playing. To my mind, this is absolutely ridicolous since the box of Axis already talks about the possibility of Internet-playing. Itīs by no means fair to lure a gamer into buying the game with this advertisement and then let him stand alone without any kind of advice.

To sum it up, I think that the PC-version of Axis can still be recommended to players who want to play with others via the Internet, but they must fulfill the following requirements:

  • A good computer (at least Pentium 133 Mhz, 16 or 32 MB Ram and a good modem)
  • Some knowledge about configuring Hardware and Software under Windows 95
  • Good in english in order to understand the procedures at the Gaming Zone
  • Enough patience to save often !
On the other hand, the game cannot be recommended to Axis-players who simply want to play against the computer since the artificial intelligence is too weak. And since the boardgame is still in print, buying the boardgame is always preferable if the other players are nearby...

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany