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Shattered Union

For the first time since its bloody Civil War the United States is in chaos! When Washington DC gets nuked on election night all hell breaks loose and several independent factions break off and put their own governments in place. Meanwhile, a bunch of Europeans who think they know what's good for America are rushing to the rescue. Shattered Union is a turn-based strategy war game where you attempt to unify the U.S. through extreme force. Invade NYC and make it your new home, steamroll over California, or put those Texans in their place. Form alliances with nation states or foreign super powers and make use of a myriad of different weapons including fighter jets and tanks. Just be sure to leave popular landmarks alone. You can blow San Francisco to kingdom come, but if you so much as scrape the Golden Gate bridge, millions of jaws will drop and you'll get your @$$ beat, so watch where you point those missiles! The battle to save America begins October 4.

Aside from Humpty Dumpty (who was just a poor unfortunate #@#$%*$), most things that break can be put back together again, and while it may not exactly look the same, it'll run just fine. Take the United States, for example. There's no blemish greater than the Civil War, but even though the North pretty much rocked the South and left it looking worse than Raccoon City in a Resident Evil game, the country fixed itself and became the world's most dominant superpower. Unfortunately, it's facing an even bigger crisis in 2K Games and PopTop Software's explosive 3D turn based strategy title Shattered Union. If the country had problems over 120 years ago, wait till you see it now.

So here's the deal. In the not too distant future the U.S. is the victim of a ridiculous amount of terrorist attacks, the most devastating being the nuke that vaporizes Washington D.C. One minute the President is celebrating his election victory and the next he, his cabinet, and the White House are vaporized. With no commander in chief/Congress, which is essentially the same as going away for the weekend and hiring a bunch of teenagers to watch your house, the country becomes totally unglued. Suddenly several states form their own unions and break off from their neighbors, becoming Greater California, New Republic of Texas, the Yankee Union (though I'm almost positive that New York and Boston will still argue over baseball), Arcadia (which is comprised of Pacific Northwest), Dixieland (I don't want to even imagine which states make that up), and finally the Heartland. Also, to make matters worse, a bunch of foreigners who call themselves the European Expeditionary Force thinks they know what America needs, but they're just sticking their noses where they don't belong. Yup, it's a real mess, as in worse than my closet.

Thankfully, providing you plunk down the cash to purchase Shattered Union, then pop it into your PC, Xbox, or PS2, and then play it, you have the power to get America running again. Able to travel across the entire country, you'll be charged with the task of uniting the states through extreme force, so you won't go into Texas looking to make nice, nice. If the powers that be won't cooperate you'll just blow $#*% up. Don't like Chicago? Level it! Is California looking at you crooked? Introduce its denizens to a new reality. Just be sure to leave all of the landmarks alone. Shattered Union is an RTS game where buildings can be leveled, bridges can be obliterated, and you can turn parks into landfills, but everyone seems to love their national treasures. It's akin to a super model battle royal, where there are no holds barred, but whatever happens, no touching the face or hair. If you destroy the Golden Gate Bridge, people will be more pissed off than when FOX cancelled Family Guy. Unfortunately for you, once it's gone you can't bring it back.

The basic goal of Shattered Union is to put people in their place. Able to play as one of the aforementioned factions, you'll travel across this great nation and beat up your neighbors. The National Guard's services are at your fingertips and you can pummel your enemies with Apache helicopters, stealth bombers, and M1 Abrams Battle Tanks, among other cool vehicles, or make sneaky pacts with other nations, so if America's weapons aren't to your liking you can ink a deal with Russia and obliterate your enemies using T-95 tanks and MiG fighters. Over 70 different types of units are at your disposal, so after building a nice little nest egg for yourself, feel free to splurge.

Gameplay is similar to Nintendo's Advance Wars series, so you'll only be able to move a select amount of spaces before ending your turn and taking what the enemy throws your way. 2K Games informed me that the controls as well as the interface will be so easy to use that just about anyone will be able to hop in and achieve quick results, a desirable feature seeing as how the publisher plans to also release the game on the PS2 and the Xbox.

What's especially cool about Shattered Union, its best feature actually, are the plethora of different environments you'll get to explore. PopTop's done an excellent job modeling the various locales, so you'll battle in the desert, in the mountains, on the grassy plains, and in congested cities, though based on what I've seen the cities aren't exactly modeled to scale. In fact, it would be difficult to know where I am had the developers not dropped landmarks into place. However, while it's difficult to look at San Francisco and think, "wow that really is San Francisco" the graphical detail is still quite impressive. Plus, the amount of destruction is also very cool. Buildings will crumble and tanks will mark up the streets.

2K Games didn't give me the opportunity to actually play Shattered Union, so all I can say at this point is the game looks intriguing and that it's probably worth checking out. Its story is without question its greatest asset, and those of you looking to turn America into your personal stomping ground or glue it back together will probably extract some enjoyment from it. Expect a full review shortly after the game's October 5 release date.

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