History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PS2
History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions box art
System: X360, PS3, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Cauldron Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision / Blizzard 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 04, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Enemy A.I., for the most part, is laughable. Troops will stay stationed behind cover and rarely advance on your position. If they do, they'll flail their arms around attempting a miserable melee attack. They also completely ignore grenades. Tossing an explosive in their direction doesn't net an intelligible response, so instead of troops scrambling, they simply wait for the inevitable eruption. Since grenades are so plentiful and effective, you can finish a lot of sections using nothing but them.

History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions screenshot

Animation is not the game's strong suit. If you throw a grenade beneath someone's feet, they'll launch 30 feet into the air. Instead of landing on the ground, they'll disappear in the middle of the air. Likewise, hit detection doesn't correlate to believable animations. Shooting an enemy in the face may make them buckle over their knees or grab their arm. Combat aside, it's impossible for soldiers to stay still. During cutscenes it seems like they have constant jitters, dancing back and forth to an inaudible music selection. All these animation oddities are paired with clipping issues that cause fellow soldiers to get stuck in objects.

To insert some variety, the developers toss in the occasional vehicle mission that may have you firing a Gatling gun from a train or manning a cannon in an ironclad battleship, but these are really attempts at artificial diversity, as all you're doing is shooting as many objects as possible with a different weapon. Depending on your skill – simply the amount of people you kill – you'll get skill points that you can use before the start of a mission. You can use these to give your character a perk, like 50 percent more ammo or 50 percent faster health regeneration, but the game is ridiculously easy, making these bonuses unnecessary.

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History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions treats what should be a rich historical palate as a first-person shooter backdrop and nothing more. Both parties – history buffs and shooter fans – will be disappointed. This is essentially Battle for the Pacific re-skinned and repackaged.

By Jason Lauritzen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
2.9
Graphics
Aside from the occasional bit of impressive texture work, it's hard not to notice animation oddities and weird clipping.
3.5
Control
The standard run-and-gun stuff works fine, but errors from Cauldron's last game – like wonky hit detection and ineffective scope aiming – carry over to this title.
2.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voice samples repeat often and the History Channel clips that play before levels are too brief, never divvying out an ample amount of historical information.
2.0
Play Value
Knocking $10 off the cover charge doesn't make up for the extremely generic and short single-player campaign. With no multiplayer to speak of, there's little reason for this title to occupy more than an afternoon's time.
2.6
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Assume the role of Union and Confederate soldiers fighting behind enemy lines in legendary battles.
  • Your goal is to disrupt the armies of both the North and the South by any means necessary, including conducting train raids, stealing ironclad ships, stopping enemy supply lines, destroying enemy artillery, and more.
  • All events are drawn from the real life actions of famous partisans, scouts, and rangers.
  • Fight as a member of Mosby's Rangers, Sheridan's Scouts, and Grant's Secret Service.
  • Receive your mission commands from famous generals including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Ulysses Grant.


  • Screenshots / Images
    History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions screenshot - click to enlarge History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions screenshot - click to enlarge History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions screenshot - click to enlarge History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions screenshot - click to enlarge

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