At the risk of breaking with tradition, spoiling the suspense and making the rest of this review redundant, The Perfect General is actually quite a splendid war-game. As mentioned proudly (several times) in the 90 pages of instructions, it's based on an acclaimed, manual war-game system. You know, the kind that bearded men die of old age before completing.
Sadly, as with so many others of its ilk, it still hasn't managed to get its act together in the presentation department. It takes a good 30 minutes to install on to two floppies and there's a fair amount of disk-swapping once you're up and running, though presumably the hard-drive option speeds things along no end.
Once in the game you'll find the graphics reasonably clear but extremely boring, and the sound restricted to a few plinks and some fairly dire samples when any unit fires on the enemy. In its favour the user interface is very well thought out, with hot keys for every command, although the game's tendency to quit out when you cancel a disk option can cause some snapped nerves.
OK, enough gripes about the front end. Where it scores highly is in the game itself. It's a standard taking-turns-to-move-the-icons-about-the-hexagonal-map affair, but the rules have been honed to a shiny and altogether satisfying point. It's an exciting, absorbing game. In each of the 14 scenarios, ranging from simple skirmishes to full-scale sieges, your job is to fight off the opposition and take control of various towns and cities.
The various units you command have finely-balanced strengths and weaknesses and for added fun you can give the enemy a rather nasty surprise by instructing your chaps to return fire when hit or open up on any passing unit during the others' turn. Although the two-player mode is best, the Amiga plays a mean game itself, drawing an opponent profile at random from a large selection of cunning generals.
I loved this game. It's incredibly easy to grasp the rules, and hellishly good fun trying to outwit and outdo your opponent. The somewhat pedestrian pace of play is soon forgotten when the shells begin to fly and the chess-like combination of simple rules and deep strategy means tons of lasting appeal. Almost perfect.