Added 27 July 2000
Allied General appeared in 1995, hot on the heels of its seminal predecessor Panzer General. Allied General did not appear to be as popular, and I only saw copies two or three years after I bought Panzer General: all were selling at the low price of £9.99 or even (shock horror) £4.99. By this time, though, Panzer General II was in the shops, so the cost saving was understandable.
The basic mechanics of the game are the same as in Panzer General. The only real difference in the interface seems to be that you have to click on the sidebars to scroll the map if you want to move a unit off it, which is a tad inconvenient but not a major problem. The maps are very similar in style to the ones in Panzer General, nicely painted without being too cluttered with detail. The unit icons also follow the same pattern as in PG. One nice improvement is that this time SSI added a manual in paper form, rather than forcing the user to rely on an online version in text format.
There are over thirty scenarios and three campaign games in the package. To take the scenarios first, most pit the Allied player against a German order of battle, while a few offer some opposing Italian units in addition or exclusively. The range offered is somewhat narrower than those in PG: only two, if I remember correctly, are hypothetical (Cairo, defending against a Rommel fresh from victory at El Alamein or Crusader, and Norway 1944, a cherished scheme of Churchill's), and none of the Western Allied ones take place before the latter part of 1940: thus there is no defence of France, Norway or Greece against the Blitzkrieg. However, the Western Allies do get a chance to race to Berlin before the Russians in their final scenario.
The campaigns offered are those for the British, the Americans or the Russians. The British is a good one to play first as an introduction since the first scenario is a pretty easy one against a weak Italian side in 1940 in the desert. After that the British must take on the Germans in the desert, culminating in either victory in Tunisia or defeat in the Nile Delta. If you win in Tunisia you can then proceed (together with all your experienced units) to the Western Europe campaign, landing initially in Sicily with the ultimate goal of reaching Berlin via Normandy and (quirkily) Norway. The US player starts in late 1942 in Operation Torch, again with a fairly straightforward scenario against a force of Vichy French and Germans. If you do well enough here you can avoid Kasserine and follow the same path as the British, ie Tunisia-Sicily-France-Germany, although some of the scenarios are slightly different.
By far the most difficult campaign is the Russian one. Although the introductory scenario is against Finland, this is far from easy to win at all, let alone triumph with a huge points bonus. After that your forces have to fight off a veritable blitzkrieg by experienced German forces who usually have complete air superiority and units possessing greater initiative. Whereas I would have liked to see an early campaign (pre-June 1940) for the British, I would also have liked to see a separate, mid-to-late war campaign for the Russians, since the 1941 battles are so tough they are offputting. Still, a challenging game at least keeps you coming back for more. There are also one or two gaps, eg Russia's campaign against the Poles in September 1939 and the final drive into Manchuria against the Japanese.
All in all, though, Allied General is a straightforward and enjoyable game. With the advent of Panzer General II you now have the option to play campaigns as the German or the British, American or Russian, so this looks to be the way forward for SSI's 5-star general games.
For what it's worth, here are Cyberlizard's playing tips:
A number of people have added home pages for Allied General and even written patch and add-ons. As I find these sites I will insert links for them here.