War the Game16 Feb 2015 0
Initially released last year through Desura, and in January this year on Steam, War, the Game developed by Obbe Vermeij (who worked on the GTA franchise for Rockstar) managed to avoid getting a review here on Wargamer.com. Apologies to Obbe for this oversight which we will now correct; read on...
War, the Game may be best described as a somewhat pared down, bare bones RTS; a game that requires you to really think about your strategy, but at the same time keeps the gameplay simple and understandable so as to hopefully not stand between you and what you want to do. As the game is played on a global scale this is no bad thing – the globe is a big place after all.
There are seven standard types of units available to the player and one special weapon. The normal units are: infantry, armour, fighters, bombers, aircraft carriers, war fleets and transport fleets. The special weapons are tactical nuclear missiles. No real surprises there, and as mentioned it is all pared back to the basics. Each unit has a unique, simple icon to identify it – a tank for armoured units, a square of soldiers for infantry, and so on. Each side has a different colour for its units and all this ensures that identifying what a unit is and which side it is on is straight forward. All in all this lives up to the design concept nicely.
As mentioned the game is played on a globe of the Earth (which looks pretty neat it must be said). Players can zoom in and out and move around the world quickly and easily using just the mouse and the mouse-wheel. Moving around the globe is straight forward pointing and clicking. There are some useful shortcuts available such as holding down the mouse button over a unit for a longer period, then doing the same on another unit, to group them. Grouped units act as an army that will arrive at a destination at the same time which means that your units can make a co-ordinated attack rather than arriving, and no doubt being destroyed, piecemeal. Some actions are activated by a “long” mouse click rather than a normal click – which is a nice way of adding extra controls to the mouse rather than using short cut keys or mouse + key combinations.
The game comprises a number of scenarios of varying difficulty. In each the player takes the role of the supreme military commander of one side, while the AI controls the other. I’m afraid there is no multi-player mode for War, the Game so you are reliant on the capability of the AI to provide a challenge. Fortunately the AI is pretty good and does provide a challenge. That said, a multi-player option would be nice sometime in the future. The scenarios set out objectives that the player must complete in order to win. The scenarios can run from very simple to complex wars. The introductory battle, for example, pits just two US infantry and one US armour unit against one infantry and one armoured unit from Iraq. The more complex scenarios have many more units involved and cover a larger geographical area. All the scenarios have to be solved by military means, there’s absolutely no diplomacy option in the game. Also there’s no researching new technology to be done, and everyone’s units are identical in terms of abilities – as I said, pared down RTS.
Controlling major cities is a primary strategic goal. Cities generate income and they also generally hold the barracks that train infantry and armour brigades. They have the factories that produce aircraft, and ports that build ships. Thus cities are the key strategic objectives in the game, and the scenario’s goals relate to the capturing or holding of cities.
All the standard combat units have the same combat strength – thus, for example, an infantry and armoured unit fight exactly the same. However, that is just looking at their combat ability and there are other differences which will impact on a players choices in the game. For example, infantry are cheap and they are the only units that can captures cities – which as noted above is rather important. Additionally they can defend cities with twice their usual combat strength. Their big downside is that they are slow moving compared with other units. Armour units, on the other hand, are more expensive and moves much faster than infantry but can’t capture the cities. Air units are more expensive than armour units. Unlike land units air units can enter and leave a battle, whereas infantry and armour when they are committed to battle must see it through to the bitter end be that victory or defeat. These differences whilst quite basic in many ways actually add up to provide a range of options for the player and some real tactical and strategic decisions to be made. The special unit – the nukes – cost way more than any other but can destroy multiple infantry units in a single strike – but note that it is only infantry which suffer, again giving the player choices to make.
One thing I was surprised to see is that there is no “fog of war” in the game. Rather like many boardgames you can see exactly what your opponent has – and, of course, they can see what you have. Therefore, there are no surprises and, to some degree, the game can become just a mathematical exercise in building up the necessary number of units in the right place and letting attrition have its way.
What we have in War, the Game, is a pretty successful attempt at creating an easy to learn, easy to play, challenging and enjoyable “back to the basics” RTS game. The AI is good enough that you have to think about what you are doing and make the right choices in force composition and strategy. The biggest niggles I have with the game is the lack of “fog of war” and multi-player.
The game is a very reasonable £6.99/$9.99 on Steam and at that price you really can’t go wrong in giving it a punt.
There are a number of game play videos available on the game’s website if you want to look a bit more before committing - http://www.warthegame.net/game-play-videos.html