Cast your mind back a few years and you may well recall a plucky little WWII strategy game going by the name of Soldiers: Heroes of World War II. It was great. Despite this, it didn%26rsquo;t sell as many copies as it should have, but it did well enough to be rewarded with a sequel %26ndash; Faces of War. By this time, people were fed up with the setting and potential buyers ignored it, preferring to bask in the glow of their X-Stations and Playboxes. But Russian behemoth 1C wasn%26rsquo;t to be stopped.
Now they%26rsquo;ve returned to WWII, aiming to make the Soldiers experience bigger, better and more successful. Men of War resembles a loot-based role-playing title (such as Commandos, Diablo or Sudden Strike) where you control small squads of men from a tilted top-down perspective across a well drawn and animated map. It also has elements of Company of Heroes %26ndash; move your pointer over a piece of scenery and silhouettes of your men appear, telling you how they will deploy themselves behind or around it. In fact, it does this better than Relic%26rsquo;s game.
There%26rsquo;s a choice of three campaigns to plough through (Soviets, Germans and Allies) either solo or co-operatively (incidentally, the definitive way to play the game). Most maps expand as you progress, becoming larger the more objectives you complete. Bear in mind when you%26rsquo;re playing, you%26rsquo;ll rarely get the chance to replace downed men. What you start a mission with is usually what you finish with, so caution is advised.
Graphically, Men of War is pleasant enough and it%26rsquo;ll run on most systems. Some slowdown occurs on the more congested maps, but most of the time the game plays smoothly. The audio isn%26rsquo;t a problem %26ndash; until the characters speak. The voice-acting really, really doesn%26rsquo;t work and you actually feel embarrassed to be listening to it. This is a shame, because as a strategy game, very few titles reach the epic scale and excitement of Men of War%26rsquo;s biggest battles. If you loved Soldiers, you%26rsquo;ll love this. If you%26rsquo;ve no idea what that game was about, try a demo of this. It is unlikely you%26rsquo;ll be disappointed.
Feb 27, 2009