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Moscow to Berlin: Red Siege review

AT A GLANCE
  • Detailed, realistic landscapes
  • Using combined arms tactics
  • Going on the offensive
  • Soggy multiplayer support
  • Sporadically good/bad AI
  • Crappy pathfinding

Moscow to Berlin is technically the fourth game in a series that commenced with Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps, a smart little WWII RTS that grabbed modest critical praise. If you liked that game and its successors (D-Day and Battle of the Bulge), you'll probably enjoy MtB despite its dings and scratches. And if you didn't, well, who can blame you - World War II titles are a dime a dozen these days.

What you get for the not-quite-budget price of $30 are twenty missions overlapping three campaigns that range from Berlin to Moscow and back again, 100 weapons and units, a beautifully bleak 3D engine and a few new AI tricks. The word "campaign" is a bit misleading: while the missions proceed chronologically per each, there's no unit carryover. You simply drop into a scenario with pre-fab units and either win or lose. As such, the game feels less like a standalone WWII game per se, and more like a dolled up mod.

Tactically, MtB controls just like any other conventional RTS, of course with an interface so transparent that the only reason to play the tutorial is to scope unit special abilities. The new and much ballyhooed AI does indeed result in, say, riflemen squads that retreat when they're staring down tanks, discerning infantry that hop out of half-trucks when under fire, and though it's never clear how morale works (or if it's even gauged), soldiers that will indeed occasionally surrender. But so what? With other designers doing as much (or more), that's like touting a video card because it supports 3D gaming.

It's some comfort at least that you absolutely must used combined arms tactics when assaulting strongpoints like MG nests, bunkers, or bridges. Send out sappers to get a bead on a squad of Russian KV-1 tanks, for instance, and you'll suddenly have extended visibility for your Flak cannon to snipe them from beyond their firing radius. You can also call in airstrikes, capture undamaged enemy weapons and gain visibility advantages by strategically positioning soldiers in buildings near enemy-held areas.



On the other hand, the computer AI stinks on the offensive. The manual's suggestion that it "will try everything to put you in a pocket" is laughable compared to the mini-clusters of infantry and armor that burp into action in bursts rather than organized lines. Worse, the dumb pathfinding combined with MtB's constricted urban environments lead to vehicles snarling on buildings or each other like "wide loads" in rush hour.

As for multiplayer, well, good luck finding anyone online - you get Conquer, capture the flag and deathmatch modes, but no solo skirmishing. Add those back in, link the campaign scenarios with more than dates and fix the uneven AI (I know, good luck), amd Moscow to Berlin: Red Siege would at least be a solid genre RTS. As it stands, it's for series aficionados only, which judging from the multiplayer boards would be all ten of you.

More Info

Release date: Jun 14 2006 - PC (US)
Jun 14 2006 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Cinemaware Marquee
Developed by: Monte Cristo
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending

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