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’t sell as many copies as it should have, but it did well enough to be rewarded with a sequel – 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’t to be stopped.
Now they’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 – 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’s game.
There’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’re playing, you’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’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’t a problem – until the characters speak. The voice-acting really, really doesn’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’s biggest battles. If you loved Soldiers, you’ll love this. If you’ve no idea what that game was about, try a demo of this. It is unlikely you’ll be disappointed.
Feb 27, 2009