Friday, 17 December 2010

RTS - Ultimate Command vs. Pencil Pusher

Andy recently wrote an article about finding the Sweet Spot within the games market. Allowing the player enough control to feel fully involved, but without swamping them with unnecessary amounts of buttons to press. As we all know, it's a pain having too little, or too much control! But I've recently found a new "Sweet Spot" in the land of Real Time Strategy games!

I've been a fan of RTS since the days of Command and Conquer! Moving to Age of Empires (II was the best!) and now moving into more recent times, titles such as Empire Total War and Company of Heroes!

Now all of them have had a few minor problems, which although didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the game, didn't quite tick all the boxes.

Command and Conquer was all about the cool units, although it was a strategy game in essence, it wasn't reaaally a strategy game. The only strategy was build stuff, make a bigger army than your opponent and win! A great game, but it just didn't have that extra bit of interaction I was looking for.

On the other end of the spectrum, Empire Total War. This had the detail, the control, everything. Maybe a little bit too much? Trying to control 1500 men could get difficult (And rightly so, it made it a challenge) but there was nothing more of a pain in the arse getting flanked from nowhere when you took your eye off the game for a second! It was brutal and unforgiving. But I still loved it!

I like a strategy that has a twist between a good scale (Unit wise) and enough control, and I think Company of Heroes was so close! It had C&C-esque factors; build a base, build units, and go to war! But also had other factors like, sorts of ammunition to use, differentiation of damage depending on where your shots landed, quite a lot! However, in making the game balance correctly they took away the history aspect from it...

Military Geek Out Segment

A 57mm gun taking out a Tiger tank, on it's frontal armour!? That's worthy of a double take!
A 57mm gun taking out a Tiger tank, on it's frontal armour!? Yes! You heard! What?! It would have bounced faster than an spam email on Andy's email filter! That's not at all right!

An M17 Hellcat taking a Flak 36 shell to it, and it ricocheting off!? You German engineers aren't worth your salt I tell ya, whoever designed that shell! Of course it would take out a Hellcat with one shot! Their armour could be penetrated by a heavy machine gun! Let alone an 88mm shell winging it's way towards it!

Company of Heroes almost had it! It really did! But in making it a balanced game, they took some of the realism out of it. They could have got away with it if it wasn't based on a historical event. Hmph... Wait, I've just spotted an RTS Beta! Let's have a look at this shall we!

Men of War: Assault Squad

I've just downloaded the BETA of this from our good old friend Steam (A link can be found HERE) and I've got to say, I'm pretty impressed!

Men of War has been out for a while, but when it was released I'd just bought myself Company of Heroes, and was rather smitten with that. Didn't think I had enough time for two RTS games at once. So I let it pass me by (May have been a mistake?)

This is a BETA, so things are still subject to change and alteration and of course there are a few bugs, however, I think the concept they've grabbed is fantastic! You don't build a base, you call units in from off the map using a finite number of points that are shared amongst the team. So even though there are very powerful units, they don't get spammed. If you build a Tiger, the other team has enough points to call in a Centurion Mk II - Game on Jerry!

You can select a variety of weaponry, different shells for different purposes.
That squishy truck over there looks a prime target for a HE (High Explosive) shell ,whereas that Panzer IV is going to need an AP (Armour Piercing). Select where you want to hit too! If you're getting assaulted by advancing tanks, bust the tracks! Disable it!

They've fully implemented the German's more advanced hardware. "Where's the balance in that?" you may say, but remember, it's all about tactics! This will upset the majority of C&C players, but for people like me, this is almost spot on! It's challenging, no matter which side you play on!

Men of War (The original game) is getting sold for around £9 at the moment. I think that will be a Christmas purchase for me!

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