I’ve got a relationship with strategy games. It’s not very healthy, and it pretty much always ends in me looking reproachfully at the exe as it leaves me. Infinitely alluring, yet ultimately pointless, I’m really a very bad strategy game player. I can just about get by in the Total War series, when I’m not too rushed, but in something as wonderfully minutely detailed as Men of War, it’s really a lost cause. So any impressions of it will be tainted by the fact that I’m woefully crap at the game. Bear this in mind as I tell you of it’s wonders, for the Men of War Demo is Out.
The premise; you’re following a pair of Russian University students who’ve been drafted into the Red army some time during the second World War (does it really matter when? I think it all happened in 1944. That’s when all the big stuff seemed to have happened. History pedants don’t lynch me!), and trying to keep them alive as they go from wet behind the ears recruits to hardened veterans, or something. I was too busy stifling chuckles at the hilariously nonchalant voice actor they got to narrate the English version. Even the hammed Russian accents of the in game characters is better than the slightly bored, reading from a history book guy they got to explain the setting. Oh well.
The game itself seems to be one part Company of Heroes, two parts accurate simulator. Or maybe it takes the one part of Company of Heroes that was accurate simulator, and added two parts of their own. Basically, this game feels to me to be as close to an accurate depiction of the Second World War that you can get without it being an FPS, and without actually being there. Tank tracks break, your men die scarily easily, and everything falls apart with a wonderful physicality. And people have inventories. So maybe there’s one part RPG in there? Inventories mean RPG right?
My first go round with the demo went something like this; going good, get the tank, repair the tank, load up all the troops who can’t fit in the tank on the tank, and then roll into battle. They start getting shot, so I get them to dismount, and they get shot more, and die. Then the tank completes most of the rest of the level until it inevitably gets flanked and blown up. Reload.
The second time I was a bit more ‘strategic’, which essentially meant sending my troops far away from the battle while the tank dealt with everything. But then, of course, as soon as I brought them into battle to mop up the remaining infantry, I got too interested in their fight and the tank died. So I failed again.
As I said, I’m very bad at strategy games. However, Men of War does seem to be a very fun one, if you like your games realistic. There are different ammo types, lines of sight, lots of cover that does different things, and far too many things for me to think about all at once. I’m sure all you lot are far, far better at it than me, so please, go here and download the damn thing. It’s only 250 odd mb, which is hardly a lot for a demo these days.