by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Single and Multiplayer
Last year’s Men of War: Vietnam disappointingly lacked a decent competitive multiplayer mode and I am pleased to report that it is included in this game. Up to eight players can battle it out in Capture the Flag or Victory Flag mode, but the game does suffer from a lack of players at the moment. The singleplayer is, however, more than enough to justify buying this game as it will keep you playing for hours on end, trying to solve the puzzle each mission sets before you.
There isn’t much in the way of padding in this game as each mission starts with a small voice-over explaining its objectives. No cutscenes, no flashing arrows. This sort of minimalism makes this game strangely attractive as it enhances the sense of realism the game is going for. It does include a very handy in-game wiki which has information about the history of these battalions and other interesting stuff, but all in all, the over-arching plot is on a need-to-know basis, and as the commander of a disgraced battalion, you don’t really need to know.
The graphics engine does, however, look a bit out-dated, and the menus and interface is not what you would consider pleasing to look at. However, when you are concentrating intensely on how to get your men past a mortar, an APC, and a mounted machine gun, or better yet: manage to take possession of all three of them at the same time, the fact that the map doesn’t have stylish borders won’t bother you one bit. On long missions, however, the music might.
The music in this game is non-dynamic: It starts as calm but as soon as the first bullet is fired, it becomes more fast paced. The problem is that it never slows down again. Even if every soldier in the vicinity is defeated and it will take you 10-15 minutes to loot the bodies and make your way to the next combat location, the action soundtrack will be playing the whole time and can become a nuisance. I turned it off after just a few missions and it didn’t diminish the over-all positive experience of the game one bit.
Playing Men of War: Condemned Heroes is a wonderful experience and I for one don’t intend to stop any time soon. The only major gripe I have about the gaming experience is that enemy vehicles which are located off the map are still active. That means that if there is an area that’s intentionally hidden from your view, either because you have yet to complete the objectives that open up the rest of the map, or because the units are supposed to come into play later as reinforcements, they can still shoot at you from outside of the map. This caused me quite some frustration as I tend to use the entire field to my advantage, flanking sometimes from the extreme reaches of the terrain. It is very annoying to be blown up by a tank to your left when you are sneaking along the leftmost edge of the map and in no way able to see, let alone target, that enemy.
On the whole, I highly recommend this game to any fan of classic RTS experiences. Although it may be a little rough around the edges and a bit frustrating for newcomers to get used to, it will give you the challenge so many games today fail to deliver. Make sure to save and save often, however, because this game is relentless and there’s no way anyone will get through it without having to load to a point where your men are still alive once in a while.
A very challenging brainteaser.
A bit rough around the edges.