A Calm Before The Storm
As a fan of both real time strategy and turn based strategy titles ranging from fantasy, to sci-fi, to modern day in settings, I often find myself wondering; why aren't there many games about World War I? I mean, if anything it is almost perfectly untapped in terms of strategy. There are more World War II strategy games of both turn based and real time varieties that if they were weapons, both the Axis and Allies would be supplied with enough to fight the war ten times over.
But again, it often puzzled me why there are so few based on the first World War, the war that many in that era thought would truly be the war to end all wars. That is what this review is about as a matter of fact, as luck would have it To End All Wars fell right into my lap... but was it good luck? Or was it equivalent to the bullet that killed Archduke Ferdinand shortly before the war?
Call To Arms
First thing is first. Abandon any thought of excitement as you enter this game; now I know that is going to sound like a very peculiar thing to say off the bat, but it's just pure honesty. This is not an exciting game, but what it lacks in excitement it makes up for in being a strategy title in perhaps it's purest form for better or worse. You won't be looking at epic showdowns, you'll be staring at the map from a distance the entire time. Europe, a continent rich with culture and sights is a place that should be thrilling to witness from a tactical view above. Not so in the case of To End All Wars, as the camera is far enough away to offer you all the excitement of staring at a strategy board game but without the fun of your friends around.
This personally doesn't appeal to me, I like my strategy games to have the excitement of battle; not just the rewards or consequences of success and failure. This approach to the strategy game may appeal more to enthusiasts of games akin to Risk but for me, I was very disappointed about how that portion was handled. Oddly enough, however, the lack of excitement may be exactly what was being aimed for.
The Pen and the Sword
In every strategy game, you have logistics to manage; some form of resource to further your advances on any front. That also holds true for To End All Wars, but perhaps even more so as a lot of the game is more logistical trade route management than anything else. While the battle lines are drawn, the trench warfare plays out, it's up to you to keep your front adequately supplied. But, are you one hundred percent positive that route is safe? Are you sure nothing has broken the lines? Better make good use of reconnaissance units in an effort to make sure your line isn't breached at a weak point and thus your supply lines cut off.
What the game lacks in excitement, it really does make up for in the form of this added level of strategy. It's not just a matter of capturing a resource hub and having your money or supplies magically appear, it's a moment by moment struggle where your next decision could make or break the war. World War I was infamous for being a war of attrition, with some of the largest death tolls being linked to a lack of supplies. The game really helps drive that point home.
Back on the frontlines, you have quite the selection. As a matter of fact, the game boasts an insane amount of renowned officers and leaders all based on their real life counterparts. Just over 1600 of them as a matter of fact, granted many of them are those who didn't have major names made for themselves during the conflict but any buff of World War I will recognize most of them. From there, you have your vast assortment of infantry, armored units, aerial and naval options, and those number at 900. With all these options, it makes me wish once again that there was more detail to the game as far as appearance goes than just the far-distance overworld map.
Which Is Mightier?
People will always debate about whether the pen truly is mightier than the sword; in the case of To End All Wars, it is certainly true. Though set during one of the major conflicts of human history, the game does not focus singularly on the homefront but rather offers an interactive logistic simulator of a war. It can be a great time sink for history buffs, but for someone looking for thrills to match the strategy you may not find what you're looking for here.
To End All Wars was a unique experience, it's not one for everyone however. It may not have been the experience I was looking for, but I can see the appeal there. Perhaps fans of Ageod's games will find To End All Wars to be a great game, but for me it was anything but. It was a well built, but rather boring, strategy experience. I can't stress enough that it's not a bad game, it's just not one to look at for the true thrills of battle other strategy titles can offer.
Large variety of units, historically accurate selection of leaders and officers, massive map encompassing all of Europe and smaller regions of interest during the period, logistic management makes up a large portion of the gameplay to a degree rarely seen
For a game based around one of the greatest conflicts in human history the excitement one could expect from such a game is completely absent.