by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
World War III
Eugen Systems have an immaculate record of building superb engines for their strategy games, but their previous titles have been criticized for bad voice acting and bland stories. We got a chance to see their next big title, Wargame: European Escalation at GamesCom, and what we saw was quite impressive.
Wargame: European Escalation takes place in the Cold War period between 1975 and 1985. The game is essentially a “what if” scenario, where the NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact clash on mainland Europe. The game features infantry, vehicles, and helicopters from all the nations that would have been involved in such a clash, including the NATO countries of Britain, France, the US, and Germany, and the Warsaw Pact countries of Russia and Poland, to name only a few. The maps on which these clashes take place are realistically modelled after actual locations in Europe, and the development team used satellite images to get the details as close to life as humanly possible. The terrain is rendered in full 3D and hills, houses, and trees will all play a significant part in the player's tactical plans.
Houses can be used by infantry as cover, trees are very useful in setting up ambushes, and hills not only block the player's line of sight, but also allow him to potentially sneak past the enemy and outflank him. Everything on the map is destructible and, when tanks roll over fields, the grass is pushed down, with trees being destroyed as they push themselves through forests, and structures being destroyed as artillery rains down upon hostile villages. This becomes even more impressive in light of the fact that the game has over 14 million individual elements jammed into it. All this does wonders at creating the illusion of a real battlefield. The game is very European-centric, but the developers said that they would be looking to expanding the game to the Soviet occupied areas and other locations in the future.
It's All in the Details
The selection of vehicles is quite impressive, and the fact that the player will be able to choose which model of any given tank he receives increases the player's control exponentially. The latest prototypes of tanks, for example, will not only cost more and possess all the latest equipment, but because they are merely prototypes, will be less reliable on the battlefield than the tried and tested basic models. Every single detail has been accounted for in this game and fans of ultra-realism and Cold War history will undoubtedly appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into making this game. When a tank is firing at an enemy, the likelihood of a successful hit is displayed when that unit is selected. The units experience, movement speed and direction, terrain, stress level, and weather all factor into that percentage.