Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Legend Studios
Release Date: March 31, 2004
War Times is the up coming title from Strategic First. It is based in the period during World War II. This is a real time strategy [RTS] title.
War Times plays like all RTS games. The resource, unit, and upgrade management are familiar with any experience player. It does have the graphical feel of Myth. I loved Myth, so this feels comfortable. I am not going to cover the nuances; it does not change from most titles. The combat actually feels like Myth with flamethrowers.
The player has the choice to play the Axis or the Allies. Playing the Axis obviously means playing the Germans while playing as the Allies covers the Britons, the Americans, and the Russians. Depending on which side you want to play as during a mission, the units change. I like the Americans with their elite troops and the Germans with the flamethrowers.
Resources Management are pretty basic and merely consists of supplies, minerals, and fuel. The player has workers to gather resources and supplies are derived from the supply station. This is equivalent to 'food' in the fantasy based RTS. The minerals come from mines, the fuel is oil. The player must build an oilrig over a bubbling morass of petrochemicals. The workers gather the fuel and minerals and run back and forth automatically to deposit their gatherings.
The units cover just about any of the 'core' type units from World War II. The four general 'classes' or 'types' are infantry, vehicles, ships, and plans. I loved the elite troopers of the Americans. Also, let us face it, the Super Bomber rocks. Unfortunately, the Axis has decent anti-aircraft equipment. Bummer. The major tactic that I used for anti-air is to have several jeeps or half-tracks make a rush on the emplacements full of elite troops. I referred to that as my 'ranger rush' tactics. Follow that with a 10 bomber raid, it makes life hard for the poor enemy caught in the crossfire.
The upgrades are split between building related and unit related. Most of the upgrades make sense. Improved versions of buildings are a good example. The 'fury' upgrade to the elite troops is an example of one of the 'strange' upgrades. Each upgrade costs some combination of minerals and fuel, that and time. As you can expect in this type of game, certain units require you to construct certain buildings in order to manufacture them and later on upgrade their endurance, armor and so forth. You have your typical barracks to create your troops, light vehicles (light armour, jeeps), heavy vehicles (tanks etc.), airfields for your fighters and bombers and then the aforementioned "upgrade" buildings to improve armour, durability, counterintelligence, visibility, ability to build bridges, and plenty more...
Graphically, the game is in a depressive grey/brown pallet, I would have prefered a slightly more vibrant color scheme. Of course it might be just to create a somber mood, but still more variety in color would have been a welcome addition. I loved the sprites though. Everything has a correct feel to it, it looks like the old time color newsreels. It is nothing special, but is more than adequate for this type of game, not everything has to look like C&C Generals with stellar 3D graphics. What War Times may lack in the graphical department, it makes up for in gameplay, and lets face it, all the bells and whistles means nothing without a product that is actually fun and challenging to play.
Sounds are appropriate to the game. The units sound like a unit of that type, the gunfire sounds like gunfire, airplanes dropping their bombs make the whistling sound, explosions have a thunder to it etc… There are no disappointments or surprises here, just well done and implemented. The only gripe that i had was with the voice letting you know you ran out of resources or you need more supply stores, after hearing it for 100 times, it honestly started getting on my nerves.
The most impressive part of the game must certainly be the cutscenes & movies, they are quite are amazing. The quality reminds me of Blizzard. I loved them. It was poignant and heart touching. Each one had the 'oh my god' quality that Diablo 2 or Warcraft 3 has. I was quite surprised and amazed at the quality.I am not amazed easily in games, but nevertheless, the cinematics in War Times are a surprise.
The missions are appropriate to the period and the genre. They are neither too hard nor too easy. I enjoyed both the campaigns and the 'quick game' missions. The time spent on one mission is approximately 1 hour per mission. I found that to be about right for this type of game. The missions in campaign mode seem to become significantly harder around missions 4 or 5. It feels about right, the learning curve is maybe a little bit steep so it might of needed a gentler glide up in difficulty. Notable is the fact that the skirmish missions are totally seperate from the campaign side, so there is certainly some added replay value there
War Times is a wonderful title for the genre. I found no functional flaws to this title and enjoyed playing it a great deal (and still am) . If the you are a fan of the RTS genre, then you should not doubt about picking this title up end of March, you WILL enjoy it. War Times is further proof that a developer does not need a huge budget to succeed.
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