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Men of War Review

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  • Men of War Review

    Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, the Company of Heroes series was a fantastic WW2-themed strategy game. However, despite my love for it (and years of work modding it into a persistent MMO-RTS), there were some things that I never enjoyed about the game, including the base building, the incredibly arcade-y feel and lack of any type of official support for modding.

    If we look back, two years prior to COH, Best Way and 1C Company released an RTS that was overlooked by so many, the title? Soldiers: Heroes of World War II. The features? Realistic and detailed physics models, destructible environments, the ability to directly control any unit on the battlefield, and most importantly simulation style gameplay without the base building tedium. Best Way didn't stop there, 1 day after the release of COH, they released the sequel to Soldiers: HOWW2, Faces of War. Unfortunately, competing with COH was never in the cards for FOW, and S:HOWW2 was long forgotten (and often overlooked itself).

    Now two and a half years later, Best Way and 1C Company are back again, this time with Men of War. Improving of all the aspects of Soldiers: HOWW2 and FOW, they are once again trying to prove their series belongs in the collection of strategy gamers and World War 2 enthusiasts.


    Men of War contains many of the great features, of it's predecessors, such as individual unit inventories and weapon skill levels and the ability to toggle direct control of any unit. However, simply stating them without some explanation of how they influence the gameplay probably isn't enough for those of you unfamiliar with the series.

    Each and every unit (including AT guns, tanks and individual soldiers) have their own inventory. This includes everything from medical kits and grenades to bullets and tank shells to vehicle fuel. While this may seem like a micromanagement nightmare, it really turns into an extremely satisfying experience of managing your troops and vehicles (including their crews) - yes, vehicles must have drivers to move, and it's possible to commandeer them if you are able to kill the crew without seriously damaging the vehicle.

    Along with an individual inventory, each soldier has a skill set. The tank crew that just escaped from that burning Sherman, might not be as effective with their scavenged BARs as their original owners. This means you must take care when using troops for certain tasks. For example, when assaulting an enemy in a building, you make sure you have you men with automatic weapons and high skill using them peaking around the doors inside. You'll only make the mistake of sending riflemen to take a building once.

    Increasing the sense of attachment to your units is direct control mode which allows you to take control of any unit in the game, seemingly turning the game into a third-person shooter or tank simulation. Moving the unit with the arrow keys, your mouse pointer becomes the weapon targeting location allowing you to fire well placed shots on enemy tank weak spots or executing head shots on unsuspecting enemy troops.

    However, whatever you do, be careful, gone are the days of retreating your men to your HQ for reinforcement (a la COH). Once their gone, their gone; although certain missions and all multiplayer modes allow you to call in reinforcements based on either a set income or game timer (allowing you only to call in the heaviest of units later in the game).


    Touching more-so on the physics and destruction models, the physics engine calculates impact angle of all projectiles, making it important to aim where tanks are vulnerable and to aim at high angles, avoiding flat angles. Fortunately, the game helps you with this information when aiming (unless its disabled and frequently is in multiplayer matches). In addition, the game calculates structural damage loss from repeated hits on the same piece of armor. Vehicles have more damage states than I can explain. Tanks can lose treads, vehicles can lose wheels. Engines can be destroyed, turrets and firing mechanisms (AT guns) get damaged, they can catch on fire and explode, as well as a plethora of other damage situations. Some are repairable (assuming you have a repair kit and a free unit) others leave you stranded for good or the unit destroyed.

    Moving away from the game play and on to what there is to play, we see that MOW features 3 campaigns (USSR, Germany, and Allied) and a few bonus missions. This equates to about two dozen hair raising, heart pounding missions. But they aren't for the feint of heart. These missions are tough and those without strong will to succeed may be quickly frustrated, luckily, the single player features the ability to modify the gamespeed on 5 different levels. This allows you to slow down the game when things get hectic in order to issue more orders and control the situation better. If you are still having trouble, all the campaign missions can be played in cooperative mode in multiplayer!

    Speaking of multiplayer, there are a variety of game modes and you are given the ability to play as one of five factions, US, UK, USSR, Germany, and Japan (Japan will be added in a free content patch). Out of the box, you are given access to over 50 units to use in multiplayer, but there are modifications released that allow you to play with any unit in the game (more on modifications later). The multiplayer modes include Combat (deathmatch), Frontlines (Attack/Defend), Victory Flag (one flag to capture/hold), and Battle Zones (sort of like BF2 capture the area mode). For hosting custom games, there are a ton of options, including the ability to have Infantry-only or Tank-only matches. Another great feature is the ability to transfer units from one player to another, allowing a great deal of tactical strategy in team games. And, for the first time in the series, there is a multiplayer ranking mode with automatch (still pending a patch).

    Men of War is also extremely moddable. New units can be added (support for animating them as well), and there are a few promising modifications such as the single player (Dynamic Campaign Generator) and the multiplayer Germans Soldiers Mod (GSM). There is also a modification called Realism Rebalanced that's great to use with the DCG mod.

    All this said, Men of War isn't without it's faults. The campaign missions can, at times, be really infuriating due to their difficulty and the voice acting in the campaign is atrocious (but it does grow on you). And while the AI is improved, it still can be frustrating to see them get themselves killed doing something incredibly stupid.


    Support-wise, the game has a variety of publishers which has led to a disaster of a first patch. 5 different patch versions were released, and some publishers (such as Direct2Drive) still haven't released the patch to their customers. I have hope that this will get better with additional patches. The requirements also state the game is unsupported on XP/Vista x64 however there are many people using those operating systems without issue.

    Overall, Men of War is a must have for any strategy gaming enthusiast and World War II fan, especially those who enjoy a simulation. And while not as 'easy' to pickup as Company of Heroes, those that do will find the experience much more rewarding.

    Unfortunately, this title, like the ones before it, may be the best title that no one buys. Hopefully the increasing availability of it over previous games in the series, such as it being available on Direct2Drive and Steam increases it's popularity.

    Men of War is available on Steam for $26.99 or on Direct2Drive for $14.95!

    Want to try before you buy? Demo is available here!


    ** All images were taken from 1C Publishing Men of War Gallery. Link **
    It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV

  • #2
    Re: Men of War Review

    Looks good, I really enjoyed HOWW2 so I'll probably look into getting this one :D

    Thanks for a brilliant review!

    Former E1st Heavyweight


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    • #3
      Re: Men of War Review

      Thank you. I was really hoping to drum up support at Tactical Gamer and get a group going. It's an amazing game with incredible replay value and the simulation style of it is right up TGs alley.
      It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Men of War Review

        1er Ive tried it, Its real good, but there are some bugs and features that does not work.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Men of War Review

          Originally posted by Jevski View Post
          1er Ive tried it, Its real good, but there are some bugs and features that does not work.
          If you tried demo, it was missing some features. I didn't read anything in reviews I checked saying about bugs or missing features, though I've heard that physics console can give some epic moments :)!

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          • #6
            Re: Men of War Review

            Originally posted by Jevski View Post
            1er Ive tried it, Its real good, but there are some bugs and features that does not work.
            Most demos aren't feature complete and many have bugs that aren't present in the full game. The biggest bugs in MOW are AI annoyances without a doubt.

            It is missing features still, but they are automatch and making the Japan army playable.
            It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Men of War Review

              I have the game, and i must say, it is pretty amazing. I agree with fldash, the ai bugs are annoying. I never played Soldiers:HOWWII, nor did i play FOW, but i like this one. I'd love to play with some of you guys that have it.
              If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
              - Sun Tzu

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Men of War Review

                Mr_Monkey_Man: what is your in-game alias?
                It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Men of War Review

                  MrMonkeyMan29

                  Your gonna have to forgive me if i suck, i got it a while ago. Also just finished the German campaign, its pretty fun!
                  If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
                  - Sun Tzu

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Men of War Review

                    pardon, i got it a little while ago
                    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
                    - Sun Tzu

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Men of War Review

                      Originally posted by fldash View Post
                      Most demos aren't feature complete and many have bugs that aren't present in the full game. The biggest bugs in MOW are AI annoyances without a doubt.

                      It is missing features still, but they are automatch and making the Japan army playable.
                      Im not talking about the demo ;)

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                      • #12
                        Re: Men of War Review

                        Then by all means tell is about these missing features and bugs you encountered. I already mentioned the two major missing features that will be added in a patch. Automatch and the Japan army. And playing for 3 weeks now I still haven't experienced a big other than annoying AI.
                        It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Men of War Review

                          Cant remember the precise commando, but according to the manual, it should be possible to both do an assault and a retreat, by a key command, neither of these works

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                          • #14
                            Re: Men of War Review

                            http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/m...ry;read-review

                            Also interesting, but it doesn't read like a 7.5 score, more like a 8.

                            Only major complaint is the complexity and those who play RTS's aren't usually the brainless type so that doesn't seem to be a big deal.

                            Looks fun.
                            Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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                            • #15
                              Re: Men of War Review

                              quick question about some controls you can do: how do you use the spread command (default button z) and what does the advance button do (default q, i think)
                              If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
                              - Sun Tzu

                              Comment

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