Wargame AirLand Battle is the latest real time strategy title from developers Eugen Systems and publishers Focus Home Interactive. Set in the Cold War, the two playable factions fighting it out in AirLand Battle are NATO and the Warsaw Pact. AirLand Battle is the sequel to the 2012 title Wargame: European Escalation but will it show improvement or will no-one want to play through till victory?
Let’s find out and kick off the HOTs and NOTs.
Units Have Purpose
For a decent attack players must have good variety of vehicles. Even with just tanks down on the ground with nothing to worry about airborne units scouting for instance is key for the extra line of sight. Players will struggle to survive encounters with the enemy as a direct result of not scouting. With the ability to take cover in dense woods enemy vehicles can almost sneak up on you and get the important jump on you in terms of both a surprise attack, dealing the first damage and whilst you are locating them having precious time to reload. This highlights the importance of scouts and almost every unit has an important role to play. Air units to carpet bomb areas or intercept planes and helicopters, general units to capture areas, transports to swiftly move ground troops into better positions. The list goes on with every vehicle needed to forge a decent army.
Wargame AirLand Battle offers an almost bewildering array of authentic units from a variety of countries both major and minor within the NATO and PACT factions. For all roles that players need to form a cohesive force there is at least one option to choose from for each country that they can play as so no two armies ever need to be exactly alike – especially if you use an alliance of troops from various countries. While the array of units is dizzying the stats and weapon types are clearly shown in an easily-digestible manner when players mouse over a unit, so it’s relatively easy to find the right one for the task at hand.
Great effort has been put into all areas of the game to make it a realistic vision of the cold war period, always providing a plausible reason for the conflicts players are engaging in to be happening. During the campaigns (four are available, though the first is a very short introductory affair) players will be presented with snippets of political events which affect the campaign, some of which are choices which players can sway one way or another. In addition to the politics there are also weather reports, with severe weather potentially having an effect on the campaign as well. All this helps with the sense of grounding in the game world which is a particular strength of the title.
Battlefields aren’t instantly thought of when beauty is mentioned. Nonetheless, Wargame AirLand Battle’s visuals are such that the game is a pleasure to look at. From the more tactical Google Maps satellite styled battlefield map to the fully zoomed amongst the trees and tanks the game is almost surprisingly detailed. Often when calling for airstrikes or tank volleys I found myself zooming in to see either the explosive tank fire or see the colossal destruction happening around me. Perhaps tactically it wasn’t the best idea but the visual experience made it thoroughly worth it!