Monday, February 27, 2012

Wargame: European Escalation Review

I've been playing Wargame: European Escalation a lot over the last week and it is a rare real time strategy game. It has a deep strategy that you do not often see. Many RTS games with this same kind of style are  often very messy and hard to enjoy, I'm referring to games like Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy. Everything you do in the game is geared towards unlocking new units and making customizable decks. There are two sides in the game, each of which have units available from three different countries and in total there are nearly three hundred units that you can unlock. It does a lot right strategically by having a focus on supply and recon. Without supply your units can run out of ammo, fuel and cannot be repaired, while recon gives you the insight to plan your attacks or anticipate the assaults of your enemy. The game mixes singleplayer and multiplayer together very well, rewarded you in multiplayer for playing singleplayer and vice versa, since both provide you with means unlock new units. There is a lot to like in Wargame: European Escalation, but there is also quite a bit that could be improved. I also have a video review which you may find right after the What I like section.

What I Dislike
-Few multiplayer modes (two)
-Tutorial is poorly implemented
-Poor multiplayer menu's

The few multiplayer modes and poor tutorial are the worst offenders of my delicate sensibilities. I can easily forgive the clunky menu's, menu's that seem like they were implemented by someone other than the main designers. Now with the tutorial in mind I will admit that the first level of the campaign does give you a tutorial, but it is a light tutorial and doesn't explain everything. Throughout the first half of the campaign, about ten or eleven levels, they slowly introduce new elements, but many of these elements you are forced to figure out on your own at one point or another. The few multiplayer modes are going to hurt the game in the long run. For how much focus the developers put into multiplayer they only created one real multiplayer mode, destruction, in which the team with the most kills wins. You can set the number of points your team needs to win and there are many maps, but the game would be greatly complemented by some objective based multiplayer modes or even a singleplayer co-op mode. Those three things I truly dislike, a lot, but now onto what I like.

What I like
+The armory/unlocking units
+Singleplayer/multiplayer cohesiveness
+Robust multiplayer community
+Exciting, but not very detailed textures 
+Multiplayer is mostly balanced
+Long singleplayer campaign 
+Great value for price
+Battle specifics

To start with I absolutely must explain battle specifics. I am referring to when a unit will get damaged in unique and various ways, but this also refer to units getting stuck in the mud or getting bogged down in a swamp. When a unit it, be it a tank or a helicopter or anything, get's shot it can have unique status's happen to it, things like a tanks stabilization or targeting system getting knocked out for sixty seconds. These status's make combat a bit more dynamic and pay respect to old classics like Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin. With regards to unlocking units, which is a major part of this game, they handled that very well. You unlock units when you play singleplayer or multiplayer and no matter what your playing you are unlocking new units that you can use in either. There are over three hundred units you can unlock and it gives a lot of opportunities to make really custom decks, which are capped at twenty-five units per deck.

With multiplayer balancing they also did a good job. If you are level one and playing against a bunch of level ten players you will get more experience, which helps you catch easier as long as you are still contributing to your teams effort. You of course will be at a disadvantage at against these higher levels units since they have a larger variety of units to work, but it's a short term disadvantage that can be quickly overcome by completing a single campaign mission or a few multiplayer matches. There is also a lot of built-in multiplayer capacity with leagues, custom teams, friends and ranked & non-ranked games, plus you may also play skirmishes against A.I. players. Lastly I must address the graphical quality. The game generally looks very good, as you can see from screenshots or the video below, but upon closer inspection you will notice that some textures and graphical effects aren't top notch. That can be easily forgiven when you take in consideration the great job they did of putting a ton of units on the screen with explosions and gunfire all over the place without compromising framerate, for that they should be commended. Here is my video review if you care to watch that.

Wargame: European Escalation Video Review 

Last Comments
Wargame: European Escalation is not for the casual strategy gamer. You cannot jump right into the game, I tried and fell straight off that cliff, but you can ease into it with a little bit of effort. With that aside it does a lot right, a lot that hasn't been done correctly in years, and it has a large multiplayer community that actively has a thousand to two thousand people playing at any given time during the day. The singleplayer isn't overly impressive, nor is it addictive, but the story is well-made, not cheesy and very lengthy. Singleplayer and multiplayer mix together very well to create a very enjoyable experience that I can easily recommend to any real time strategy fan that has any inclination towards deep and challenging strategy games, especially games that look to have a multiplayer community that will be active for quite some time. The only thing holding Wargame back is it's poor tutorial system, lack of multiplayer diversity and oddly designed menu's, but there is so much to like. The game is $40 and Eugen Systems made a game with a lot of value. A game that unfortunately doesn't have a demo, but it does have a plentiful amount of gameplay videos around the internet and the reviews are starting to build up. 

Violent Score: 8.5 (out of 10) 

Thanks for reading and check out the steam page or main website for more. If you have any questions about the game I would be more then happy to answer them. 
Main Website:
Steam Page:

*Review copy was provided by Eugen Systems
-Written by Sean Cargle


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