Saturday, 5 March 2011

Men of War: Assault Squad

Men of War: Assault Squad is a World War 2 RTS game featuring every kind of weapon from ground troops to  bombers (of sorts), however one of the biggest problems with World War 2 games is basically almost everything  passable with WW2 has been done from flight sims to card games so people got bored of WW2 and thus we have Modern Warfare games... and Vietnam for some reason, however, as I'm waffling on about this you're probably wondering "will this guy ever get on with the review" and the answer is... Yes.

OK one thing I want to get straight is this; There is NO Campaign mode! All there is, is a loosely tied together Skirmish mode so if your looking for a 400 page epic narrative well you won't find it here, this is strictly fighting no nambie pambie love story. However, this game is extremely cinematic and I'm honestly stunned that it was possible for RTS to be able to pull that off and so well. In fact, it's down to a dynamic battle system that they pull off this type of immersion.

Talking of gameplay there are 5 factions for you to play as ; The Americans, The Germans, The British (AKA Common Wealth), The Russians and the Japanese. However there's one big problem, they all play the same! Yes, the weapons sound and look different, and yes they have different special attacks (I'll get to that in a minute) but the bare bones of it, the factions are the same. The special attacks are unique to every faction, for example, the Americans can call for a single paratrooper to fly in at any given location, this can be handy to take down artillery without endangering your tanks and you can call in a bomber plane... Which is also used to take down artillery... Huuuu... Well to be honest almost every special attack I used was for taking out artillery. The only two I didn't use for taking out artillery was the tiger tank and an ability to call on extra men (controlled by the computer) to charge forwards and basically kill everything in it's path.

While playing more and more, I found out that I was basically doing the same tac-tics in every level. In fact on closer inspection of the mini-map, I found out that almost every map had the same strategic points (flag captures) which is 2 rows of three in a diagonal line and one big base at the end of the level, normally filled with artillery. The maps may be different with snow, desert or urban areas however you can tell by the layout that your doing the same thing and this is not a exaggeration. When you start a level you get told "The Germans (or Americans) have blocked the road ahead, capture this point so we can get our tanks in". This happens every time and it gets extremely repetitive and boring. I would of liked some variety, such as "Get to the train station and defend it as we plant a bomb to destroy a train". This would of given us variety and if the developers did this then we wouldn't be hit with this repetitive vibe. However for now the level design is just lazy, I hope DLC solves this though.

One thing I noticed is that I never used certain units, for example, there are normal infantry, snipers, anti-tank units, flame throwers, and a special type of infantry which is basically normal infantry but in armored vehicles. However, I never saw the point of using the flame throwers, as I never got close enough to using them before blowing up and they cost too much. Snipers aren't really effective as normal infantry because they can shoot at fairly long range and pretty accurately and the anti-tank is pretty much useless in nearly every faction (except the US), because the rocket launcher, almost every time, did little to no damage. So I stuck to normal infantry and tanks. Artillery I only used once, mainly because I got better range and accuracy with the special attacks.  The only time I used most unit types was at the hardest difficulty which is sad, as research shows that most people don't play on hard and only normal, where I only used normal infantry and tanks. So basically, there's a balance, there's a fog of war that can be turned on in the options that could help this, but this makes long range weapons over powered, so it's a double edged sword.

At the beginning of the game there's a great feeling of achievement when taking over a base which is slowly lost due to repetitiveness. However, it's a great feeling when destroying a tank then running for cover to take the flag. It's a feeling that I rarely find in RTS games these days. Animations are fluid and the environments are stunning. I know I don't normally go over this, but the levels are diverse and unique and it's a shame the design and the layout couldn't be changed on some of them to make them more entertaining.

Included with the game is a map editor to make maps and probably mods, but while trying to test it out it crashes. On the other hand, being a modder/ Developer myself I know that this is very much acceptable, being that I know how complex these programs are. So hopefully when the tool is fixed the modding community will come in and spice up the game.

All in all, the game is average while the game-play is exciting and frantic. However, the level design is lazy to an extent. I would like to see the modding community come in which will probably happen, so I would keep an eye on them. So if you want a fun action packed game where you can download mods and map packs.

Liam Hackett
Maria Matthews (Editor)


  1. The game is not an average RTS, like CoH etc. A bullet or too small caliber AT round will not penetrate large tank's armour. Use the bazooka from high window, straight down or to the side/back from a bush in a close range: those armours are thinner than front. The firing angle shoud be direct aswell. Like the in the ww2 of real life, tanks in the game a real threat but if used carelessly they are very vulnerable. An AT grenade on top of the engine works well. The flamethrower not only takes a squad of rushing elite infantry by suprise, lurking in a bush it will burn roaming tank's engine in seconds. The trick is to disable auto-engage and use direct control mode. Because of the huge amount of microing the game offers, the small differences in the game make the difference, not a huge diversity of maps. But I agree with the balancing, it's too uniform and takes some tension from the multiplayer: I suggest one tries the original Men of War and evaluates, if the overpowered German faction makes the gameplay better.

  2. Being a Huge fan and enthusiast of the series I found this to be a disappointing game. For people who have heard or played the original Men of War will know that this is an 'expansion'.
    The result is rather lazy, yes they sprinkled some graphical improvements here and there but failed to fix any of the flaws from the previous game, path finding and capable AI being two examples and also adding a few fresh ones like grenade selection.
    They made great claims about improved ballistics and weapons range but failed to make sure they work game play wise, the camera zoom being limited and making the battlefield difficult to view is exacerbated by this. The old Men of war (and previous games using the same engine) employed less 'detailed' ballistics yet managed to make what it had work incredibly well.
    As this review states, maps are simple, narrow and repetitive in skirmish mode (single player/co-op)
    I actually mod the original game for my own pleasure and when I investigated Assault squad for its level design and scripting I was shocked to see how little effort was put in besides creating the basic 'skirmish system'.
    A claim is Assault Squad is all about multiplayer, and basically yes. But the efforts are poor and does nothing to beat Men of War for tactical skill and enjoyment. It merely fiddles round the edges and claims to be superior. The promises were great the result failed to live up to its forerunners.

  3. Additionally to my above post and in response to the first poster, Regarding Germany in Men Of War (original). Germany is not overpowered, I personally find it the easiest faction to beat in the original game, using UK and USA even Japan. That is not to say they were weak either, it was very well balanced, each nation having advantages and flaws. Some players failed to know how to use them, blaming the game and not caring to learn or adapt. I would mention the old function of artillery was the games weakest part regarding multiplayer. The game had greater tactical flexibility with it disabled, but that did not overly effect balance.

  4. Hi I play with the editor in assault squad. But now it won't work I can't move around the map in direct control to. it's really bugging is there a key or a setting to stop all movement?

    Answer me at