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Theatre of War

June 13th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · Battlefront, Review, WW2

You can read my review of Theatre of War over at Gameshark. This is my first review for the site and hopefully not my last. Gamerankings converts the B- to a 75 which sounds a little high. The sense I’m trying to get here is “problematic, but worth a look.” I’m shooting for a low B-. Maybe I’m just an easy grader.

The range of reviews is pretty typical for a game like this. Over at 1UP/GFW, Matt Peckham dings the game hard for things that I found frustrating, but not game breaking. At Gamespot, Brett Todd liked the “incredibly tense” pace and “rigorous accuracy”. (He also found the AI “outstanding”, which is pretty far off the mark, in my opinion.) And at Wargamer, Jim Cobb makes very useful comments in a review that opens with a discussion about the eLicense system. His review is closest in tone to mine, I think, though again I think I am more forgiving.

In any case, this was a low B- for me because of the suicidal infantry and line of sight problems. Peckham is right to spend most of his brief review talking about them especially since they will cause some players a lot of problems. But Todd is also right that a lot of the tension is genuine and rooted in how you need to have a plan and make the plan work. This isn’t Company of Heroes – you need to scout and react to what you find. The limited availability of air power and artillery can let you punch a hole in the enemy’s line, but there’s always a temptation to burn that stuff off for easy beginnings, only to find a strong point waiting for you on the other side.

There’s probably too much micromanagement for newcomers, and the most serious wargamers will get the most pissed that the default setting for infantry squads is Pickett’s Charge. But there is probably a middle group that likes the detailed execution of a battle plan and doesn’t get too hung up on losing a few guys from time to time. For them I’d recommend Theatre of War.

Oh, and guys? It’s not an RTS. It’s a wargame. Don’t make me show you Harpoon again.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • JonathanStrange

    TOW looks and sounds interesting to me; I’m in that twilight “no man’s land” where I’m looking for that game that combines RTS style graphics with more than just superficial wargaming elements. Perhaps a game like that would please virtually no one: the wargamers would feel it not realistic enough and the RTS fans would be unexcited by the realism. It seems that there’s little space for the gamer who liked both the Combat Mission series and the Blitzkrieg series.

  • Troy

    If you can take the micromanagement the game requires, this might be in your sweet spot. Of course, you could always play on easy.

    Make sure you have the hardware for it.

  • JonathanStrange

    One of the benefits of being an Intel engineer is never worrying about hardware requirements. Ever.

    As for micromanagement, I’m naturally inclined to do so as long as I can swoop back and enjoy the action too.