The game features detailed tactical gamplay, similar to the Ground Control or Company of Heroes series, that puts the player in command of one of three faction's armies: NATO, USSR or USA. At the start of any match, players are allocated a set amount of reinforcement points, which they can use to call in units, ranging from infantry, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, helicopters, artillery or other support vehicles, to the battlefield. Each unit has a point cost associated to them which is detracted from the pool once called in. These costs vary, according to the division of an army the player has chosen to lead. For example, tanks are cheaper for the mechanized sub-faction, than for any other, while specialized units may even be unavailable.
Once ordered, players must wait 20 seconds until the units are air-dropped to the battlefield. Once there, they are to command them to secure and hold capture points across a variety of maps. Most points of interest require a presence on multiple point in order to capture. Holding and fortifying these points will grant reinforcement points for players to use. There is no resource gathering in the game, thus, army size is limited to the points pool players have access to. Losing units reimburses them with the points cost of the unit, but this is not instant, but happens over time.
In addition to summoning units to the battlefield, players also have access to support abilities. These cost tactical aid points that are gathered by doing beneficial actions in battles, such as capturing command points, eliminating enemy units, fortifying, or completing objectives. These abilities can be cast up to three times (if one has the points for it) before they will be put on hold for a while. They range from precision artillery, carpet bombing, laser guided bombs, napalm strikes, paratroopers, or even a tactical nuke, and take a few seconds to reach the battlefield, thus careful aiming is paramount.
The game can be played in single player over a lengthy campaign, or in multiplayer between up to 16 players over LAN or online, though the official servers have been shut down since 2015, with just fan-made revived servers available. There are three different types of maps that pit the Soviet Union against either the USA or NATO forces. Domination maps are won by fighting over control points and holding superiority until a ticket marker fills up, Tug-of-War maps feature a frontline that opposing forces push on until it reaches the end of the map, and Assault maps has a team defending a series of points, while the other tries to capture them.
As mentioned before, the action in the game takes place in an alternate history in which the collapse of the Soviet Union did not occur in 1989. On the contrary, peace talks had failed, and the communist block launched an offensive and broke through the Berlin wall to attack NATO powers and invaded Western Europe. Thus, World War III had begun.
The story is not presented in chronological order, and the game begins four months after the start of the war, with the Soviet Union invading the USA by landing a large army in Seattle, using civilian cargo ships hauling troops and tanks inside containers. This is done to provide a good excuse for player to not have access to all the military might of the US, so as to familiarize himself with the game mechanics, as they were deployed in Europe to aid it NATO allies in the defense of european democracy.
The story takes player across the world, from US metropolises, to the country side, to quaint french villages, to the cold forests of Finland and Russia, as it is presented from the perspective of a US army commander, Lieutenant Parker, and the soviet army commander, Lieutenant Romanov. The plot has quite a few twists, following a staunch US defense of Fort Teller, where the soviets believe their nuclear defense is, to all out war in the European continent, to covert operations behind enemy lines.
During loading screens, narrators lay out the events, as well as present a personal side of how people act and go about their lives as they juggle imminent death, family and bureaucracy during war, and portray internal strife between the different army commanders, as some are in it for the the fame, others are driven by fanaticism, while some go to extreme lengths to ensure survival, even committing treason in order to do so.
Reception and thoughts
The game was generally well received both by critics and gamers alike, garnering a Metacritic score of 89/100. It topped sales charts in its initial week, and received multiple awards in its genre in 2007. There were plans to release the game on PlayStation 3 and XBox 360, but these plans were dropped, as the studio was put for sale, and later acquired by Ubisoft
And since Massive Entertainment turns 20, the game is free until December 11th on UPlay. Now, I know, that UPlay isn't exactly loved, but I think it's worth installing, as the game's campaign, inspired by the 1984 movie, Red Dawn, is just a joy to experience.
The story takes you all across the world, presenting you with beautiful vistas, to cluttered city centers, rendered in beautiful graphics that still hold up nicely to this day, ten years after its release. All this, topped off with a twisting plot, where the player is not The One, but a cog in the machine, where you get to witness all sorts of characters struggle to do right by their families and countries, lose friends, and wonder and take delight in the small things in a time of peril. While the multiplayer is not the greatest, as the factions are symmetrical, the lengthy campaign is definitely worth playing!
Have you played the game before? If not, I suggest you grab it! Then share your thoughts about it below, along with any feedback you might have. It is greatly appreciated!
Thank you for reading, and keep on steemin'!
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