Tank Russian

Did we use that pun before? Oh nevermind. I do so enjoy it when a random theme emerges from the internet, and today’s theme is: tanks of World War II. The tank you see above is from Men of War, which I shall talk about in a moment. Firstly, the secondary purpose of this post is to pimp out the latest issue of PC Gamer UK, which I implore all who are able to purchase immediately. The reason? Lots of Jim Rossignol words, obviously, but more specifically my feature on the Russian games industry. I went to Moscow and came back laden with delicious information. It’s the the best thing I’ve written for a magazine since my trip to Korea. Anyway… Men Of War – or why a fiddly wargame was one of the best things I saw in Moscow.

What was interesting about Men Of War was the grizzled-looking developer from Best Way talked to me in Russian (translated via a young Russian lady) about the modeling of tank combat physics. He explained how projectiles worked, how they penetrated different surfaces, and how his team had meticulously fashioned all this within the game world. I could see the PR folks rolling their eyes and praying that the chap would actually just get on with the demo. After a while even my placid self began to raise an eyebrow. But the lecture had served a purpose: I understood how to play the game.

As soon as I was in control of a tank I knew that my high explosive could be used to blast a building into a fragments and batter the nearby infantry. I also understood that the nearby German tank hiding behind a barn could be struck through the flimsy wooden structure, thanks to switching to my heavy armour-piercing rounds.

The next demo had the developer taking control, and for good reason: a huge battle unfolded in the Russian marshes. A great line of enemy infantry were advancing and he’d have to stop them. Dozens of little Russians ran out to defensive positions – it was clearly going to be a tooth-and-nail battle. My host showed me, with some pride, how snipers could be made to climb trees to increase the effective range. We watched the little man settling in a lone pine tree which wobbled in the wind. I wondered how many young Russian men had done exactly that in valiant defence of their country.

The upshot of all this, of course, means that a game I had no interest in at all – an over-simulatory RTS based in WW2 – is now a game I will definitely play on release.

Finally, a trailer. Not a particularly good video for getting across how the game works, but it is, at least, in-engine.

Men Of War will be available in September.


  1. Boomshakalaka says:

    If the game is trying to appease the grognards, they have already lost the war. Just get close, but too close and get burnt by unplayability, useless time sinks for the dev team, minutae destroying any good points.

    Will play demo, hope its good. All hail the IS3.

  2. Apollo Belvidere says:

    Company of Heroes set the bar so high for WW2 RTS games that I feel sorry for any developer that tries it. This could be good but if it’s not great, people are going to ignore it.

  3. Alex says:

    This is from the same people who did Soldiers: Heroes of World War 2, isn’t it? I loved that game, despite its best efforts to piss me off. I’m excited now.
    Also, IS3? Pah. It’s all about the T34.

  4. Myros says:

    Looks interesting, would love to see a video of the demonstration you saw.

    Oh and …
    ” After a whole even my placid self began to raise an eyebrow.”
    A whole what? Cheescake, melon, joint? ;p


  5. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Soldiers was really pretty good although I never got it to run properly on my machine. The fact alone that I could ram my tank through the house front to surprise enemies and use their turret rotation time for a shot of APey goodness still lets me think about reinstalling it some day. And while it was needlessly complicated, the possibility to take control of your tanks/soldiers was just great.

    I really like wargames from East Europe and Russia, they tend to make things overcomplicated instead of oversimplyfied. And I bet with 5-6 days of learning the basics I’ll find a gem underneath.

  6. Jim says:

    I love these guys, they’ve got a rather long history of WWII RTS’s. Th ones I know about are Soldiers: Heroes of WWII and then the sequel, Faces of War. The main selling point is the ‘direct control’ allowing you to control one of your little men or a vehicle using the mouse and arrow keys.

    I assume this is very much along the same lines. The problem with Faces of War and the reason it didn’t the warm welcome Soldiers got, is it pumped too many friendlies on screen. In Soldiers you controlled a hand full of special forces going behind enemy lines and sabotaging key enemy positions, usually there were 5-6 of your men against hundreds of enemy and tanks.

    Faces of War did a lot wrong, and hopefully Men of War will fix that problem. It was hard to tell from the video but it seems like the friendlies were just a distraction for the elite troops who came round the back… in a van. Engine looks nicer too… Fingers crossed.

  7. spd from Russia says:

    Id love to read your view on rus gamedev, any chance of having that article online or maybe in a russian mag?

    are we still making original but unplayable games? :)

  8. Andrew says:

    After the disappointment that was the sequel to Soldiers, I really hope Men of War recaptures the wonder of the original game.

    Company of Heroes has set the bar high but Men of War can do things differently. I’m excited.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    spd: PC Gamer might publish the text, I suppose. I shall ask.

  10. CLLMM says:

    “Company of Heroes set the bar so high for WW2 RTS games that I feel sorry for any developer that tries it.”

    Come on, you do not compare IL-2 Sturmovik to Blazing Angels. CoH was a clickfest, a fast paced mainstream RTS, designed for people that like big explosions and no waiting. Nothing wrong with that, but this is a hardcore RTS. Hard to get into, hard to control, appreciated for what you get out of it. I realize accessibility is the new watch word, but different strokes for different folks.

  11. cyrenic says:

    CoH was a clickfest, a fast paced mainstream RTS, designed for people that like big explosions and no waiting.

    That quote right there shows you didn’t play CoH very much. You have to actually play it a bit to “appreciate what you get out of it” :P.

  12. Charlie says:

    I just wrote this msg out twice and forgot to put my name and email in. Can’t be bothered to write it again. I basically said I loved the originals and the co-op rocked my socks. Any news about co-op this time round?

  13. Cigol says:

    CoH is command and conquer for the new generation, and it’s a fupping great game at that – but the original Soldiers was like playing Commando’s. It’s so much more involved and personal.

  14. Charlie says:

    Exactly! Commando’s mixed with a bit of Xcom I thought. In fact, someone get them to make a new XCom or UFO after this.

  15. Mr Pink says:

    Speaking of tanks, what happened to the “Your favourite tank” competition. I’d love to see the results.

  16. andy m says:

    It’ll be a nice to play an Eastern Front RTS instead of the usual Yankee dominated proceedings we get in the genre.

  17. MetalCircus says:

    Agree with CLLMM. CoH is great fun, but that doesn’t make it the king of the genre.

  18. Jonathan says:

    Reply to CCLLMM

    So you’re praising it for bad controls and not explaining enough?

  19. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I’m a gigantic CoH fan but the differences between it and Men of War/Soldiers: Heroes of WW2 are pretty clear. Everything has been said pretty much but it’s all spread out over lots of comments so I’ll condense it!

    Company of Heroes is like a normal RTS turned up to 11. It changes a ton of things and adds a ton of things: your base building is negligible, the action is nonstop throughout the entire game, resources are places you capture instead of things your people harvest, your dudes can’t shoot a tank unless they have AT stuff, and cover is important. Great fun.

    Soldiers/Men of War is a lot deeper. There’s no magical unit building or base building; you get what you get and if someone dies, then tough cookies. Every soldier has an individual inventory with grenades and his gun and the clips in his gun and his helmet, and every building is 100% destructable. When you tell someone to attack, each individual bullet that is fired either hits or doesn’t, and if it hits it does damage. Tanks have realistic penetration, damage models, fuel limits, and ammo limits, and they can be repaired or rearmed mid-battle. Plus there’s the whole “direct control” thing which definitely makes parts of the game(s) similar to Commandoes and the Eastern front and the Japanese.

    So they’re different games. I love them both (obviously I haven’t played Men of War yet but I’m really pumped) but aside from superficial similarities (World War II, men taking cover, stuff blowing up) it doesn’t make much sense to compare them.

    And yeah, I want to see everyone’s favorite tanks.

  20. Cigol says:

    I wondered what happened to the tank competition actually, I was sure I would win. My favourite tank was Bonaparte of Tank Police fame.

    I originally juggled the idea of drawing a Warhammer 40k style tank with heads stuck on spikes, several varieties of guns and killing apparatus scattered across it’s body and all that jazz. It’d have the phrase ‘UN PEACE KEEPER’ written on the side too, only the N was curiously scribbled out and replaced with ‘SA’.

    I’m glad I didn’t bother, lol.

  21. Erlam says:

    I should really play CoH again, or at least give it a better try.

    The first time I did my entire team got stuck on a fencepost literally three minutes into the game. I tried everything to get them loose, and nothing worked.

    I abandoned it there.

    Also, this video actually looks really interesting. I could care less about graphics, but what I’m really wondering about is the control. It looks like it may flow nicely, but I’m not sure, obviously. Looking forward to checking the demo out.

  22. Deuteronomy says:

    Is this anything like close combat? The CC series are the only RTSes that I’ve really gotten into, if this is anything like them I ‘ll get it for sure.

  23. TychoCelchuuu says:

    It’s much, uh, closer than Close Combat. You command fewer people (at least in Soldiers: HOWW2 you did) and you’re much more involved in the fighting, especially when it comes to tanks, and there’s no morale to worry about but other than that it’s a good comparison, since both give you the forces for a mission and force you to work with those.

  24. Apollo Belvidere says:

    I’m wondering if the people calling CoH “Command and Conquer for a new generation” has actually played CoH online. The multiplayer aspect of CoH is one of the most tactically deep games that’s ever been released. It’s a LOOOOOOOOOOT more complicated then just doing a C&C tank rush, which don’t even exist in CoH. The level of micro needed to play well is insane and the number of units/strats/hard counters/soft counters/etc are staggering. Describing CoH as akin to C&C or as a simple game in any way only exposes the fact that you’ve never really played CoH outside the campaign or comp stomps.

    Go to the CoH section of gamereplays and take a look.

  25. Cigol says:

    I have played it online and tank rushes certainly do (or at least did) exist, but my comment wasn’t meant derogatorily, it was meant to be reflective of it’s popularity as RTS of choice.

  26. Apollo Belvidere says:

    There’s no such thing as a tank rush in the traditional sense. You can make an effort to tech up to tanks more quickly than usual and get them out there, but there’s no game ending tank rush where you make 10-20 panzers and steamroll the opponent. The nature of the game certainly doesn’t allow it, and even a tank-dependant faction like the Wehrmacht never has more than 2-4 tanks roaming around at any one time. CoH is a game about combined arms forces, not rushing to and then spamming one unit to end it fast. The average game length for a 1v1 in CoH is usually somewhere between 30-60 minutes, and often longer if the opponents are equally skilled. This compared C&C where games can end in 5-7 minutes, often with tactics like the tank rush.

    And CoH being a “clickfest” is just a false statement. If there is one RTS out there that’s about tactics/strategy/planning and NOT about who can click the fastest and who knows hotkeys the best, it’s CoH.

    I’m also talking to CLLMM btw, don’t take this as a flame :)

  27. araczynski says:

    love CoH and Soldiers, especially the direct control in Soldiers. Hope they get this one right. Faces of War was disappointing for some reason.

  28. Heliocentric says:

    COH is intense, and once you know your controls and their effects more personally you can relax more, but the range of devastation and its instantness (tank rushing and meet a minefield and 2 (holding fire until just that moment) AT Guns sure, you just got served. So instead, reconnoitre and application of battlefield supremacy. Once you take that control you’ll be rewarded with more resources and you can think about being more aggressive in the typical C&C style.

    People get touchy, just like if you compared a masterpiece with the scrawlings of a caveman on a wall, but at the time they were the bar that was set, C&C still is what it was maybe it would be more fair to call COH the “best action RTS” just like C&C once was, but to not be a “click fest” a game will want either generally autonomous AI or be turn based.

    Look at real warfare, there will be times a commander can be more successful by not waiting around with his orders, not so much as COH maybe as your “units” in a real war can think for themselves, but still even then with each unit being a real person timely orders can help. If you want a game where slow commanding is equal to fast commanding what do you propose is the framework which supports that system, turns?

    In other news I bought faces of war from Zavvi for £4 the other day (along side dark messiah for £2, rush for Berlin for £2 and mealstrom(the demo sucked but i loved perimeter) for £4) And now I’ll need to go and buy the prequel if what you guys are saying has any merit.

  29. Charlie says:

    I really enjoyed Faces of War. I was terrible at it mind you. Over the network you only have to control half of the squad each and rely on each other. Great fun, especially in the bigger battles where you have hundreds of allied npcs blowing up all around you.

  30. Quine says:

    Heroes of the W.I. was a game of some awesomeness. This is looking promisingly epic.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed the motorbike and sidecar units will be making an appearance near some mines once again.

  31. Grill says:

    Just read the piece Jim – awesomely laid out, very nicely written.

  32. Subjective Effect says:

    I’m a big CoH fan (I play online alot and I never have 1vs1 games go on for 60 minutes. You can’t with Vicotry Points) but if this is indeed the way that TychoCelchuuu describes it, it will be so different as to be incomparable. Like Enemy Territory vs Red Orchestra.

    The changes sound refreshing and, more importantly, alot of fun.

    Now I’m interested.