20: Men of War (2009)
Developer: Best Way / Digitalmindsoft
Publisher: 1C Company
The top twenty. Daley Thompson’s Double Decathlon, as its known at Games Journalism Academy. To break into the big two-oh a game needs to offer something truly spectacular and in the case of our first entry, it isn’t difficult to pinpoint precisely what that “something” is.
Men of War is a real-time tactics game that simulates every aspect of the battlefield, from the components of each vehicle to the individual hats on your soldiers’ heads. The hats are not a gimmick. Best Way have built a full scale real-time tactical game that simulates its world down to the smallest details.
If you’ve ever played an RPG and scowled when a giant rat’s inventory reveals that it had a pair of leather trousers and a two-handed sword secured beneath its tail, Men of War will be enormously pleasing. Ammunition, weaponry and clothing are all persistent objects in the world – if you need an extra clip for your gun, you’ll have to find it in the world rather than waiting for a random loot drop. If you need backup, or replacements for fallen men (of war), you’ll be able to find them in friendly squads who exist as actual entities on the map rather than as abstract numbers in a sidebar.
The credibility of the world isn’t window-dressing. All of that simulation serves a greater purpose, allowing for desperate vehicle captures, as a seemingly doomed squad realises that they might be able to commandeer the Panzer they took out moments ago, patch it up and continue to fight the good fight.
Despite the brutal difficulty – which goes hand in hand with the occasionally punishing micromanagement required – there’s always hope in Men of War. Or, if not hope, the understanding that the game’s world, unlike war, makes a certain amount of sense, and that every predicament has root causes in the simulation itself.
Notes: Beginning a tradition of perfunctory titles that continued with Faces of War and Men of War, Best Way’s first title was Soldiers: Heroes of World War II. It’s a real-time tactics title that lays down the foundations for the Men of War games.
What else should I be playing: There are several Men of War spin-offs/sequels, including the excellent Assault Squad.
Read more: Our review