Have You Played… Men of War?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Men Of War should be the king of Steam even today. A sort of sandbox World War II strategy game with a vast range of possibilities, from repairing and then hijacking broken tanks to stealing hats from downed enemies for added armour and any number of stealth and/or combat options, it is in many ways The Dream.

A knuckle-cracking, neuron-firing prompt: “right, what can I do here? What can’t I do here?” Small squads, big maps, multiple paths, glorious chaos theory as action triggers consequence triggers reaction triggers an experience all your own within what superficially looks like one of the most staid of PC game-types.

Yeah, there’s some presentation and interface issues, but are we not PC gamers? Do we not dig our way through difficult crusts to find wonderful fillings that could only exist on our mad platform of choice. Men of War is the good stuff, the real deal, 100% what we’re all here for. It’s not too late.

29 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    DuncUK says:

    You forgot one of the best features… the amazing voice acting.

    link to youtu.be

    Guys, this is bad.

    • GernauMorat says:

      I still wonder to this day: what in the worlds does “enemy in the reach zone” mean?

      Bloody excellent game though.

      • VehoNex says:

        I remember reading about how translations were done for the game. It should have been “Enemies in our field of fire!” Or something along those lines but was translated to Enemies in the reach zone!

      • Sin Vega says:

        It’s “aim is in the reach zone!”, and it makes sense if you apply a bit of literal translation logic. Aim = Target. “reach zone” = range. Target is in range.

    • Electricfox says:

      For Uncle Sam!

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      This is one of my favourite videos on youtube. There’s something poetic to how bad it is.

      Rounds! Whose got rounds? No more rounds! I don’t have rounds. Give me rounds!

  2. Luiz Paulo Santos Cruz says:

    To someone who played the following WW2 games(and is also kind of slow in RTS):

    all brothers in arms
    Hidden and Dangerous 2 and dlc
    Company of Heroes 1
    and dunno, probably others.

    i would ask if i should take the oportunity to buy the game and all the dlc in that sale happening now, there is also a demo of course, but just asking here.

    i can´t grab the sequel because my pc can´t do DX11.

    • Lordcrazy says:

      I would argue your best bet for a more polished game would be to go and grab MoW Assault squad. But read TychoCelchu and Hyena Grin’s posts as those are some things you should keep in mind. Assaults squad does have some performance and quality improvements over MoW though and it does have some missions created by the community that can make up for the loss of the “campaign” (It probably would have been better had there been no voice acting) and the top mod makers made recommendations here if you are so inclined: link to steamcommunity.com. But yes, I would try the demo to see if the game is for you before buying, as it certainly isn’t for everyone. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a feature of direct control that lets you take control of any single soldier or vehicle and act like you are in a top down Shooter/RPG that is probably one of the best features in the game. (Not recommended for MP) Finally, there is an editor attached that isn’t too hard to use to set up your own battles or test things out relatively easily without having to do any scripting and have a good ol’ time if you like the gameplay.

      P.S. If you upgrade and like the series, I would recommend Assault Squad 2 instead of going and purchasing the first few games as modders have brought over the earlier series’ campaign missions for your enjoyment.

  3. Hyena Grin says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Men of War. It was a genuinely Good Experience.

    That said, I do think there’s such a thing as Too Much. Every soldier is basically their own fully-fledged RPG character, it’s basically unrealistic to micromanage them on many of the larger maps. It plays like a small squad tactics game, except there are sometimes dozens of characters that need managing.

    It works really well when you are actually given a small squad though, like in Assault Squad. But there’s a big part of me that wants the big-battle experience with less of the micro.

    I didn’t finish Men of War because around the same time I was getting into CoH, and although I kept wishing for a game that would meet in the middle between the two titles, it was easier to get friends interested in the less finnicky CoH, and so that’s what we played.

    It’s a shame. Maybe I’ll try to get a friend to play through Assault Squad with me. Hopefully the UI has held up.

    • Behrditz says:

      Ugh, trying to make sure everyone had ammo was such a hassle for such an important part of war. Ok, this guy went and looted all the corpses. Now I have to…drag and drop some ammo individually to everyone? He cant just be “the storehouse” for the squad he is attached to? Ugh.

      The reason I stayed with this series was because you can then WASD control individual tanks with mouse aim. Thats some good stuff.

    • Lordcrazy says:

      If you are the type, if you go into the editor and add units through there, they do not ever run out of ammo and can create some large battles especially if you load up some defense mission maps from the community and add your own units through the editor. Imho, the editor isn’t too hard to use to make some nice battles for yourself if you aren’t looking to micro everything. I actually spent most of my game time in there messing around with it.

  4. Scobie says:

    These are extremely cheap on steam right now so I am tempted, but I have a couple of followup questions:
    1) Does this recommendation also apply to the game’s various sequels?
    2) Are these games suitable for strictly singleplayer stratheads?

    • cosmitz says:

      The sequels are more or less the same game with different flavourings. I don’t remember the rundown but Assault Squad took a more ‘freeform campaign’ aspect to it, while rest were more specific-campaign focused.

      Men of War: Assault Squad 2 really should be your go-to imho in the MoW series. The ‘HD remake’-ish Assault Squad 2; Men of War Origins is.. underwhelming.

    • klops says:

      This is already a sequel, btw. The first one was “Soldiers: Heroes of WW2” and the second was “Faces of War”.

      Assault Squad 2 would be my recommendation for multiplayer, like Tycho and cosmitz already said. I’ve only played Faces and the first MoW as a single player, and remember to have liked those.

    • Behrditz says:

      The sequels basically all just improve and expand. I BELIEVE they improved the ammo distribution system, which was super harsh in the original.
      Men of War, and Men of War 2 and such have actual campaigns. The Assault Squad named games have singleplayer that is either skirmish, or a gamemode where you basically push maps continually while capturing specific points that become the new front.
      Assault Squads are the most polished titles, but they do lean more toward multiplayer and skirmish.

  5. TychoCelchuuu says:

    One of my favorite games of all time. Assault Squad 2 is where it’s at for the multiplayer these days, but for coop and single player, the original Men of War (and some of the other earlier games, and even the game that came before, which was Soldiers: Heroes of World War II) is where it’s at.

    • zomgponies says:

      You forgot about ‘Faces of War’ between MoW and Soldiers ;)

    • Lordcrazy says:

      Oh man, it’s a TychoCelchu sighting. You’re definitely correct in all of that, also if anyone is interested, the majority of the modding community (Which is very strong) has moved to Assault Squad 2 last I checked and have created some great content for it. (E.g.; Chronicles of War by Cule and SirHinkle’s Missions) Also thank you TychoCelchu because your videos helped me figure out MoW 8 years ago, so you have my endless gratitude for getting me hooked.

    • Premium User Badge

      Big Dunc says:

      Soldiers is a game that really deserves to be remembered a lot more than it is. In some ways, it was the forerunner to the mighty CoH, favouring small squads over tank rushes. Also, the animations and sounds were fantastic. Sadly, Men of War and the subsequent games in the series passed me by at the time.

      • Lordcrazy says:

        I actually did like the Soldiers campaign more than MoW, though Faces of War is probably the best, other than the stealth mission, I swear whoever decided to do that should be shot in the streets. Yet, they always put one in every single game’s campaign from there on. /rantover

        But yes, if you want to go back, but want some Quality of life improvements and performance, modders have put the campaign in Assault Squad 2. (Last I checked) Though I would suggest you check out WW2 Chronicles for a great campaign mod (link to steamcommunity.com)

  6. Sin Vega says:

    An exhausting, exhilerating, wonderful game. The main downside is that once you’ve played it, almost all wargames are frustrating micromanagement hell, too abstracted in the other direction, or far too overwhelming, or plain dull.

    Also Men of War never did fix the sheer ballache of having to manually reload and re-equip everyone, or watch them stand around doing nothing when they run out of ammo.

    That said, I still remember the train yard mission. And that mega assault where I started out with 1,000 soldiers, and when the last enemy defender fell, had only four left. Absolutely draining. I wish more wargames were like it.

    • Sternum says:

      The train yard mission is incredible, but it also left me so broken and exhausted that I quit playing the game.

  7. sandman2575 says:

    MoW Assault Squad 2 is on sale on Steam right now for $5.99 (80% discount).

    Never played the original MoW, but MoW AS2 is a truly fantastic game. It’s a nice middle-ground between Hollywoodish WW2 RTS a la Company of Heroes and Gruelingly Grognardish RTS/WEGO Combat Mission x2 or Graviteam Tactics. Both Hollywood and Grognard WW2 are fun, but sometimes you want something not too cartoony, but not too painstaking and time-consuming…

  8. Carra says:

    I adored Soldiers: Heroes of WW2, the first game in the series. It was at its best when you controlled a small squad with 4-5 soldiers and maybe a tank. That game was way ahead of its time. You could ride a tank into a house for example. And it had some great missions. I remember a mission where my five guys had to hold against a small army. Go out and plant mines, put some anti-tank guns strategically, get some cover in the buildings etc.

    After that game though, the sequels (of which there are way too many) never managed to blow me away anymore.

  9. Carra says:

    I adored Soldiers: Heroes of WW2, the first game in the series. It was at its best when you controlled a small squad with 4-5 soldiers and maybe a tank. That game was way ahead of its time. You could ride a tank into a house for example. And it had some great missions. I remember a mission where my five guys had to hold against a small army. Go out and plant mines, put some anti-tank guns strategically, get some cover in the buildings etc. You could even take over enemy tanks by molotov coctailing their crews.

    After that game though, the sequels (of which there are way too many) never managed to blow me away anymore.

  10. Jerppa says:

    I remember that I liked it but never got past that mission where you have to defend a train yard against Germans.