Wargame: European Escalation Review
Wargame: European Escalation is a real-time strategy game set in the cold war era of the 1970s and 1980s. Divided by the Iron Curtain, the two military alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact are on the verge of sparking World War III. Eight nations fight for dominance over Europe, providing 361 different units to command.
WEE is not your usual RTS game. For starters, there is no base building or economy management. Dominating the theatre of war will earn points, that are then used to order reinforcements to arrive wherever you place them, in a similar fashion to World in Conflict.
Next, we have the really unusual aspect of WEE; the persistent unlocks. Usually the backbone of MMO and FPS titles, here, Command Stars are gained from single-player and multiplayer modes that are used to unlock units from the various nations. The unlocked units can then be added to the player’s Deck, which can be NATO, Pact or completely custom, and sent to battle in single-player or multiplayer skirmishes. Got that?
The maps are seriously huge; stretching up to sixty square miles, and are navigated using an impressive zoom feature, similar to the Supreme Commander games. Hundreds of units can be drafted into action simultaneously to dominate the theatre. Available are infantry, tanks, helicopters, support, recon and logistical units to create a multi-levelled attack force. No jets though. Boohoo.
The single-player campaign also acts as a tutorial, which I highly recommend for a game this deep. The missions increase in difficulty and offer much replayablility, as achieving maximum Command Stars takes practice. The game’s AI is not to be underestimated; even on the easiest setting it will quickly capture command zones and develop deadly armies.
The online multiplayer mode is effective and includes all the features expected in a decent RTS: up to eight players per game, ranked quickmatch, unranked friendly lobbies and create match options. During my time playing, the quickmatch option found a game in around a minute and the friendly lobbies were nicely populated. There is a built-in friend and clan system with text chat, which took me a few minutes to figure out, but appears to do the job.
The graphics are superb and I’m the first to admit that my ageing rig doesn’t come close to the full potential available. The sound design is subtle and effective. Militaristic music rouses the player into a patriotic frenzy, whilst explosions and impacts erupt with visceral intensity. The realism achieved with WEE creates impressively tense and satisfying immersion into the hells of war.
Inevitably, a strategy game with so many layers takes a little while to get to grips with. I found the concepts falling into place after around two hours of the single player campaign.
Wargame: European Escalation is a compelling and deep tactical warfare game that armchair generals of all ages will relish.
Developed by Eugen Systems
Published by Focus Home Interactive
AMD 4200+ X2 2233 MHz CPU
ATI HD4670 512mb GPU
Windows XP SP3