With some really impressive and realistic graphics and well detailed models I got a first glimpse at Theatre of War from Battlefront.com and 1C Company. 1C Company is some of the geniuses behind Il-2 Sturmovik and have been developing Theatre of War along with Battlefront.com to put the finishing touches on this new real time simulation.
Theatre of War is a real time combat simulation game that brings you into some of the biggest battles of World War II from a variety of sides. In various battles you get to play as Russian, English, German, Polish or Allied forces at different positions and times during the war. Using large scale battles but ones that have not been more popularly recreated in other strategy or simulation games you get to control your pick of forces to win the day.
Starting with your choice of different squads and armor you need to choose carefully and then start the fight. At the beginning of battles you need to assign squads using quick commands to ensure you can order and command your units for easy assignments during combat. You also need to use military combat tactics to outflank and out think your enemy and win the objectives of each battle. Theatre of War uses realistic combat tactics and military theory while making decisions and the AI uses these tactics to the best advantage it can.
This means some very tough fighting no matter your experience or what level of difficulty you play on. Starting with some choices in troops and armor you need to quickly assign squads using key commands and position your forces. Theatre of War starts out paused for you to do just that and after setup you start the battle and try to accomplish your mission.
At the start of the mission before your setup your given the objectives. During gameplay you will have a chart on the menu that tells you how many men and equipment you have left to accomplish the goals. During gameplay you see only the enemies your men can see to add to the realism. You can use this same type of tactic against the enemy by using terrain to cover flanking positions or to ambush enemy positions or columns of troops and armor.
You also need to use the terrain and available cover as the enemy surely will. Flanking is a big problem as well as an advantage if you can make it happen because the AI does use it against you. In the campaign mode you start out with very limited choices of troops and armor but continuing on in successive missions your surviving troops and equipment get used over again with a bonus of experience and rank. At the end of each battle that you successfully complete the surviving troops get promoted so you gain experience and battle hardened troops.
Continuing to use these same troops become an asset in your battle strategy and they quickly become a valuable asset. You can tell the troops that have been in combat because their morale and leadership are better than others who have not fought. The troops in your command not only have weapons and some statistics but things like morale, leadership and fitness to show how well they are doing in combat.
The armor is a big plus when you get to use it, sometimes missions will not have it as they are being historically accurate in the campaign and quick battles and many times armor just was not available. Along with the continued leadership and experience troops pick up when they survive they also get better when they have driven or are positioned in vehicles and learn better how to handle them. They gain experience whenever they do things in the game during missions and survive.
Theatre of War also has saves during missions and loads that really help you get back to a previous spot in the mission if things start to go bad for you. The saves are also for picking out your troops and being able to save the setup before the mission starts so you can start over from the beginning of a mission with the same troop setup.
Camera movement and overall screen menus and mini maps look very good and work well. Theatre of War’s graphics and visuals are excellent and the models for the armor, equipment and men are nothing to discount as quickly put together. You can’t zoom in too close to the troops so it would be hard to say if they are the same models or not. The tanks and equipment are very well modeled and look authentic with many different types of not only tanks but artillery, machine guns and armored vehicles. The entire collection of equipment is in an encyclopedia for you to view and see the different strengths and weaknesses during your setup.
One thing that I have seen more and more in real time games is individual movement and control for each soldier or piece of equipment like each one has its own objectives and results from your orders. Each does what they are told but they do not all accomplish the order automatically at the same time. This looks very realistic like when you order a squad of men to lay down and they don’t all jump down at the same time. These individual actions look very good in Theatre of War and add a lot to the realism of a combat environment.
Theatre of War will come with several full campaigns from different countries perspectives as well as multiplayer games over the Internet from Battlefront.com’s web site. There is also several quick battles you can try your hand at that are not a part of the campaign. Overall Theatre of War looks to be an excellent real time combat simulation. The wait for this much anticipated real time simulation is almost over and I really look forward to playing the finished game.