Games Factory finally brings their real-time WW2 strategy out of hiding from the rest of the world, and shows us what a tonnage of map can do
Few games have ever managed to capture the sheer scale of war, the actual size of a battlefield, and instead opt for smaller and more scriptable environments to deliver carnage of man and machine. Officers from Russian developer Games Factory Interactive doesn’t want scripts or focused combat, they wanted kilometres of war and for players to get swept up in the orgy of tanks, troops and tactics. The selling feature of the game is its massive battlefields where it’s not too uncommon to rack up thousands of kills and lay waste to much of the ground. This is crucial as otherwise Officers would suffer terribly from a very short campaign but thanks to its wide scope the battles can last for hours.
It’s a combination of Sudden Strike’s realism and the grandiose set pieces of the Total War franchise, chuck in the ability to have about a thousand five hundred troops all crammed in simultaneously and you may start to get the picture of what Game Factory are gunning for. The campaign only follows the US and British forces as you tackle historic battles across the Western front in Europe like D-Day’s Operation: Overlord. Russian and German forces are only playable through multiplayer matches or if you’re savvy enough to use Officers’ map editor to whip up your own scenarios.
The smokey plumes of war.
Your orders are, well, take everything in sight really.
There’s plenty of tactical features here you’d expect these days from an RTS, like troops using cover, being able to commandeer abandoned vehicles and garrisoning structures. What’s more, your troops actually gain experience so keeping them alive is a real tangible advantage beyond obvious reasoning. As troops or vehicles perform more of the same tasks like avoiding detection or shooting up the enemy they’ll get better over time and turn your war machine into a mighty instrument. This may prove hard though as the scale of battles tend to get rather large and you find yourself eyeing the 'big picture' more and more, thinking little of sacrificing squads and assets – the ends justify the means after all. Capturing territory lands you access to more resources and usually nets you more reinforcements to call in with better variety as you push ever forward.
Each town or point of interest on the map is open to occupation, and this isn’t just to make you feel good or fuzzy on the inside; there are strategic rewards for capturing (liberating) points around these huge maps. Officers doesn’t use the usual fog of war mechanic as everything is open for you to see straight away, instead the game makes use of enemy intelligence to control the pacing. Much like in real war, just because a town looks calm and pristine doesn’t mean, by any stretch, it actually is. Thankfully you’ll have troops, tanks, artillery and airborne assets at your disposal as you trail blaze from the beaches at Normandy to the very heart of Nazi Germany across several campaign levels.
Cover is crucial for those green fleshy things called troops.
Some vehicles have uses beyond just their mounted gun.
The landscape is completely destructible, which is all the rave now, and the buildings along with the terrain itself can look impressively downtrodden after things kick off. Units and effects are detailed well but the games age is beginning to show in the visual fidelity department. Why the game may at times emphasis a degree of realism it never actually embraces it whole heartily, in fact it’s probably accurate enough to say it doesn’t travel beyond the scale of the maps. Troops can repair vehicles within seconds and they themselves can be healed rapidly thanks to Medic trucks. What does help ground the experience is the need to keep your supply lines intact; ammunition and fuel don’t grow on trees you know. Luckily Games Factory also acknowledge that all these kilometres of land overflowing with troops, tanks and bombers may need a time out for the player to plan their next move, a pause function was included.
Top Game Moment:
Officers is no World in Conflict for drama or attention to detail when it comes to graphical power or immersion, but the scale of the battlefields, the hordes of troops and tanks you can throw around helps swallow those shortcomings. For World War II history buffs this will likely prove a welcome tactical challenge but for gamers looking for more inspirational battle cries, not so much.
TOP GAME MOMENT
There’s something about shelling or bombing the living heck out of a town full of Nazi’s that feels, just… right, really right.