With the strategy game market becoming increasingly populated with incomplete and laughably easy additions, it is a well needed breath of fresh air to be playing Wargame: European Escalation. This game is a testament to the Real Time Strategy genre and has made it to this reviewers list of favorite RTS games.
The game throws you right into the dirt with starting you out with a very brief tutorial showing you how to move and control your vehicles and you quickly learn how to take on a larger force with superior tactics, as a veteran to the RTS genre I found it challenging but not impossibly so, to adapt and utilize the limited forces at my disposal to defeat my computer controlled enemies.
Wargame also hits you with the annoyingly realistic realization that vehicles of war do not have unlimited ammo and unlimited fuel, I frequently had to halt my advance to bring up supply trucks to replenish the ammo and fuel of my war machines which while takes away from the flow of gameplay in my opinion provides a realistic approach to real time strategy by introducing the need to keep track of logistics and supply lines as you make your way through the map toward your goals.
Even the small maps in Wargame are very large in size for a one on one battle with a friend or AI, allowing for flanking maneuvers, ambush tactics, a real need for recon elements and a the ability to be very creative with tactics. Travel seems very realistic as well, taking minutes to move from objective to objective, with a sizable force and generating the compulsion to leave defense units behind as you go to protect your supply lines and ensure that you are not flanked by your enemy.
Another unique feature in Wargame is the ability to customize your army, as you complete objectives you are given command stars which you can use to unlock a wide variety of units ranging from supply trucks to heavily armed attack helicopters, with variants you can call in during your battles. There is only a limited amount of each unit to deploy in any given battle which creates a more cautious approach to developing each game, as it forces the player to utilize limited resources to advance through the game, something many RTS games overlook.
Finally one feature that really caught my eye was the veteran system which allows each unit to gain experience and become a more deadly unit on the field. Each unit has 5 levels of veterinary status which seem to improve various aspects of the unit such as accuracy and the ability to maintain calm during battle. These units in the single player campaigns can be transferred with you from map to map, so that your most experienced units will be able to be deployed and utilized again and again until they are destroyed.
The Graphics within Wargame: European Escalation are very detailed, the camera allows you to zoom in incredibly close to units and elements on the battlefield allowing you to see very specific details from the numbers on the side of a vehicle to dents and scrapes on a building or on the ground.
The sounds of the game further enhance the gameplay by providing a multitude of sounds from each unit and a musical background that does not take your attention away from your gaming experience but does not leave you wanting to mute the volume and listen to your own musical library either.
Being a veteran RTS player I found this game to be stimulating and quite enjoyable, the gameplay was rich and challenging and gave a wide liberty to operate with strategies I saw fit to utilize instead of forcing me into one or two predetermined linear pathways of gameplay. The AI was challenging enough to make it enjoyable to play solo and the multiplayer aspect is great for those skilled RTS players looking for a challenge. The gameplay may be a bit complex for those just entering the RTS genre, however with enough patience and intelligence the game will quickly reveal itself to be a truly fantastic experience. For hardcore strategists the use of the resupply line will give you a more in depth feeling of this RTS. However if your used to the current mainstream RTS you may feel that it breaks the flow of combat.
The games massive maps and wide variety of units allows you to play the same map two dozen times without experiencing the same result as you did in your first game. I personally could easily spend all day playing this game.
After playing this game for a while now, I can say that it is definitely a good game to pick up if you are interested in a challenging and intelligent real time strategy game. It has excellent graphics and the matches are a lot of fun. There is a lot of potential with customizable armies and endless strategy to utilize. This game has rocketed to one of the top Real time strategy games in my collection and if you are a fan of the genre you will not be disappointed by this game.
Replay ability (9/10)