War Front : Turning Point is a World War II based Real-Time Strategy game with a twist. Instead of playing the actual events in World War II, the battles and the story that unfold are totally fictional.
The game is set in the World War II but in an alternate time line where the Germans successfully invaded London and after some plots and twists, the Germans and Allied forces are up against a greater enemy – the Russians. (Why are Russians always the bad guy?)
It’s just another RTS but what made it interesting was the setting and the storyline. In between missions there were cinematic cut-scenes, in the missions there are ad-hoc primary and secondary objectives.
Anyway the game sets itself apart by incorporating various interesting elements, like for example being able to hop into a defensive structure to man the gun yourself. It’s more effective as it settles the bogies faster BUT seriously, do you have time for it? I probably did it just twice. It’s quite pointless since the defensive structures can be quite effective so by the time you realize there was an attack, the enemy would’ve already been taken care of.
And if you’re an RTS gamer, I’m sure there were times you just wish you could bring along your veteran level unit to the next mission – War Front allows you to do that. The number of units for you to set as core units are limited of course but then it sure is better than nothing.
Other interesting elements Heroes incorporated in the game also add a level of tactical value to the game. Each faction has 3 heroes, each hero have their unique ability. There are 4 abilities to each hero- 1 active and 3 passive, and the 3 passive abilities come in 3 levels. The thing is you don’t get all the ability all at once, the heroes need to level up before you can upgrade the next ability.
Another thing that I really liked was that you could set all the structures to auto-repair when damaged. 😀 Sweet! I could mind my own business without having to click on them to repair. I was also glad to see the unit build-queue loop was part of the game.
Speaking of units, the game incorporates unit types that really existed and also unit types that were fictional, such as the Ice Spitter for the Russian, the Exoskeleton for the Germans and the O.R.B. Force Shield Generator unit for the Allied Forces. The most interesting unit among the uniquely designed units would be the Ice Spitter, it freezes whatever the target is but doesn’t destroy them immediately but all it needs is an accompanying unit to break the ice to crumble the frozen unit.
While some units are unique, others looked like a rip off from other games. For example the O.R.B. Force Shield Generator looked like the Mobile Shield Generator from Supreme Commander while the Sonic Tank is of course, taken from Dune II and Emperor.
Besides the usual establish and destroy routine and the usual special effects and so on so forth, War Front’s game engine also features day & night and weather effects over the combat terrain. Having stormy weather means your radar is disrupted and air-raids are not executable.
I’m also glad that they didn’t follow the “operation area expanded” thing from Supreme Commander or any other RTS, you know how sometimes the opened area happens to be the place you are least guarding. 🙂
Fiddle around the game settings and you’ll see there’s an option to view all units’ HP (Hit Points), and that includes the enemy AND even the structures around you. While this is a nice feature, I find that enabling this one slows the game. Heck, it’s still a nice feature. I never liked the idea of having to select all or click / mouse over a unit to view their health status.
Unlike Supreme Commander that’s lacking of cut-scenes or Command & Conquer 3 with it’s rather boring live-action cut-scenes, War Front offers action-packed cut-scenes that link missions together into a seamless tapestry of story-telling. 🙂 Even the mission briefing is entertaining, the dialog between characters involved with their witty remarks and all do make the game more lively.
So it this game without flaw? Unfortunately no, so here I go……..
This is the first RTS that I could finish my missions with anywhere from 5 to 6 digits worth of resources remaining despite spamming my production queue like silly – so much for resource management, all I did was build a supply structure with 2 or 3 resource collectors and that’s it. Never once did I have to think “Hrmm. so little resources, what should I build next.” This might be good news to some but to me it’s just made it less fun in some ways. Sure, you get the fun of spamming and not having to worry about resources at the cost of tactical micro-management of your military.
Another thing is that the units are DUMB! They could have explosions nearby and not move a bit to aid the poor structure or unit that was hit. There’s no feature for me to decide the stance of the unit (e.g. hold fire, aggressive, attack but do not follow) – it was annoying. I could have a bunch of tanks outside the Tank Factory and despite being showered with missiles they just sit there. YUP!!! That’s how dumb the unit can be.
As if lacking unit AI wasn’t bad enough, here we lack formation movement as well. Sorry for being pampered by Supreme Commander and Command & Conquer 3 but seriously, I don’t like my units to move like a game back in 2003 where 100 tanks just line up for massacre. It wasn’t fun moving them, and quite often they just have problem navigating to the intended location so you’ll probably have a few units as “arrival sacrifices”. Sure, the tutorial doesn’t tell you that you could move all the units at the same pace, base on the speed of the slowest unit – that doesn’t help either when your units are moving without intelligence.
To make things worse, your tanks just refuse to steamroll over human units! It’s like WTH?!?! It’s damn annoying when bazooka wielding infantry is tearing your battalion apart. It’s a good thing that unlike other RTS, at least the infantry units are easily settled by tank cannons.
Moving around city is a nightmarish experience as well. Lacking movement intelligence + civilian units = BAD! The civilian units are indestructible yet refuse to make way despite seeing 20 tanks rushing their way. With the lousy navigation AI, it’s no surprise that some units stray.
Seriously, the reason you micro-manage in this game is because the units are stupid.
While the units under our control had bad AI, the AI for the AI (the units controlled by the computer) isn’t that smart either. For most of the mission, you could win just by tank spamming.
Tank spamming is fun BUT here’s the bad news – the game allocated ridiculously low unit limit. I mean really, 150 unit limit for the final mission! Man, I could barely get 30 heavy tanks with that, mind you that even a light tank takes 3 unit points. Well, you could look at it as forcing the player to be more tactical but seriously, if I have the funds I’d like to build as much as I can.
This was also the first RTS where I had to get use to the mini-map. Your units aren’t clear, neither are your enemies’ – the mini-map was downright ugly. The Objectives screen lists the objectives but doesn’t tell you WHERE are they to be accomplished, so in the end you still need to refer to the mini-map’s various icons. No details on it whatsoever, mouse-over those icons and your objective details appear………… on the other side of the screen!!!
The structure placement was annoying as well, you just can’t place some things near each other even though there’s plenty of space. While the air-superiority would be fun, finding enough real-estate for the airfield is a turn off.
Grouping your units isn’t friendly either as the game doesn’t allow you to Shift select a second group. So let’s say your tanks are in Group 1 and artillery units are in Group 2, you can’t highlight Group 1 and Shift Group 2 to add to the total selected group. It just doesn’t work.
Graphics & Sound
I marvel at the graphical beauty of this game. Each map, each setting, each object – detailed to the core! The textures and detail of each object like houses, trees, bridges, water; all were very impressive. Let’s not forget that they’re richly colored too.
And remember I mentioned the day & night and weather effect? It’s amazing, the shadows of each object move according to the position of the sun and as night approaches, all units and structures turn lights on! How about the weather? Well when it rains, you see droplets falling from the sky.
The game works fine on my X1950GT running at 1680×1050 and maximum settings. It’s just that later stages where more units and textures appear, I’m forced to tune the details down a little for playable framerates.
Nevertheless, the effects were still stunning even when details were a little lower. You see nice explosions, shockwave effects, nuclear explosions, tank fire and so on.
The cut-scenes in the game were fantastic despite being just 3D animated cut-scenes, the cinematics were great – I truly enjoyed the beautiful panning of cameras, the slow-motion action scenes (John Woo + The Matrix) and the witty dialog.
While the sound effect was great being crisp and clear, the sound track on the other hand was dead boring. After a while you’ll probably know the song by heart, and if you think that different campaign features a different set of soundtrack like in Command & Conquer series or StarCraft – WRONG! You are stuck with the same tune for the rest of the game – it’s just that you have an Allied Forces version and a German force version of the tune.
Also there seem to be a volume issue with the cut-scenes, the volume is soft compared to when actually playing the game. Each time a cut-scene appears I’ll have to raise the volume and lowering it when it’s over.
Online / Network Gaming
Online gaming was pathetic. Not the gaming experience but rather the lack of people playing it. Clearly this game, though being a rather good RTS, it just fails to win the heart of people like Command & Conquer 3.
As for Network gaming, no problem with it. Now if only I could find someone to play with. The AI in skirmishes is rather intelligent, on HARD mode that is. They provide good fun for those who decide to brush up their skills.
They seem to be more intelligent then the AIs in game.
I truly enjoyed the game, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this game to others as it’s really fun to play despite it’s short-comings. The game isn’t difficult but the story itself is very entertaining.
I mean really, how many games give you the joy of tank spamming? 🙂 The lack of unit intelligence and the ridiculously low unit limit makes it a “Tactical Challenge” in it’s own way. Rushing the enemy base with all your available tanks doesn’t guarantee victory, you could do that on earlier missions but as the campaign progress, a little bit more planning is required as head-on is almost always a loss.
PC Specifications Used
Processor : AMD X2 3600+ @ 2.5ghz
RAM : 1GB DDR2 667
Graphic Card : Colorful X1950GT
Monitor : 20″ Dell Ultra-sharp Wide-screen LCD