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MenofWar:AssaultSquad2review

http://www.gamebasin.com/news/men-of-war-assault-squad-2-review
I'mjusttryingtopivotthecameraaroundwhenIaccidentallyhitE.Suddenly,I'mlookingoverthe
shoulderofasquadleaderwiththeUSMarineCorps.HisrifleisfollowingmycursorandWASD
moveshimaround.MenofWar:AssaultSquad2isanRTSsowhatthehellisgoingon?Nomatter:
I spend the next gleeful minute headshotting advancing Japanese soldiers in this surprise third
personshooterminigame.Later,Ilearnthatthismodeiscalled"DirectControl,"andIcantrigger
it with any unit at any time. "Accidentally discovering something awesome" will soon become a
fourwordsummaryofmytimewithAssaultSquad2.Itsadeep,complexrealtimestrategygame
set in various theaters of World War 2, with five distinct armies with their own multistage
campaigns, hundreds of unique vehicles, dozens of personal weapons, melee combat, seasonal
camouflage, fully destructible environments, and realistically modeled armor penetration. Put
together,theseelementspaintatacticalpicturemorechaoticanddeeplyrealizedthanCompany
ofHeroes2orCloseCombat.Onthedownside,AssaultSquad2isntinterestedinteachingyou
much of anything, so your curriculum for selfeducation is vast.
Selfeducationtakestime,soatthisearlystageI'mincompetent.MyMarinesarehavingahellof
atimetakingthisunnamedislandbackfromtheJapaneseevenwithmyassistanceintheform
ofadeadshotsnipersquadleaderinDirectControlmode.Theyveheldoffacounterattack,andI
seeonesoldierhasaredammoclipoverhishead.Atthatmoment,Ilearnthatsoldierscanrun
out of ammo and that every soldier in the game has his own inventory system full of grenades,
bandages,andentrenchingequipment.Momentslateranotherassaultwavebegins,allofmymen
runoutofammo,andeveryonedies.
Nomercy
Hoursofexperimentationlater,Idecidetomakethejumptomultiplayer.Therearefivemultiplayer
modes, but, true to form, the differences between their rulesets are never fully explained. The
most interesting is Assault Zones Extreme, a jumbosized eightoneight version of the standard
resourcecapturegamemode.Inresourcecapturemodes,cashfortroopsaccruesgradually,and
eachsoldiertypehasacooldowntimerafterrecruitment.Theshortestgamesaretheoneonone
fights,whichtypicallylastonlyafewminutesandendwithadecisivewinner.Thetowninmyfirst
match, a French village with a robust shipping and industrial neighborhood, seems completely
empty. In a horror game, an empty rural village would be cliche, but in online RTS play, its
unbearablytense.Myopponentishiding.TosayImwoundabittightwouldbeanunderstatement.
Minutespass.Mymenhavecapturedallthreecontrolpointsinthecenterofthesmall,oneversus
one map. Sweat beads on my forehead. I have every squad hunkered down behind cover, their
guns trained on the foggy fields and dirt roads that the enemy should be marching down. My
victorypointsclimbto50percent,thento70percent.AsIround80percent,myfeargiveswayto
confusion.Iprymyhandoffthemousetotypeintotheglobalchat:Hello?Afteramoment,a
responsecomesthrough:sorryIwasafklol.Tanksandmortarsandarmoredcarsandmachine
gunsandsniperteamslightupmyminimap,andmymenstarttodie.Thegameisover.MyJohnny
comelatelyopponenthaswon,100pointsto85.Inretrospect,hislateentrylethimsaveuphis
resourcepointsanddevotethemtopowerfularmorunits.AfterIlostthosecontrolcenters,Iwas
insuchascrambletogetthembackthatItriedtooverwhelmmyenemywithcheapinfantry:a
dumbmistakethatcostmeeverything.Histardinessplayedsowell,Icanthelpbutwonderifhe
wasreallyafklol,orifitwasahideoustrap.Evenafterthreehoursoflearninghowtoplay,even
withan80pointhandicap,IplummetedstraightoffthesideofAssaultSquad2spitilesslearning
curve.Ishouldhavebeensomadatthegame,butIwasnt.Iwantedmore.Iwantedtolearnthe
tricksandstrategiesthatmyopponentalreadyknew:thesecretsthatwouldunlockthegame.
Stockholmsyndrome
Muchlater,Imbackinsingleplayer.IvesentJapaneseshocktroopsacrossmostofanislandagainst
those corneating, American dogs. Ive learned a lot over the last few days. Ive learned how to
resupplysquadswithasingleclick,howtorearrangeandorganizeshatteredunitsafteranattack,
andhowtogaingroundwithoutexposingtroopstoenemyarmor.Itakeonesquadofeightmen
andhighlighthalfofthem,creatingasecondsquadontheflyandsendingthemaroundtoflank.
Meanwhile, I send my heavy tank and armored car up a western road in a column, providing a
massivebaseoffirewhilemyinfantryclosesin.AnAmericanMarinemanagestolobanantitank
grenadebeforeIkillhim,andtheblasttearsoffoneofmytanktreadsandcookstheengine.My
crewbailsout,oneofthemscreamingandonfire.Theothertwoarealive,butarmedwithonly
pistols. I send them over to two fallen Marines, take their weapons and ammo, and absorb the
surviving tankers into my infantry squad as a pair of new SMGtoting assault soldiers.
My keystrokes are faster now, and Im more confident. I never send troops forward without an
establishedbaseoffire,andIvelearnedhowtostopmyentirearmyfrombellycrawlingslowly
acrossopenterrain.MyarrogancegrowsasIeasilycapturethelastAmericanbaseonthemap.A
supplycratedropsinandIsendtwosquadsatit,fillingtheirarmswithminesandammo.Iorder
twoothersquadstobegindiggingtrenchesandfillingsandbags,whilestillanothertakesarepair
kitandusesittogetthedisabledtankmovingagain.Withinminutes,wereabristlinghiveofangry
metal,readytodefendagainsttheAmericancounterattack.Ismuglyglowwithprideattheefficient
wayIrefittedmymentochangefromassaulttodefense.Thecounterattackcomes,anditcomes
hard.Evenwithtimesloweddown,IcantkeepupwiththepaceasAmericansrushinbythedozen.
Iveplacedmyminesinthewrongcorridors,andwithouttheirexplosivepower,Idonthavethe
bulletsIneed.One,thentwo,thennineofmymenrunlowonammoasthebodiespileup.After
allofmybegging,allofmywork,AssaultSquad2isntreadytogiveintomeyet.AsIfumblewith
keyboardshortcutsthatIlearnedfromforumposts,thegamewithhiddendepthsbeatsmeover
theheadagainwithmyignorance.
AssaultSquad2islikebeinghandedapuzzlewithnopicture,thenlearningafterseveralhoursthat
itisactuallyathreedimensionalpuzzleandactuallyitsamodelairplane.Learningandmastering
itsdepthswasrewardingtome,butIimagineitwouldbefrustratingtoplayersnewtoRTSes.For
all its excellent graphics and features you cant find anywhere else in the RTS genre, theres no
reason for the game to be so openly hostile to new players, and I fear that the multiplayer
communitywillfailtoflourishasaresult.IloveAssaultSquad2,butitwasnotaneasyromance.
Itsbrutaldifficultyspikesandhandsoffapproachtotrainingshouldserveasawarningtoallbut
themostgrizzledofarmchairgenerals:thisgameiswar,andwarishell.
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