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War on Terror PC DVD-ROM

Published by Monte Cristo
Developed by Digital Reality
Release Date: 12th May 2006
Price: £34.99

War on Terror, an introduction.

The RTS genre has become a crowded one in recent times. Not only does a regular supply of good RTS games arrive on a yearly basis but the better ones from a few years ago tend to be re-released on budget labels on an increasingly regular basis. In order to stand out then, a RTS has to be something special and if it can't improve on what's already on offer it has to at least be of the same quality but offer something different. War on Terror may have the latter but it certainly does not have the former.

What's the game about?

War on Terror is a RTS that concerns itself with the very topical theme of terrorism. There are three factions in the game, World Forces, the terrorist Order and China. These factions draw parallels from real life with the World Forces being very American in nature in terms of the weapons and vehicles at their disposal. The Order are based in the Middle East and they rely on their resourcefulness more than their military sophistication. The China faction is essentially a mix of these two and requires a different method of play.

What's good about the game?

Each of the game's factions has their own campaign and each of these campaigns fits nicely with the other ones. All three of the factions play very differently from each other which more than makes up for the fact that there are only three factions in the game. Those of you who hate resource management will be happy to learn that there isn't any in the game. Essentially you'll earn mission points for completing objectives and these can be used to call in reinforcements on any checkpoint you are in control of. The single player game doesn't have any skirmish/random map modes, which is unfortunate but there are various multiplayer modes that offer Conquest, Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Capture the Flag game types. The game also comes with an editor too so that you can create your own maps.

What's not so good about the game?

The game, whilst not being a total disaster, is poor in a quite a few departments. The camera angles are problematic. By default the view is a top-down one whilst scrolling forward zooms right in to a third person perspective. There's no problem with this of course, except that sometimes the camera twitches when scrolling and becomes disorientating. The interface rather gets in the way too. Whilst you can drop down the various interface panels you'll need them showing most of the time and they are far too big. The game is subtitled but the subtitles aren't ideal, we'll talk in more detail on that in a moment. The tutorial isn't as good as it should have been and left me feeling confused at several points. Unit path finding seems pretty poor too and you'll find yourself carefully picking a route for your units, which means that you can't concentrate on units elsewhere on the map. Enemy AI is probably about as basic as it gets and you will not see your enemies make effective use of cover or tactics. In a nutshell then there's a lot here that's going to irritate RTS fans.

How does it look?

On the maximum graphical detail the game actually looks quite good. The units are nicely detailed, not the best we've seen but nevertheless they look good. The maps themselves are sufficiently detailed and you'll instantly recognise the real-world locations. For some reason the various movies you'll see in the game (thankfully there's not a great deal) look quite horrid, with the detail being far too low and grainy too. In fact you'd be disappointed with them if they were on the PlayStation 2 let alone a PC. Earlier we mentioned a few problems with the camera angles but it's also worth adding that the default, top-down, view doesn't afford a good enough view, whilst the full zoomed in view is pretty useless for a game of this nature.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

War on Terror is subtitled by default and whilst these are fine during the cutscenes, they are problematic during the main game. During missions you'll receive plenty of messages that appear on the top left of the screen. In fact at times you'll receive so many messages that's it's difficult to keep track of them all. It's also very easy not to notice the messages because of their positioning. New objectives and other important notifications should have been placed in the centre of the screen to ensure they captured the gamer's attention. Objectives are shown in text and they can be recalled at any time during a mission. Mission briefings are also shown in text.

Final thoughts.

Had War on Terror been a budget priced release it would have been difficult to recommend given the amount of quality budget priced RTS re-releases there are available. However, War on Terror is a full priced release and at the £34.99 asking price it's definitely best avoided. The problems with the game are simply too numerous and there are many better alternatives that should be considered before War on Terror.

Overall Game Rating: 4.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Whilst there are a few positives about War on Terror, on the whole it just doesn't cut the mustard and there are far better RTS alternatives. Whilst the game is subtitled the placing of them is far from ideal.