14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Initial impressions: fantastic!,
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This review is from: Wargame: European Escalation [Download] (Software Download)
I just tonight purchased and downloaded this game as a birthday treat, and my first impression, after playing through the first scenario (a hypothetical encounter on the FRG-DDR border in December 1975 between Bundeswehr [West German] and NVA [East German] units; I played the West German side) is that this could be one of the big games of 2012. The game runs smoothly on my system (FX-4100, 8GB RAM, Windows 7 HP SP1, Radeon HD 6670/1GB) and the level of detail is amazing. As with any game of this complexity, there's a learning curve involved, and I'm still sorting out how to use logistics units properly to refuel/resupply combat units, for example. The basic mechanic of unit movement/combat is simple - almost deceptively so - however; you select your desired unit by left-clicking on it, and right-click on the map location where you want it to go. When an enemy unit comes into range, your units will fire automatically at it if it's within range.
I said "deceptively simple" because there's a LOT more to the game than just shoving units around the board, as I observed even in my relatively brief acquaintance. You need to pay careful attention not just to your troops' supply status, but to terrain (and concealment values thereof of various kinds of terrain), morale, and other factors, and you MUST maintain situational awareness of the battlefield around you - I lost one recce vehicle during the battle because I wasn't paying careful enough attention to where the East Germans were. If you're given reconnaissance units, _use them_. I haven't gotten yet to the point where things like artillery and air support are to be introduced, but I'm sure, judging from my play experience so far, that studying how to use them effectively will yield enormous rewards.
The game requires Steam installation, and will update automatically as soon as you've entered your key. Speaking of keys, there are actually two product keys you will need to input - the first one will be given to you by Amazon when you buy the game, and the second one, which comes up when you start the game for the first time, is required for activation of multiplayer capability; you will also need to open a (free) account on Focus Interactive's servers. I haven't investigated yet whether the game is capable of being modded; being so new, modding tools may not have been released yet. If and when they are, though, players can undoubtedly look forward to a huge range of new scenarios (I bet this game would be perfect for creating scenarios based on books like Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising", Harold Coyle's "Team Yankee" and Ralph Peters' "Red Army").
I've been playing NATO/Warsaw Pact wargames in classic "paper map and counters" format since the late 1970's, and it's really good to have a game like this to explore the tactics of what might have been, alongside the classic "World In Conflict". Stay tuned for updates to this review as I get deeper into the game!
EDIT 3/5 - I forgot to mention that the game has an auto-adjust facility that detects your key system components such as CPU, graphics card/driver, and RAM, and tweaks the game's video settings automatically to get the most playable and stable fit for your system. The game's graphics have mainly been set to "middle"/"medium" on my computer by the auto-adjust; I've had no issues yet with stability and the graphics quality looks real good even on "medium" (at least it does to me, but I'm not that fussy as long as the objects look like what they're supposed to look like. :) )
Also, the other reviewer is right about the AI; it's tougher than I expected. I think I got lulled into complacency by the first scenario; I'm attempting the second scenario/first campaign now, where Bundeswehr units have to relieve BAOR units and protect a key Autobahn junction, and so far I've gotten creamed in both attempts. I think I need to use the command stars I got from my first scenario to bring in some antiair units to knock down those pesky NVA scout helicopters that pop up immediately after my units rendezvous with the first British contingent.