When it comes to Real Time Strategy, there can be little doubt that the genre is often targeted at hardcore gamers with an authentic and deep love of it and as such, it’s often a tough crowd to please. Wargame: Airland Battle is a new RTS and the sequel to 2012’s Wargame: European Escalation, an all-round great game that could appeal to RTS and non-RTS gamers alike. Unlike its predecessor, however, Airland Battle is very much a mixed bag with some horrendously poor decisions when it came to the solo campaigns whilst featuring solid gameplay which fails to build on what the first game offered except in multiplayer.
The game can be seen as more of an expansion pack than a stand-alone game, as it borrows many features that could be found in European Escalation and most of these come through on the multiplayer which is for all intents and purposes the main focus of the game. Players can now choose from a large array of new units, many of which are aircraft based (a unit that was somewhat lacking in the previous game), and will now play a key role for you to go forth and counterattack and turn the tides of the battle. The command stars stats found in the first game that allowed players to purchase new units based on how much they play is gone in this installment and instead only appear to show how long you’ve been playing, which takes away some of the challenge within the game. Multiplayer is clearly where the developers spent much of their time on and it shows as you can now play with up to nineteen other players which makes for a heart pounding, pulse racing experience that only RTSs can give to gamers. There’s nothing like perfect coordination with nine other players allowing you to strike at the heart of the enemy and grasp a victory from the verge of defeat and there’s little doubt that Airland Battle is very exciting to play with others with hours of fun both taking part in battles as well as watching them unfold.
The single player, on the other hand, is another story and can only be described at abysmal at best. The worst aspect of this is the fact that you can’t even save your game. That may be understandable on a game from the early days of video game history, but in the twenty first century it is inexcusable in any way shape or form. This reviewer had poured a couple of hours into the game and was shocked to discover that it was a complete waste of time as I wasn’t able to go back. The mind boggles at the decision to leave out the ability to save and for a game that will set you back quite a hefty sum there simply cannot be any excuse. Apparently they’ve implemented an autosave, but if they have, it certainly wasn’t present in this reviewer’s game which forced him to start over every time he tried to return to campaign after quitting.
More still, playing against the AI doesn’t prove riveting and is often confusing and muddled leaving you wondering about just what the hell is going on. RTS for the most part is one of the few genres where single player is just as important as multiplayer and is often a deal breaker by fans. Choosing to release the game with such an abysmal campaign can be considered nothing short of insanity and, to be blunt, the game shouldn’t have even been released without it intact.
As a whole, Wargame: Airland Battle is a bizarre mix of exciting, engaging multiplayer and an abysmal solo campaign that feels like an afterthought. If you’re a player who prefers to play alone, avoid the game at all costs as it will be nothing but a brutal disappointment. If you’re looking only for a game that offers a great multiplayer experience, however, it’s worth checking out even if it doesn’t improve substantially on the original. All said, it’s a truly bizarre experience that must be improved upon if the developers have any aspiration of making a game to rank up there with the greats of the genre.