By Eric T. Baker

Men of War from 1C Company for the PC is a real-time strategy game set during World War II. Its three campaigns—Russian, German, and Allied—are set in Europe and North Africa. The Russian campaign is set in Rostov during November 1941 and asks the player to halt the German advance. The German campaign is set between 1941 and 1943 and models the landing on Crete and the war in Libya. The Allied campaign is set in the same time period and models the battles in Algeria and Tunisa.

What sets MoW apart from so many other WWII RTS games is how hard it is. The player never has the advantage in any scenario; his forces are always outnumbered. In addition, there is not the simple “rock, paper, scissors” of unit types. Victory in MoW comes from exploiting cover and line of sight rather than from matching the right units against the opponents. This is more realistic than many RTS games, but it is a demand that is hindered by the poor path- finding of the various units.

Another advantage of MoW over other RTS games is that the terrain is completely destructible. Trees, buildings, sand bags, and on and on. All of it can be blown up or run over or knocked down. Which is part of the problem with the path-finding. Tanks prefer to go through obstacles instead of around them, which can negatively impact an entire battle if that obstacle was going to be another unit’s cover. All in all, MoW is not for the faint of heart. Like real war, it demands constant attention to all the details.

Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor for the PC from THQ is a “stand-alone expansion” of the base Company of Heroes game. In practice this means that players who have the original CoH game will be seeing the old game engine and its units used in new ways. Players who don’t have the game will be able to play these single-player and multiplayer campaigns straight out of the box. There are three of each type of campaign, although the single player ones are shorter than “campaign” implies and the multiplayer ones each have only one map.

The scale of CoH:ToV is also smaller than that of similar games built on similar game engines. One each of the single- and multiplayer campaigns has the player commanding only a single tank. These campaigns are actually quite fun as being able to focus on commanding and leveling up with new abilities a single unit is a nice break. New for this expansion is the ability to manually aim the tank’s gun, but since the player can’t also manually drive the tank, he will probably end up letting the AI do the shooting as well.

As well as this engine tweek, there are also some new units in the game, but they are added in as replacements for existing units, so the net amount of units doesn’t change. For instance, the German Schwimmwagen replaces the German motorcycle units. It’s actually one of the most useful units in the game because it can back up. Overall, players who have never played CoH are better off starting with the original game. Players who own CoH will have to decide if the price is worth the new elements.

For players who find themselves taking World War II in general, and the Soviet parts of it in particular, too seriously, Mezmer Games has an answer. No need to worry about historical accuracy or if the maps model the right battlefields in their stress-relieving RTS game for the PC, Stalin vs. Martians. Set in the WWII time period, as much as it is set anywhere, this digital download game pits the Soviet forces against the menagerie of the invading Martians.

There is clear homage to Mel Brooks in this game as the promotional campaign spends as much ink on the score and the alleged dancing of Stalin as it does on the game play, but the game does have 12 missions. The RTS is arcade style with power-ups instead of leveling and reinforcements that come fast and furious. It’s not giving anything away to say that the ultimate unit is a giant Stalin himself. Either this sort of thing works for you or it doesn’t, but for those who enjoy a little silly now and then, SvM is as silly as it comes.

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