Reviewed: March 24, 2010
Released: March 8, 2010
The Korean War was one of the first major flare-ups during the cold war, and set the stage for one of the most lingering conflicts in the region. With that in mind, itís a little surprising that it hasnít got more attention in the realm of strategy games, past the more hardcore war games out there. 1Cís Theatre of War 3: Korea sets out to fill this gap, but a focus on the minutia of combat along with a somewhat intimidating campaign mode puts the game out of the reach of the casual RTS players in the audience.|
Theatre of War 3: Korea does a rather good job of setting the stage of the battles, with authentic units and equipment, battlefields that reflect the Korean war, and a fairly deep level of focus on the events happening on the field of battle. However, this focus can quickly become overwhelming. To mine a bridge, which might be a fairly routine act in another RTS, players need to select an infantry squad, select soldiers in turn until they find the ones who have the proper equipment, and then direct that specific soldier to set up the minefield. While this level of individual focus on the soldiers involved in a mission might be welcome in a game with smaller scale or more of a focus on the soldiers as characters, the focus of Theatre of War 3: Korea is squarely on the larger action, and plunging into the deeper levels of detail in what is otherwise a fairly broad, strategic game comes off as somewhat weird.
Speaking of the game on the strategic level, branching off from the standard model of having a plot-based campaign, Theatre of War 3: Korea places players on a strategic map, allowing them to direct troop movements, control the elements of their armies, and make decisions as to where they will strike, when, and how. While this degree of control can be fairly fascinating, the full in-game information on how to manage all of this comes in the form of a tip-of-the-day-style popup when a player begins the campaign. Players can play as both the Korean and American forces, albeit each with different starting conditions.
To further obscure the issues at hand, the game is somewhat poorly documented, with a tutorial that explains a few of the specifics of gameplay, such as mounting and dismounting helicopters, fixing and driving vehicles, setting up minefields, and dealing with ambushers. However, outside of these specifics, the game ends up being a rather vague experience, without much in the way of direction. While there are context-sensitive tooltips to help point the way, the gameís cluttered interface and somewhat puzzling glyphs to denote actions donít do much in terms of guiding the player towards acing their role as a commander.
That said, itís not all bad. While the interface and levels of specificity can be intimidating and somewhat disorienting, Theatre of War 3: Korea, is, above all, a realistic game, with grand amounts of detail, down to the names and equipment of soldiers, all of which is reflected in an extensive in-game encyclopedia, while a campaign creation mode lets players create their own missions, even adding in outside forces to complicate the situation past historical boundaries. For players used to harder-core war games, or who can handle the game having a broader focus than the typical Command & Conquer or Halo Wars, it can be a great buy. For the average gamer, though, itís awfully hard to recommend the game, despite all its depth.