Reviewed: April 26, 2002
Released: October 22, 2001
The War Engine was designed to be the most versatile turn-based war game available today. This game is the sequel to Armies of Armageddon and is being touted as the “Ultimate Wargame Construction Kit”. The War Engine features solid gameplay, although it does get tedious and frustrating at times.
This game was created by a small company known as Boku Strategy Games. Boku Strategy Games is an in-house development team for Shrapnel Games and they have created various titles for Shrapnel Games over the past few years. The Combat Command series of turn-based games are very well known in the wargaming community and were created by Boku Strategy Games.
The War Engine features seven gaming modules and also a built-in editor. The gaming modules include everything from a quick game of paintball to a turn-based game held in the far reaches of outerspace. Keep in mind that each gaming module has a different theme, but each of the modules must follow the rules and regulations within the same game engine. The seven gaming modules that are included in The War Engine are listed in detail below:
I have always been one that enjoys a good wargame. I was currently enjoying a good game of Ghost Recon when a package arrived at my door. I paused my game of GR to open the package and see what was inside. Sinjin had sent me another new game to review! I opened the shrink-wrap, exited my game of GR (after saving where I had left off, of course), and proceeded to install The War Engine.
The manual that was included in the package was one of the most extensive that I had ever seen. It included 70 pages of not just how to play the game, but also how to create and play your own game. So far to date, all of the Shrapnel games that I have received and played have all included very extensive manuals. The included manuals are not always the easiest to read or follow, but all of the information you are looking for is in there somewhere.
The War Engine basically has three types of phases during the game turn. The first phase is the movement phase. It’s in this phase that you actually move your individual soldiers. The second phase is the target phase, and the third phase is the firing phase. When you have finished these three phases then your turn is over and you start the entire process over again.
Once the game was installed, I loaded up the module entitled: “Tour of Duty ‘44”. This module has you start by landing your very small troop of marines on the beach. Be prepared to suffer many, many casualties during your beach assault. Luckily (not really, read on), you receive numerous backup soldiers to continue on up the beach to take out the bad guys. After about an hour of moving each soldier numerous times and then moving each of the backup soldiers, and moving each soldier, and then moving each of the backup soldiers, receiving new backup soldiers, and… aaarrrrggg!!
After about an hour of clicking and selecting, and clicking and selecting, and clicking some more, I had only moved about half way up the beach and I lost my patience with this gaming module and decided to play another module. This gaming module required way too much time and clicking to even have been included with this game. If I could have been able to group my troops and movements, then I may have just finished this gaming module…onward to the Paintball module!
Paintball did prove to be a bit better. It did move a bit faster, but that was only because the battle map was in a smaller more condensed area. I was actually able to confront the enemy in this gaming module so the monotony of clicking and selecting, and clicking and selecting, and clicking and selecting wasn’t as annoying.
I have to admit that I really wasn’t that impressed with the visual quality of the game right from the beginning. It does use an 800 x 600 screen resolution, but the graphics look like something out of a late 1980’s computer game. The blocky graphics and unanimated characters tend to make the game unattractive and very dated.
The audio within this game is very bland and basic. It includes some shouts from fellow soldiers, as well as the sound of gunfire when confronting an enemy. There is no musical soundtrack within the game.
The War Engine does have a few strong points and part of this area is one of them. When you create your own gaming modules you have the ability to customize and use any sounds that you like within your own game. This can make the possibilities endless, and you can really create some great sound effects.
I didn’t really play this title very long. I have to admit that I like games with a few more bells and whistles, and for forty dollars you can get just that in many of the other games out there today. The power of this game is in its ability to replay, but only if you are a diehard gamer that enjoys turn-based strategy games.
Play by Email has been used in many of Shrapnel’s games and is great fun for turn-based games. One of the nice features of PBEM is if you have a friend in the Armed Services and he or she is overseas. The time difference is what makes PBEM possible. Your opponent’s ability to react and move when you are asleep makes this type of network play possible. The email attachments are very small and therefore you don’t need a very powerful system to play The War Engine.
If you enjoy games like Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Age of Empires, etc., then you will most likely not be able to deal with the snail’s pace at which this game moves. You would be much better off saving your forty dollars and getting Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds instead.