Guest Author - James Shea
"Wargame: European Escalation" is a relatively solid real-time-tactics game with some minor issues.
Set in a "Cold War gone hot" scenario, Wargame: European Escalation casts you as either a NATO or Warsaw Pact commander in several different scenarios (as well as skirmish matches and multiplayer). The player commands groups of tanks, helicopters, infantry and so on to capture key points, hold objectives, and defeat the enemy. The game's scale is relatively large and "zoomed out", so it's possible to be ordering around over a hundred units at a time (though they're at least grouped into platoons for relatively easy ordering). The game's camera can be zoomed in far enough to see individual tanks in relatively good detail, or it can be zoomed out far enough to see the entire battlefield.
The game has a lot of detail in some areas and not quite enough in others. Every unit has limited ammunition and fuel that must be replenished either by moving the unit to a stockpile or having a truck or helicopter bring supplies to the unit. Units engage at realistically long ranges and require line of sight to do so (except for artillery). Forests and urban areas can provide concealment for units. However, in certain areas the game is frustratingly simplistic. The maps are all relatively flat, and while there ARE hills and curves in the terrain that affect line of sight, they're difficult to spot from anything but the closest possible range. It's not really possible to affect how units are directed or pointed once they're in position, despite the fact that tanks and other vehicles have different levels of armor on different sides. Infantry especially seem limited, with no options to dig in or take advantage of any cover that vehicles can't already do.
The game's graphics are relatively nice, at least considering the scale being worked with. They're not amazing, but they're functional, and there's a lot of different units from the Cold War era. The game's unlock system is a little frustrating - playing through missions earns you "command stars", which are then used to unlock new units. It's not possible to jump into a skirmish game and use whatever units you want, you have to unlock them by playing the regular game first. This isn't necessarily a huge deal mechanically (since you can unlock the basic unit classes pretty quickly and a lot of the units are similar) but it's frustrating from a design standpoint.
Overall, Wargame: European Escalation is a decent game, but not anything special. It's certainly functional aside from a few issues, but the relatively low detail may turn off those looking for an in-depth experience, and the scale may annoy those looking for a more casual one. Not really worth going out of your way for.
I purchased this game with my own funds in order to do this review.
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