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Community Discussion: Blog by Panzadolphin56 | Some mildly pedantic thoughts on Wargame: European EscalationDestructoid
Some mildly pedantic thoughts on Wargame: European Escalation - Destructoid




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About


Oh hey!

I'm celebrity author and renowned street mime Panzadolphin56. This is my blog. I write things here.

...in case the blog bit didn't give that away.

Anyway! To the left you'll find my latest blogs, and beneath this you'll find a fairly comprehensive list of most of what I've written over the years (unfortunately some stuff does eventually get bumped off the list.)

I like to write from a fairly critical standpoint about games, usually analysis or talking about issues that interest me, I also do retrospectives from time to time, talk about games I've been playing, write the funny things that come into my head, and very occasionally do some crappy art.

I hope you enjoy what you read!

I also make videos a little now, so check those out if you'd like - http://www.youtube.com/user/godi3400

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A little about me:

I am mostly a story person, good mechanics are good mechanics but button pressing never does anything for me. I like Horror, I like Cyberpunk, I like Neo-Noir (especially crossed with Cyberpunk), I like good art and good writing, I like games that cut against the grain or choose to challenge social or industry norms in some way.

I don't have a single favourite game but I am a big fan of the MGS games, Snatcher, the Forbidden Siren series, Silent Hill 2, the old-school Resident Evils, Advance Wars and Power Dolls, among many, many others.

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Critical Pieces:

Of Inventories and Horror Games
Crafting A Good Game of 'The Thing'
Alien(s), Creative license and Borrowed Ideas
Crossing from TV/Movie to Games
Scope and Depth in the world of gaming
Boss Battles - When do they ever make sense?
Survival Horror Essentials
Colonial Marines: Well, that kind of sucked...
Disability, Disease in Games
Blood 2 and Post-Modernism
Topics, Tropes and Atmosphere in Horror games
Realism Vs. Fantasy - Who Wins?
The gradual drift away from the mainstream
Is There Horror in The Ugly...?
The Fourth Wall and taking games seriously
Are You Always Online?
Hype: Aliens Vs. Predator
To shoot stuff or not to shoot stuff?
Character Design and Choice in Games
Culture Vs. Creativity: Where do Stories come from?
Where you go Isometric-Strategy Games?
What's the Point of Games?
Do Horror games even still exist...?
Why are Characters Always so White...?
Choice in Games: Heavy Rain

A Magical Dolphin Plays:

Sepulchre
The King of the Wood

Retrospectives:

Resident Evil Remake
Aliens Vs Predator 2
Sweet Home
Forbidden Siren
System Shock 2

Pick up and Plays:

Call of Cthulhu and the Spectre of Good Horror
Story Books and Nightmares in Rule of Rose
B-Movie Bliss: Extermination
Along for the ride with Michigan: Report From Hell
Some thoughts on Wargame: European Escalation
Skyrim: Impressions

Funny/Less Critical Stuff:

Get Yo Summer Game On
Lazyblog: Box Art
Escaping into the Darkness of Hellnight
Diversity what what?!?: Black Mamba Edition
Why Do We Still Have Exploding Barrels...?

Art:

Dead Space 3, in a nut shell.
CROSSOVER: Mario X Siren
Boss: Learning the Tools of the Trade

Front Pages:
Tales from Skyrim: The skinhead shopkeep
Player Profile
PSN ID:karatedolphin66
Steam ID:PD56
Mii code:Hell if I know!
Raptr ID:Anarchicheron
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Twitter:@acidmphino
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It's not often games buck the trend, there's a lot of money out there in being able to copycat or toe-the-line when it comes to the industry standards for a genre, and it's often easier to do that than try and stand out. In the strategy genre, atleast on the PC, this has been a particularly prevalent theme for the last decade or so, with a string of decent enough titles coming out one after the other, each with a element of individuality but not really enough to stand them too far out from the crowd. Wargame: European Escalation is a game that attempts to buck that trend.

The game came out about 4 months ago now so I've had some time to make my way through the single-player campaigns and tried a little of the 'against AI' missions. Overall I've been really impressed with the game, at it's simplest (and particularly early on in the game) it can be played like most RTSs, with you chucking units at a problem till it goes away, but as the campaigns develop the emphasis shifts and strategic obstacles start being put in your way – you're no longer able to send long-range scouts out or attack the enemy's command units with an airborne assault at will, for example, for fear of them running into entrenched anti-aircraft artillery that could knock them out of the sky; you start having to think about the value of your units, and whether or not you'll be wasting them when you make each new move.



As it develops it becomes much more a game of strategy, with the value of each piece having to be weighed, the likelihood of running into hidden enemy units considered, the merits of cover mulled and even the range of your surveillance units taken into consideration. The game does all this beautifully well, with the player really having to consider everything he or she does (especially considering the unit limits and limited resources you have), but there are things about the game that I didn't like and thought could have been done better:

The campaign structure, for example, focuses on four separate stories, each leading on from one another in terms of difficulty but completely unrelated otherwise. Each is a hypothetical, each gives you a range of different units at your disposal from either Nato or Warsaw Pact forces, or both. The problem is though that the scenarios themselves don't really have very concrete goals, true the narrative surrounding each is interesting enough, but once you actually get into a mission most simply consist of taking or holding points. Occasionally you get a mission where you'll have limited units but that's mostly it. The game's very vague in that sense, buildings, structures and other landmarks have value as cover but not as objects of strategic worth, just the points you have to capture.

I feel like they borrowed a little too much from the regular RTS genre in this regard, the game really would have benefited from some sort of system which stressed holding strategic structures or landmarks like hills or bridges in order to better complete your mission; They wouldn't necessarily have to be sources of income - because that might change the feel of the game a little too much, but if keeping or losing them made some difference to the tone of the battle (say, whether or not your side or theirs felt as though they were winning) it might give more weight to keeping a hold of high value structures and positions.



On a similar note I also think the way the missions are designed are a little too inflexible and run of the mill – with each mission you're given a selection of units and have to put them into play in concert with one another. This works well for the most part as each unit plays off one another, with each having different strengths and weaknesses and different uses. However, apart from the very first mission, you're only ever given these units as a part of a bigger, wider, strategy; it would have been nice to explore the unique aspects of each kind of unit in some form of asymmetrical warfare – infantry for example are brilliant at ambushes, and taking out individual units or sniping tanks from within the tree line; some helicopters like the Mi-24 (Hinds) are excellent at battering and stunning tanks whilst others like the Apaches and Havocs are much better at targeting and eliminating individual armoured targets though they themselves are limited in availability; but you only ever get to explore these aspects through an overall battlefield strategy, you never get to explore them on a one-on-one basis. Which is disappointing.

I'm not saying they necessarily should have allowed you to use just infantry for a mission or just tanks, or anything like that, but a few missions here and there where you only had one type of unit and had to work with that unit's strengths and weaknesses would have been nice – for example, having to stall a tank column pushing down a highway using only entrenched/hidden infantry units; or, having to whittle away at a far away invasion force approaching an airbase using only aircraft. Not only would it have been technically challenging but also set it apart from most strategy games.



I'm not saying what the game offers is in any way bad, the levels themselves are for the most part very enjoyable, but what you get does show up the flaws in the way the strategy system works within European Escalation – units work well in cohesion but independently they're often useless.

Those are my only proper complaints, I have some minor niggles:

I think it's a shame you can't pause time in the game, or atleast pause for a few seconds to order units properly, there are often times when the speed of your mouse clicks is more important than how strategy-minded you are, which I think is a shame.



In a similar vein, you can't group units together very well, sure you can form units of the same type into squad/airwings/whatever, but you can't create groups of different units with a particular goal – so you can't group a bunch of Bradley IFVs and Abrams into a column to provide infantry with heavy armour cover, as they'll all drive off at different speeds and won't keep pace with one another, nor can you put a reconnaissance helicopter together with Hinds or Apaches and have them move in formation to a target, as each type of unit will act independently of one another.

Obviously you can move them all together, but as soon as you deselect the units you'll have to drag and reselect them all again. You can't just click one unit to get that whole group, which seems a shame. Not to mention the fact that they are move at different speeds, so with the Hinds and reconnaissance helicopter example above, more often than not the reconnaissance helicopter will get shot down before the Hinds get to what you moved them to fire at. You can still do these things, but it often requires you to do a lot of micromanagement – moving each unit to different places to make sure they're not in the firing line.



Another thing, pretty minor, and more a selfish desire than anything: No planes.

Seems a shame you can utilise any sort of fixed-wing air cover or call in air strikes. Being able to call in close air support from some A-10s or Sukhois in a tight spot would have been fun!

But like I say, that's more a personal desire than anything.

Overall, the game is thoroughly enjoyable, and though there isn't any attempt to offer historical element to the battles to engage you (past the justifications for the conflicts) what they do give you is an engaging and enjoyable slice of very strategically minded real-time strategy. Let's just hope it's the start of a series!
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