Men of War Assault Squad 2 Developed by Digital Mindsoft and published by 1C Company. Like · My ears always pick up when I hear the words strategy and world war two used in conjunction with each other but when i then hear the term real time strategy I think “oh dear I’m going to be building little bases and mining resources” (sadface). Developer’s Digital Mindsoft avoids all that foolishness and stay true to the ideas and concepts of traditional tabletop war games. Reinforcements are allocated more organically in response to conquering the objectives set by the mission and this is just one of many aspects in this game that help create the impression that you just bought the best box of toy soldiers ever.
Now i can only give a preview impression so far of the beta code and of the impressions I’ve gained from the rather healthy community that’s grown up around this series. I was surprised to see the beta already had plenty of YouTube footage and grown up review content floating around it and this was handy because initially the game looks bewildering and frighteningly complex. The tutorial immediately throws you into the thick of it like a master sergeant storming into a barrack room in a gas mask whilst throwing tear gas canisters around the place. It’s fair to say in the first scene you are controlling very little of the action and the enemy are going to foolishly throw themselves onto your guns, but it will make you sit up and take the game seriously!
Fortunately the rest of the tutorial mission is divided up into layers of defense that allow you brief respite from the chaos of micro managing all your troops and vehicles. I expect that for a number of reasons the tutorial is deliberately uninvolved due to the fact that the series hasn’t changed its core gameplay so they can rely on new converts learning from other players and the net. In fact the whole push behind this outing of MOWASTWO is toward the online world with no campaign as such it offers instead a series of skirmish missions for the single player many of which do seem geared to teaching you useful multiplayer skills like dealing with regular waves of troops and stealth missions that will encourage you to use the direct control mechanic in multiplayer and co-op to pull off heroic home runs into enemy objectives.
Direct control of vehicles and units though runs deeper into the game than being just a license to grandstand in multiplayer. your units come in squads but everything splits down to the individual right down to the bullets in a soldiers pack or the hit points in his body so the direct control is necessary for all the micro management you need to do such as refueling and rearming units, healing wounded troops, throwing grenades, repositioning artillery or even replacing the dead crew of a tank and repairing it. This gives you unparalleled freedom of action because you can dramatically change the course of battle by stealing damaged enemy vehicles or equipment. it’s great to see audacity and opportunism being rewarded in a computer game because so often in history battles have been won because someone did something beyond the call of duty.
It would be unfair to speak too much about the multiplayer at this stage because as it’s just out of beta into early access oddly rather than the promised full release so lobbies and matchmaking are bound to be a bit slow at this stage i will mention it in more detail when I review the full game next. the full game is expected to be released around April/June time and Digital Mindsoft have recommended waiting for the full game and only joining the early access community if they understand that the game is still being heavily tweaked and adjusted. What you will get at the moment is 15 of 40 single player skirmish missions some of the multiplayer and co-op maps. The US, Soviets and Germany are all available as playable factions and of course there is the Gem level editor.
It’s fair to say many fans have been annoyed at being forced into an early access status by stealth when they were led to believe they would have the full finished version by now. Equally many others realize that the delays are in response to the feedback generated by the open beta about issues like unit AI and path-finding and a general level of similarity to earlier versions of the game. The fans in this camp are happy to wait for the developer to address these issues and release a game that all sides will feel satisfied with. Personally I would expect a game in such a niche genre not to stray too far from its formula also I’m fairly used to early access situations and as long as I feel the developer has a good track record and the updates keep coming? Then i rather enjoy the “advent calendar” effect of an early access game.
With that said watch this space for my full review of the final release where i will be looking more closely at the multiplayer, the steam workshop mods and the skirmish missions in their fullness. For now i would agree with the games developers that first timers to the series should wait for the full public release, but that long term fans or the adventurous might well enjoy jumping into the early access especially if their aim is in the reach zone.