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First Battalion (Windows)

61
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
MobyScore
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Written by  :  SifouNaS (1317)
Written on  :  Aug 21, 2007
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Summary

Quick remedy for your rampaging urges!

The Good

I remember playing Call Of Duty, or Medal Of Honor (can't remember in which one it was) some years ago an in one level the player took command of a tank and blasted his/her way through a whole level. You could see the action from the tank's turret and you could fire both the cannon and the machine-gun. I thought that this was an excellent idea and wished to find a game which would be like that level. Well, some years after that moment my wish came true!

Fields of Glory is exactly like that, the player takes commend of various WWII tanks and crosses areas in which various assignments are given for completion. The variety of the missions is quite large but they all involve that you take down some sort of installation, or eliminate the resisting forces.

Instead of driving around with your tank and only shooting at enemy tanks, the games offers a nice wide selection of opposition units which apart from many kinds of armored vehicles include: AT flak guns, machine gun bunkers, infantry armed with a variety of weapons, aircraft, armored train cars, watchtowers etc.

The missions are based on real historical facts, but the routes and the way that you play game is purely in an arcade manner: take your tank, follow a specific route, blast them all to pieces till the area is clear and the mission is complete. Missions follow a style of go to point A, then to point B, C, D and on, till the last and main objective is met. Some of them are presented as missions of the last minute opportunity, for example you're being directed to go to the train station because an enemy train loaded with supplies and armored cars has just pulled in, but all this is pre-scripted.

The tanks that you have on your disposal are all the major models of the WWII, either German, Soviet or American. On each mission you get the opportunity to taste the power of a new model and adapt your fighting style accordingly against various enemy vehicles and installations, cause every model has it's strengths and weaknesses. For example the Soviet T-34 that you're being given in the beginning of the Soviet themed missions has a very poor armor and a cannon suitable only for mosquitoes :) Driving your tank can be quite tricky at the first few minutes but it is very easy to get used to it and there's also the option in the menu to switch to easy driving (directional) or switch to car-like driving. Each model has it's own handling behavior but after the first level, one has already the hang of it.

On this game you're not being a lone hero, but you take the command of a whole armored squad, usually consisting of 3-4 tank vehicles. In order to allow things to have an arcade flow the only commands you can issue to your squad is only to attack, defend a spot, or repair themselves. Once you're issuing a command they go on their own and do their jobs the best way they can without really interacting with you. After the battle you can call them up again to gather up and proceed on a formation to the next waypoint.

Apart from commanding an array of tanks, including yours of course, you have the option to call air support strikes and that is done in a very smart way; you target the enemy unit with your binoculars and by left clicking you throw a red smoke flare on to the enemy thus indicating to the bombers their target. In a couple of seconds a squad of dive bombers appear out of nowhere and bombard the spot that you've indicated. The targeting trick is very neat and I didn't believe that it actually works so well, but it does, 9 out of 10 times! Unfortunately the amount of air strikes you have at your disposal for each mission is very limited and in some missions you don't have that option at all.

Talking of auto targeting, the whole game is based on a kind-of auto targeting and in my opinion this comes to the player's favor as it doesn't take a single thing from the arcade enjoyment. Judging from playing this one, If precise aiming was needed in this game, it would be a rather frustrating experience.

The graphics of the game are really nice and they do resemble the authenticity of the real environments and the atrocity of war. In general the graphical aspect is good and supports adequately the gaming enjoyment.

Finally the enemy AI is quite good, the enemy moving units try to ambush you and they don't loose an opportunity to use the element of surprise. The stationery units have a good aim and unless you keep on moving they'll take you down easily. Therefore the player is required to have a bit of strategic thinking in order to find good spots to surprise the enemy and find cover from their fire.

The Bad

The thing that annoyed me mostly in this game is the lack of viewing the action from the commander's spot on the tank's turret. There's a similar view which is above the turret, but in order to see where your vehicle is heading you either have to look down on it, or look at the tank's status icon on the bottom right and make it up from there. The third person views are a fair substitution for that and really save the day, but in my opinion it would have been perfect to have a commander's spot view.

Your squad mate's AI is ridiculous to say the least! They really know how to fight and attack, but when cruising around 9 out of 10 times they'll get in your way and they don't move aside to let you pass. What is worse is that if you bump on them accidentally and they're low on armor their units might explode.

Although I don't have a problem with the linearity of the route of missions in the game, I do have a problem when a long mission terminates as failed when I try to take a shortcut through the woods, only to take a good position behind the enemy and surprise them. In general the playing area is quite wide, but still there are corridors that you need to keep inside otherwise the game's logic thinks that you have failed your mission. Following that is the fact that your tank cannot climb objects that is possible for a tank to climb in reality, for example tiny cliffs and small stacks of debris or woods. Also your tank won't break down walls, as real tanks do and it won't break anything more than wooden gates to pass through, which steals a lot of the arcade-rampaging joy that this game wants to give you at the end of the day.

Finally the missions themselves and the gameplay in general get quite repetitive in the end. Although you have a new tank model to drive on each mission and the tasks of each leg vary, it's all the same in the end. Come here - destroy, go there - destroy, go over there take out (secure - sic!). Of course I didn't expect the game missions to send me on bird and vegetation watching missions with my tank, but there's little to be expected in terms of variety. The lack of a save game option only makes things worse as the missions have too many tasks to accomplish and can get too long in duration.

The Bottom Line

Despite the fact that your mission can end up as failed out of nowhere just because you went too far on the nearby woods, and despite the fact that your tank won't be as a mean machine as it is in reality, Fields Of Glory is an enjoying little game.

If you fancy having a drive in a tank on some old country roads and blast a few shots to some enemy units, having a laugh as they explode, without having all the technicalities and complex constraints of a realistic tank simulator, then this game is for you.

I certainly enjoyed this title, despite all the aspects that annoyed me. As I said in the beginning I was expecting such a game, an arcade tank simulator that would only involve a tiny bit of tactics and more firepower-ogre excitement than anything else. Fields Of Glory has delivered these qualities and to be honest, it is very enjoyable in playing and I really liked every mission that I have accomplished.

Yet the fact that bugs me a bit, is that it could have been something more without loosing the lightheaded arcade role. Perhaps if it had an ability to get promotions and upgrades of your units. What this title lacks is more missions, more length and certainly it would do far better with a bit more depth.

As it stands, it's an enjoyable blasting arcade that it's installation will only last for a week or so, simply cause it hasn't got the goods to keep you with it for a very long time.