Been hellishly busy for the last 2 weeks (projects and assignments, tests) so didn’t really have time to write anything.
Anyway, in the interim, I got two strategy games – Silent Storm (S^2… they probably didn’t want to call it ‘SS’) and Faces of War.
S^2 is a (mainly) turn-based tactics game. You can control up to 6 agents as part of an elite squad for either the Allies or Axis. The game shares some similarity with Hidden & Dangerous except you directly control more than one agent at a time, and the inventory system in S^2 is space-based rather than weight-based. You also manage where to put their experience points, and the game has an extensive “upgrade tree” that gives your characters stat improvements.
Though the game’s combat is turn-based, it zips along at a quick pace. Though entire missions can last a long time, there are typically breaks between firefights when neither side can pinpoint the other, so you can scrounge for equipment and restock in the meantime.
It has serviceable (for a turn-based game) graphics and nice sound effects, though some of the voiceovers are a bit annoying and repetitive. My sniper probably repeated “When you try hard, you get better” at least 3 times per mission. Aside from that, as far as turn-based games go (I don’t play them much), it’s very fun.
Faces of War is the sort-of sequel to Solders. Aside from a more creative name, it’s very similar to Soldiers. You control a fairly small number of troops, and you perform tasks which, at first glance, would be impossible for such a small group (think ‘9 vs 150’) but with sound tactics and good placement of troops (and timely use of Direct Control) you can overcome the odds.
Faces of War is in a very odd position – it’s not exactly a third-person shooter, but it’s not really as big as other RTS’s – so it would fit inside the “Real-Time Tactics” niche.
One comparison often made with FoW is to Company of Heroes. Both came out at around the same time, and is similarly themed. However, whereas Company of Heroes is more about controlling a battalion, capturing locations, and fighting unit-to-unit, FoW is more about small-scale operations set within a bigger battle (suprise attacks, sabotage raids, etc.)
FoW also retains Soldiers‘ Direct Control system and level of complexity. Each unit has its own space-based inventory (even vehicles and such) and unlike most RTS’s, ammo can run out in this game. Direct Control basically turns FoW into something like Darwinia (i.e. like a third-person shooter). You can move your guy around and shoot his weapon wherever you’re pointing. Usually the AI is pretty good at targetting and shooting by themselves, but this allows for a further degree of precision.
So, yep, those are the two games I’m playing right now (aside from Tomb Raider: Annniversary and Counter-Strike: Source. Fun!