Wages of War
Wages Oe War Puts You In The hot seat of Mercs Inc and it's up to you to take on missions in a brave, new, futuristic, post-holocaust world, recruit teams of up to eight soldiers, equip them with all kinds of fancy hardware and then tell them exactly what to do to carry out the mission.
However, before you wonder how your rsi will cope with an entire squad of mercenaries, there's nothing real-time about Wages of War. It's a strictly turnbased affair with each unit having a set number of action points to carry out various things like reloading, running, firing and so on. None of the units -except the enemy ones - are ai-controlled at all so you have to do everything yourself.
Individual soldiers can be instructed to run, walk, crawl, kneel, reload or fire any available weapons. Better still, they can throw grenades, smoke bombs, or satchel charges, just like any self-respecting sas hard case. What really adds to the expedience is the other actions the men (and the women, for that matter) can carry out. For example, soldiers can give first aid to themselves or others, pick up dropped equipment or exchange it with the wounded or dead of either side. They can also cut wire fences, set explosive timers, push buttons, fire flares, open and shut doors ,and fire a mortar when it's available. They can even carry wounded mates out of danger.
All this is done using a mouse-driven interface with a panel of easy-to-remember icons and it really works well. You can be up and running in the game in no time at all and while there are one or two things I'd change, like provide a quick access inventory for each soldier, it's undoubtedly one of the game's many strong points.
Dirty dozen... or so
This combination of turn-based movement and the wide range of actions means there are dozens of ways to carry out the missions. You can play the 16 scenarios as one-offs or by way of a complete campaign, but you do have to spend a lot of time planning each mission. This makes it more of a game for the strategy buffs (OK, anoraks) than the point-and-shoot Command & Conquer brigade.
For play balance reasons, the really exciting hardware is only available in later missions, but as the list includes Panzerfausts, law rockets and dozens of types of handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns, knives and even a crossbow, it's certainly mouth-watering stuff. Unfortunately, the weapons tend to break down or go dud a little too often for my tastes and you can end up with only two or three men with functioning weapons.
The minor niggles are just page fillers, though. There's only one serious flaw and that's that the enemy take a lot of killing. You have to pump round after round into inert bodies just to be sure they don't get up again. Without that, the game would be close to orgasmic. In fact, it still is.
It's undoubtedly the most exciting game I've played this year and the first one that's made me chuck out the hexbased stuff and stay up all night for something completely different. It's got an authentic combat feel, varied missions and hardware, and beautifully done SVGA graphics. In effect, it's Jagged Alliance the way we wanted it and X-COM the way it should have been. A thinking man's skirmish combat dream. And a bloody wet one at that.
Download Wages of War
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode