In this review, we’re going to get to know Petroglyph Games’ new title, The Great War: Western Front, and find out how it runs on PC
Strategy titles are a type of video game that is difficult to develop. One of the main difficulties, especially nowadays, is that of do not create a title that is a copy of another. After seeing the various sagas of Company of Heroes, Age of Empires and Total War, it seems to us hard to find something that can surprise us and, why not, entertain us like some of the chapters of these great strategists.
However the team of Petroglyph Games he didn’t let himself be demoralized by the challenge and has recently released his latest RTS. But how will he fare during our test? We just have to start this review and discover The Great War: Western Front togetherthe video game that will make us relive the Great War, at least on the western front.
The Western Front lights up again
As the name itself says, and also the subtitle above, the main theme will be the front thatduring the years from 1914 to 1918, it extended between Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. We will find ourselves reliving the great battles that made some of the regions affected by the war famous, such as for example the battle of Verdun or that of the Somme.
We will therefore relive in a context already seen and known by playing other games, but under a completely new key. Some of the elements that made this war different from the others were the use of trenches and attrition with which the various armies have learned to live. In The Great War: Western Front these elements have been taken up and exploited properlyrecreating as faithfully as possible what was the historical context of the time.
So get ready to plan a long-term offensive tactic and do not be in a hurry to send your men to meet your opponents. Calmness and perseverance will be the real key to this title; after all, the war did not last a single day. Conquering an inch will sometimes be more important than obtaining a complete victory, but now let’s go in order and explain what are the main features of the title.
Operational Map and Planning – The Great War: Western Front Review
The protagonists of the conflict are the allies on the one hand and the powers of the Central Powers on the other. Although many nations have fought this war over the years, the Western Front has seen the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires vie for dominance over the regions against Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States and the various colonies they dominate. However in the title only German forces will be present on the one hand and those French, Belgian, American and English (with the related colonies) on the other.
We can therefore note that the front in question is the one that was most affected by the various battles, or at least in part. Indeed, the campaign takes place on a not-so-large operational map. In fact, part of France, Germany and Belgium will be represented here. There map is divided into various hexeseach representing a region that may be upgraded by purchasing buildings which will each have very specific functions.
Each hexagon will be characterized by a well-defined number of stars indicating the resistance of the region to be annexed. When we achieve a crushing victory we will remove a star from the attacked region, which can be retaken if the same is not attacked in the next turn. This mechanism forces us to attack the opposing region continuously to make it capitulatemaking us experience the attrition that was typical of the conflict.
However, attacking a region head-on is ill-advised. Before breaking through enemy lines it will be important to use our spies to understand the size of opposing troops and the logistics of the region itself. This will give us a detailed picture, making us understand how useful our attack is to break through enemy lines or not.
Furthermore, by attacking and losing units unnecessarily we will invalidate the “national will“. This parameter indicates the civilian sentiment towards war; the higher it is, the more likely it is to receive fresh troops through volunteering, economic support, and any other war support. Resetting this value is one of the causes of the end of the gamealong with the loss of headquarters.
Units and malus – The Great War: Western Front review
In the operational map we will see our armies in the form of units, each characterized by subgroups called companies. We will be able to deploy four types of different units: infantry, tanks, planes e siege artillery. Each can be moved on the map to be repositioned as needed. However, in each turn the units will be able to move or attack and never take two actions at the same time. Also in case of defeat and loss of a region, some troops will retreat, while siege artillery will be completely lost.
The attack can take place from any region, but each will be able to attack only one neighboring region per turn. The units involved in the attack, once the battle is over, will be afflicted with “battle fatigue” which will decrease their morale by a precise amount; if you attack multiple times, these malus will be added together. However, once a player takes a turn, they will disappear. Then also the women will take care of influencing morale cultural differences. Playing with the allies, in fact, if we place units of different nations in the same region we will have a further malus to morale, called “disjointed command“.
Each unit will be equipped with a precise quantity of supplies, which are the most important currency in the game. Through these it will be possible to attack a region, deploy a greater amount of reinforcements (if the units of a region allow us) and, above all, create our defenses in the initial phase of the battle.
Combat Starts From Defense and Research – The Great War: Western Front Review
Important during the course of our campaign will be the search for new technologies to upgrade troops, defenses and buildings to get various bonuses. The tree is divided into six branches each characterized by several nodes. To fully unlock each branch we will need forty points; however it will be impossible to get all the searches in the tree.
The actual combat phase is divided into two phases: the first where we will have to prepare our defensive area and the second that includes the action phase. The battlefield is also divided into multiple areas; two, one for each army, where trenches, troops, artillery and balloons will be placed and a neutral area that will act as a buffer between the two formations.
Starting from the preparatory stage, we will be able to build the trenches and the various paths which will allow us to move while keeping us safe from enemy fire. There are various types of trenches, from simple ones that provide little cover, to more complex ones. We’ll have to select each item sparinglycreating a tactic that allows us to be as efficient as possible without squandering all our supplies.
Lucky for us we will find the trenches positioned in the previous battles between two regions each time they face each other again. In this way we will be able to expand or enhance them, so that we can better defend ourselves during the action phase. However artillery, defensive emplacements (such as machine guns and mortars) and balloons they will need to be repositioned each time.
A defense of steel – The Great War: Western Front review
In each trench we can shield a maximum of two unitsexcept in special cases. The first will take care of shooting the attackers, while the second will provide support in case of invasion of the trench. These units can switch positions to always provide as many rifles as possible to defend against opponents.
Attacking head on is the only way to try to break through the enemy defenses, at least in the more advanced stages when the trenches are complete. Coordinate between artillery strikes to interdict the defenders and the timing of the arrival of our soldiers in the opposing trench will not be very easy. If these maneuvers are not performed correctly, two small defending battalions will be able to annihilate entire armies when supported by a machine gun and a preemptive artillery strike.
In short, the developers managed to underline the fundamental point of what was the First World War: the difficulty of advancing between enemy lines. Conquering one of the points will sometimes be really difficult and rather than losing units without making any progress, it will be important to ask for a ceasefire orin case of defence, give up.
The battles will not be endless and the time available to us will be quite limited. Twenty minutes to try to win the three points are not many and add to this the limit of deployable troopsonly thirty of all the battalions present, and the number of supplies which will limit the entry of new troops and the support of artillery and other secondary units.
Great complexity, but little realism – Review The Great War: Western Front
Although The Great War: Western Front is a very well done game as an idea of fighting and conquering of every single point of a region, in this review, however, we cannot avoid the point out some minor flaws affecting this title.
First of all and perhaps also one of the most annoying, it concerns the artificial intelligence that governs our soldiers. In several cases it has happened to us that, instead of moving through the trenches, they came out into the openready to be annihilated by enemy troops defending the various points of interest.
It is precisely in this sense that we find the second huge problem. The models, although they seem decently made and quite faithful to the originals, have some somewhat crude movement mechanics which make you lose all the realism that the environment where the various battles take place can arouse. In fact, the various scenarios are well donewith very accurate and detailed terrain and trench models.
Honorable mention goes instead to the audio sector, capable of catapulting us back over a century. Not only are the sound effects well taken care of, but also the soundtrack is done perfectlymaking us experience what was the cultural period of the time from a musical point of view.
A long conflict
We have now reached the end of this review regarding The Great War: Western Front and it is therefore time to sum up a bit. We are facing a title that tries to reflect as closely as possible the fights of the time and in some ways it succeeds. There difficulty that …