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» True War Review


Let me cough this out my system first. I love this mod. In my year of downloading unofficial expansions for Red Alert 2, nothing has drawn me in so completely. This is "True War"; and after playing it for a few hours, you will find it difficult to go back to the now "Cartoony" world of the original game. Based on a Present Day war between Russia and the USA, there is no official storyline, although I have no doubt Tom Clancy could explain it all.

The emphasis of "True War" is on Reality. Infantry are invisible to Radar, Tanks fire longer when on high ground, and Aircraft are susceptible to SAMs. With this however come some fatal problems, most obvious being that Red Alert 2 players tend to "Build and attack", repeating this cycle over and over until they defeat the enemy.

Take my first game of "True War", I built around fifteen M1 Main Battle Tanks and tried to attack the enemy. Within a minute I was running with tail between my legs as my tanks suffered horrendous losses to Anti Tank Infantry units, Entrenched Enemy Artillery and Hind Attack Helicopters. After I few attempts I realised to win in True War, you need a diverse assault force. Simply sending tanks won't work. Sending Tanks flanked by infantry with Stingers, Armoured Cars and guarded overhead by Apache Gunships is another matter however.

The menus in True War are completely redesigned, and suit the "feel" of the mod very well. While selecting your map, expect to see cycled images of Tanks, Aircraft, Helicopters, all images of units you can control in game. Loading screens are also redesigned, and the install done via the XCC Mod Launcher; these give the mod an all over polished feel right from the outset.

None of the original units remain from Red Alert 2; indeed the entire structure of the armies involved has been radically altered. These armies are based on reality almost to the degree where it is sickening. Do you want an M1-A1 or an M1-A2 tank? Do you want the X582-AT gunner, or the F112-AT gunner? Some of the differences are miniscule, and really, unnecessary. The Armies however are beautifully modelled, and this is perhaps the strongest aspect of the game.

The Icons for all of the units have been produced very professionally also, again, none of the original icons remaining. One bad point of these icons however, is that they are not labelled with the unit they represent. This causes all sorts of problems to new players, and even as a seasoned player myself; even I can struggle to figure out which picture represents what. Rumours flying about on the "True War" Message Board indicate this may be resolved with the next release"

Ore is no more in "True War"; instead you have to build "Supply Depots", effectively Oil Derricks, which periodically bring in cash. The more supply depots you have, the more cash you have, and often you can end up with four or five of these funding your war effort. Be careful however, as they, like all buildings in "True War", don't take a lot of punishment.

The structures in "True War" is where for me the mod falls down. In every other aspect this is a Total Conversion; so why is the "Vehicle Supply Airstrip" the same as the War Factory? Why is the "Phased Radar Array" the same as the Spy Sat Uplink? Buildings such as the Barracks and Power Plants have been replaced with groups of Tents, which actually fit in very well. The "Sore Thumbs" of the other buildings leave a dent on this.

Ingenuity however, has been shown in climbing the tech ladder. No more Battle Labs, now you must build a "Command Vehicle" from your War Factory before being allowed the more powerful units. The "Command Vehicle" being based on a unit from Reality of course. I can only hope that in future releases the old structures will be replaced. (Later patches may resolve this)

The other poorly executed aspect is the infantry - While being reduced and cloaked to Radar may have seemed a good idea at the time, it makes infantry too awkward to use in offensive positions. A few AT or SAM soldiers are easy to handle at this size, but an army of Snipers or Rifle Infantry are not. The infantry also only use the original SHP's from the original game. This takes already hard to use infantry, and gives you problems distinguishing between the types. For example, A Light Machine Gunner has the same looks as a Speznatz commando. This really is a pity - "True War" - Recruit an SHP artist now!

A Veteran of the "Rainbow Six" series of games like me recognised the Unit voices almost instantly. Other sounds were, I believe, provided from Delta Force. Beside the illegality, these sounds do add another positive attribute to "True War". While a Patriot missile battery saying "Tangos in sight" once or twice, I found the new sounds to be very impressive.

The AI of True War is superb, while on "Green" (Novice), the computer's attacks are easily repulsed, but on "Veteran" (Brutal), the mixed assualts the computer sends can be deadly. One disappointing thing about the AI however, is it never builds defensive units, instead always concentrating on attacks. This tints the otherwise top notch enemies.

True War is the mod that could have been so much, but somehow failed to more than the sum of it's parts. There is so much and yet not quite enough. For me however, the poor use of infantry nailed in the coffin. Don't get me wrong, this is a fine mod, but a few too many niggles in it stop it from being a great mod. With updates hopefully these things can be resolved, and "True War" can takes it's rightful place with the greats.

Overall: 80%

Jim

Related Links:
» True War Website
» Mod Reviews Index

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