Wargame Red Dragon Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Wargame Red Dragon Review


In recent years, there has been a serious lack of good strategy games for us to sink our teeth into. It seems as if the genre is being overlooked in spite of its rich history and pedigree, giving place to mindless shooters that simply sell more. That’s not to say that there aren’t any good strategies, of course. There’s Total War, Company of Heroes, Warhammer and many more, including the Wargame series. To say I was pleasantly surprised by this game’s complexity, depth and sheer size would be a serious understatement.

First off, it should be said that this series has garnered a cult following due to the factors I’ve mentioned above, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like it, to put it bluntly. The intricacy brought by its systems and maintained with a vast selection of units and tactics one can employ has hardly been replicated anywhere else. Red Dragon is loaded with over 1400 units spread across 17 wildly different militaries, ranging from Australia/New Zealand all the way to the Scandinavian army. Since the game is set in the time period of last century (1975 – 1991), all combatants are realistically portrayed, with authentic weaponry and vehicles. This game’s historical realism goes so far as to split the German armed forces between the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, where each army has appropriate units at their disposal.

Aside from the ability to fiddle with all the units and create decks as you please (more on that later), the game comes pre-packed with twelve single player campaigns to test both your wit and reflexes. However, Wargame Red Dragon is balanced as a multiplayer game and is best played as such. With up to twenty players fighting at the same time, no two matches are going to be the same.

Red Dragon’s main selling point over its predecessors are the naval units, and the inclusion of ground-naval-air combat in most combat situations. This hasn’t gone without a few hiccups, however, as the ships tend to get stuck on islands and fail miserably in attempts to follow the player’s orders. There’s a fair amount of balancing to be done, too, as these new water crawlers seem to be a cut below the level that the ground and air units have.

Series veterans have already been introduced to the deck system Wargame sports around, but for the newbies, here’s the rundown. Decks serve as a platfrom through which the player chooses the units, their level and activation cost to use in combat. Every player starts out with a set amount of activation points and has to choose which „card“ (unit) to play, as well as their tactics and starting position. Red Dragon introduces a sub-system to this already deep mechanic, called Coalitions. This combines multiple armies into groups and allows unfettered access to the prototypes of other forces. The caveat is that, should one use a coalition force, he/she will have less activation points to begin with. This is a clever way to balance between a more versatile but relatively poor army and a more focused but richer one.

The IRISZOOM engine that this game waves about has been upgraded once again, bringing the already great graphics of Wargame series to an all-time high. Honestly, there’s nothing quite like zooming in from the satellite level to see each and every soldier firing their weapons at the enemy – in extreme detail.

The amount of detail is astounding in other aspects of the game, too, with units requiring repairs and sporting limited amounts of ammunition and fuel. Acquiring targets is no simple task, either, as there is a number of factors being taken into account before every shot. There’s the line of sight, obviously, but there’s also terrain, weather, vehicle/ammo type, range… you name it. Of course, taking all of these elements into account can be a daunting task, especially when fighting across multiple fronts. Thus, don’t expect Red Dragon to be a child’s play. All of its awesomeness will be locked behind an impenetrable door of irritation if you’re a newbie to the series, so don’t expect winning anything for quite a while, until you catch up with all the systems Wargame is going to drown you in.

Don’t count on tutorials too much, either. We’re talking about slideshows and walls of text here, and it’s going to take a lifetime or two to completely chow them down. However, if you have no experience with the series, it’s really the only thing you can do to introduce yourself to the game. In case you were hoping to catch the strings as you play, do yourself a favour and forget about that. You’ll be overwhelmed even before kicking the skirmish up, and that’s when all hell will break loose. My point is that, this is a hardcore RTS that isn’t going to hold your hand as you play. It’s probably going to break it instead, so prepare accordingly. What you’re looking at is a prime example of an extremely hardcore game that can be both rewarding and punishing at the same time. If you love RTS games but aren’t ready to kick things up a notch, do yourself a favour and skip this one. But be aware that Red Dragon offers far more than any other similar game can.