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World in Flames PC Game released!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on November 7, 2013

IMG_5266The game that was in the making for about 10 years is now available. World in Flames, famous monster conflict simulation on World War 2 now playable on your PC, rules enforced by the game and coming with three thick books. The price might be considered acceptable for what you get in the box depending on where you live (since you may strongly disagree on this if you are living in Europe, because the game can only be ordered as a physical copy, not as a download version. That means a lot of money for shipping and Custom then charges on top!)  BUT…at launch there’s no AI included and there’s no PbEM function!

A game like WiF will be difficult to handle anyway by an AI, but no PbEM is quite a showstopper – who’s gonna play this monster in realtime TCP/IP?

Both the AI and PbEM will be made available later we are told (AI will cost though, how much we don’t know yet) but we really think it’s the wrong decision to get the game out without such essential features.

For more information check out the official site!

World in Flames is Matrix Games’ computer version of Australian Design Group’s classic board game. Covering both the European and Pacific Theaters of Operations during World War II, World in Flames is global in scope while simulating each branch of service in detail. Land units are corps and army level, supplemented with specialized divisions. Naval units include individual counters for every carrier, battleship, cruiser, and light cruiser in the war. Using 1000+ unique bitmapped images, air units represent groups of 250 to 500 airplanes. With 6000+ unique units, 250+ countries, and a global map of 70,200 hexes, World in Flames is the premier World War II grand strategy game.

Harry Rowland, Game Designer of the original World in Flames boardgame, said: “ADG have produced some high quality games over the years but nothing compares to the top-notch components included in World in Flames: the computer game. It includes 24 full-colour maps, and 3 hard-covered books of over 600 pages, a real collector’s gem”.

Nine of the eleven scenarios from Australian Design Group’s World in Flames Final Edition are included, and they range from the small 5 turn Barbarossa offensive in Russia and the 5 turn Guadalcanal battle in the Pacific, through to the 36 turn Global War campaign which spans all of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. You can play either the Axis or the Allied side or take the role of one of the 8 major powers. Besides solitaire and head-to-head, you can play over the Internet. The last mode of play is for two players, Axis versus Allies.

In addition to the full set of rules from World in Flames, Final Edition, there are 58 optional rules. Australian Design Group’s expansion modules Ships in Flames and Planes in Flames are incorporated into the basic game, but the inclusion of other expansion modules, such as Mech in Flames, Carrier Planes in Flames, and Cruisers in Flames, depends on which optional rules are selected.

This simulation models national production from conveying raw resources to factories using rail lines and overseas pipelines for producing infantry, armor, naval, and air combat units. Because oil was so important during World War II, there are separate optional rules for synthetic oil plants and deployment of oil reserves to the front lines.

Game units represent armies and corps, aircraft carriers, naval task forces, and air groups that took part in World War II. Everything you need to re-fight the greatest conflict in history is provided in World in Flames. The players make the strategic decisions that decide the fate of nations. What forces to produce, where to commit them, when and how? No two games of World in Flames play the same, no strategy is foolproof, any decision may have unforeseen, long-term consequences.

If you want to change the world then World in Flames is for you.

 WiF_Map_Render

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Review: Homefront – home is where the fun is?

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 27, 2011

Game: Homefront

Platform: XBox 360
Publisher: THQ, 2011
Developer: Kaos Studios
ESRB: M
Genre: FPS
Setting: speculative fiction
Players: 1/32 (offline / online)


Introduction

When I consider all the games that will be published this year and especially the shooter games, then actually 2011 is a great time for fans of the Xbox 360 and for all those who still look for their holy grail of shooters. I know, because that’s my personal quest this year (to use a bit of RPG language). So many big names and so many not-so-big-names are competing for the shooter crown this year that I think the chance to find this sort of a holy grail in the genre can’t get any better. I mean, there has to be one or more real hit when you read the 2011 titles like Gears of War 3, Bulletstorm, Brink, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Section 8: Prejudice, Earth Defense Force: Armageddon, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Black Ops, Crysis 2, Halo: Reach, Medal of Honor, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine and many many more.I don’t know why 2011 is such a shooter-heavy year, but it is – and I like it.

The US under Korean occupation

So, as an Xbox 360 guy, I am prepared to play some great games this year and as a wargamer, shooters are part of my hobby and I was – and still am – really looking forward to playing some hopefully good or even outstanding shooter games.

I played CoD: Black Ops, which was extremely disappointing as a single player experience (I loved the SP campaigns of MW 1 and MW 2, but Treyarch simply can’t create convincing campaigns, the campaign in World at War wasn’t that much fun, either. This time, though, they just packed in as many enemies as possible, in as tight corridors as possible, turned off the AI completely and said ‘go, shoot everything that moves or that just stands dumb around and have… ehh… ‘fun’), but which is probably the best CoD multiplayer so far. It’s interesting that a game can be as shitty and as great all at the same time, but unfortunately if you are not an online gaming competition guy, you don’t get much for your money. Anyway, this is not about BLOPS, but the SP/MP dichotomy reminds me a bit of Homefront.

I also played Bulletstorm, which is a great game, in the SP campaign and the MP coop mode, it’s completely over the top in what it does, and it does it all damn well. It’s extremely fun to play, it’s that simple. But BS is not a game I play as a wargamer and so I was still waiting for a game that would give me a certain military setting and a bit more sim-like combat than the usual military arcade shooter fun. And so things got interesting when I first heard about Homefront.

Homefront is a game done by the folks who did Frontlines: Fuel of War, which I did not play (except for the demo). I don’t remember why that game wasn’t on my to-play-list, but when it returned to my radar, noone was playing it anymore, so it was pointless to start playing it online. That’s a general problem with online shooters (except for the really big names in the field) – if you come too late to the party, everybody else has already moved on to the next battlefield and the online area is a wasteland.

The Homefront launch was supported by a big public relations campaign or one might say propaganda machine. Ads everywhere, Microsoft made a special deal with THQ that DLC will come out for the 360 first, the developers hyped their own game over the top at any given opprtunity, they got more than one nomination and you got the impression it’s the best thing you could play on any system, new features, new setting, ‘we will make everything better than everybody else’, ‘we can compete with the Big Ones’, ‘yes, we CAN beat CoD‘, a game that will get you really into emotion and so on. They sounded really convincing and from what I could watch (all the trailers and interviews and movies and stuff) and read, everything looked actually damn fine. They had experience with online shooters as well and said they will bring 32 player together which is a rare thing on consoles (Frontlines even had 50 something on the Xbox 360) and that convinced me to preorder it. I also read the novel (which is quite enjoyable) and watched the movie Red Dawn (which is downright trash and not enjoyable), so I was prepared with a background story and ready for a great game and excited when the game eventually arrived from the UK.

This is just to tell you that I wanted to like this game, I really wanted to like it and I was open for what the developers would show me as a new emotional, immersive shooter experience. They said they wanted to establish their own universe, their own big shooter franchise with Homefront and there were even early talks about sequels and all, so after reading the novel I was prepared to be part of the Resistance and get it going… and so I put the game into my console and started the campaign. Here’s what I found in this great new shooter, fasten your seatbelt, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is going to be a helluva rough ride and a crash landing, enjoy your drinks while you can.

Story or what’s all the hype about?

Well, you may call it story or plot or whatever you like, but so far it’s a matter of fact that shooters seldom introduce you to stellar storytelling. Usually you get some short hints why you are the one killing everybody in sight over the next hours and that you have to do it, either because you are a cool guy, or you belong to a band of cool guys, or at least some cool guy has to be rescued by you, stuff like that. You listen to it, you read it, while thinking ‘jeez, stop it already and let’s go on with it, I have been playing these games for years now, it’s just shoot and don’t get shot, so let’s do this.’

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Review: Toy Soldiers – a diorama coming alive!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 14, 2010

Game: Toy Soldiers

Platform: XBox 360 Arcade
Publisher: Microsoft, 2010
Developer: Signal Studios
ESRB: T
Genre: Tower Defense, Strategy
Setting: World War I
Players: 1-2 (offline / online)



Our Rating (1-10):

 

Graphics: 9
Audio: 10
Gameplay:
9
Longevity:
8

Overall Rating: 9/10

PRO Awesome presentation (one of the best looking Arcade games ever!), impressive sound effects, cool music, strategically and tactically challenging, WWI-setting with attention to detail, 2 single player campaigns (Allied and German), multiplayer online and local split screen
CONTRA Only 5 multiplayer maps (more are added with DLC)

 

 

Introduction

A WWI diorama

I suppose every wargamer is aware of the existence of a certain subgenre within our hobby which is mainly about portraying battles with little tin or plastic soldiers in so-called dioramas. That’s sort of the adult version of the battles we all did as kids with toy soldiers in our room, where the magic of imagination changed the floor into something completely different… soldiers marching off to war, while we were the commander. I really like to look at dioramas and I love the dedication these guys put into their hobby –  it’s a really time-consuming hobby and quite expensive. You have to buy the figures, paint them, arrange them, create terrain (even explosions!), you need some big table (or better an entire room) to show the beauty of it all and it’s simply not for everyone. Usually a diorama is not intended for actually playing out the battle, it’s more like a picture taken in 3D showing a certain  moment of the battle in question, a detailed study of uniforms and terrain, but not a wargame.  You can play with such figures, of course, in tabletop games – which could be called a “diorama in action”.

Toy Commander on Sega Dreamcast

Back in the good old days of the Sega Dreamcast console, there was a great game called Toy Commander which allowed the player to be a kid again, playing with little soldiers and toy vehicles, cars, tanks, fighter planes, helicopters. There was a complete house at your free disposal where these battles were fought while it was supposed that everything within the game was controlled by a young boy and his imagination. The introduction of the game did a great job in showing  how the imagination of a child can make everything real so there’s the moment when the boy fades away holding the aircraft and there’s only the plane flying around then… check out the intro movie to see what I mean.But this review isn’t about Toy Commander, is it? No, it’s not – but that was the immediate reminiscence I had when I first played Toy Soldiers on the XBox 360.

The game takes place in a room where a table with a World War I diorama stands. You see a battlefield, little soldiers, a toy box and all the stuff a kid needs to fight out great battles. I don’t like Real Time Strategy games very much, they are too confusing for my taste, everything happens at once, you’re constantly looking for your units which are always running around where they should not be, while you are suffering from supply problems and are forced to build and protect a base which is in turn attacked almost immediately by the enemy, while it is expected that you destroy the enemy’s base… very stressful. Strategy-wise I enjoy turn-based games much more. RTS is more about clicking faster than your opponent while turn-based games are more about the strategy,  about thinking and decision-making, at least that is what I think.

The WWI diorama in your room

When I first read something about Toy Soldiers I was quite thrilled because it sounded so much like my old favorite Toy Commander – just in a World War I setting, but then after trying out the multiplayer demo on the Xbox 360, it seemed to be just another RTS style game. So after playing a few matches against Denny, the game disappeared from my radar. Interestingly in the meanwhile I got somehow hooked on a specific sub-genre of RTS games – Tower Defense – after playing Monday Night Combat on XBox Live Arcade which is a mix of Tower Defense and Third Person Shooter (it’s also a mix of these genres with gladiator sports and strategy – a weird mix for sure, but a highly strategic game and entertaining game and I wholeheartedly recommend it!).

Monday Night Combat inspired me to look for other good Tower Defense games  and that was when I came across Toy Soldiers again – which was  coincidentally “Deal of the Week” on XBox Live Arcade then where it dropped from 1200 Microsoft Points down to 800 points, so I decided to get the full game and try it out again in the Single Player.

What is it about?

You always have a good overview over your battlefield

What I got was probably one of the most fun games I ever played – and I speak as a wargamer here! As I previously mentioned, the game is about WWI and you can play through an Allied and a German campaign taking place on some famous battlefields like Langemarck, Verdun, and several other places. The campaign consists of 12 single missions which take place in a diorama standing in the virtual room and the soldiers are made of plastic. But what starts as a game with plastic soldiers actually turns out to be a rather brutal and realistic portrayal of the nasty battles known from WWI. There’s no blood – plastic soldiers don’t bleed – but everything else is done so realistically that you soon forget that you are playing with plastic soldiers in a diorama  – and that’s the beauty of this game!

When you start a mission, the camera will first show part of the room and the diorama and then it zooms into the battlefield, so the player is on the ground, actually within the diorama. When the battle starts with all the little soldiers running over open terrain mowed down by your troops manning their plastic machine guns, you yourself sitting in the sniper tower shooting from afar, soldiers dying and screaming because of chemical weapons and flamethrowers or being squelched by tanks while bombs are falling from the sky and the arty is screaming, shells coming in over your head… you simply forget it’s a virtual diorama and plastic and you get immersed in some really intense war action.

There’s a considerable lack of WWI video games with so many games concentrating on WWII, so Toy Soldiers actually fills a gap and luckily it is a good strategy game as well. When you are a wargamer and you have a 360, then read on why this is the game for you!

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HFC OFP: Elite SP Missions

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 26, 2010

Instructions:

Download the mission files to your computer; don’t unzip them but simply drag-and-drop them to your Action Replay memory card. Copy them to your Xbox console, start the game and create the identity “HFC” (without the quotation marks). All our missions can be played with this profile. Our suggestion is to play the missions on the “Veteran” difficulty level.

In addition, download the Mission Briefings to your computer. They are  PDF files and should pe printed out or at least read before playing a scenario because they give valuable background and intelligence information about the missions. This will not only greatly enhance your gaming experience but will make sure that you actually can play the missions since the information is necessary to play them, so don’t start playing without reading the briefings first!

Feedback on the missions is very welcome so post your comments and suggestions and tell us your experience with these missions!

You can also find reviews of HFC missions at the Missions Depot of the OFP Editing Center, so check ’em out:


HFC Mini Campaign #1 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # Debates Are Over Now! In this early stages of the conflict, roused by russian territorial claims on an island group, politicians try to avoid a war by negotiations. But in fact war has already begun…
HFC_SP_1a Deadly Shadows A NATO commando conducts a “black operation”, disguised as resistance forces, to sabotage Russian SCUD launchers. Dec/3/1980 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_1b Stand Fast! The Russians take revenge and attack a resistance fort which they believe to be responsible for the sabotage act. Jan/10/1981 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Mini Campaign #2 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # A House Divided The Russian invasion is progressing. Still, Nogova island is “a house divided”, because neither side has managed to get control over the entire island yet.
HFC_SP_2a No Bridge Too Far The Russians try to cross a bridge which connects the Western NATO control sector with the Eastern control sector. Aug/10/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2b Island Blockade NATO managed to capture a small island north of the Nogova Main Island and started building a base. Russian units try to stop them from fortifying this base and simultaneously, to free a small village under Russian siege. Aug/10/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2c It’s Raining Men Russians managed to control large parts of Western Nogova, but rumours speak about a planned NATO counterattack in order to re-capture a town of strategical importance to both sides… May/10/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2d Eagle’s Day NATO is planning an air strike on the Russian base now erected on the small Northern island. May/11/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Mini Campaign #3 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # Revolt Against Piece 4 years have passed since the Russians invaded the islands. The islands are now under communist government and civilian life returned to normal. Merely some local resistance groups who call themselves the “Freedom Alliance” still oppose to the new government.
HFC_SP_3a Watching Wings A Russian commander on Everon asks HQ for fuel and supply trucks. Escort the convoy through quiet and peaceful Everon… Aug/6/1984 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_3b Take’em By Surprise Russian Intelligence suspects Freedom Alliance hideouts on a small isle north of Kolgujev and they send in Spetznaz special forces to deal with the suspected leaders and NATO military trainers who hide there… Oct/8/1984 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Battle Study #1 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission # Cassino Battle Study A rocky cliff with a ruin on top serves as a fortified Russian base on Nogova. Nobody knows that NATO decided to take back the island… this battle study allows you to experience this combat from 3 different perspectives!
HFC_SP_4a Little Mt. Cassino Russian units are doing a routine job on the rocky hill, expecting their 5-day leave in a few days… Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_4b Cassino Assault Resistance infantry on their way to re-take the hill, supported by resistance air units and NATO armor! Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_4c Bombing Raid on Mt. Cassino Resistance can offer nothing but some old biplanes, but these can still do a lot of damage… Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Single Missions Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC_SP_5a One Shot Kill A high-ranking Russian general is expected to join a conference on Nogova – a perfect opportunity for NATO to eliminate him in a “black operation” done by a lone commando… May/3/1986 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_6a Lazy Evening Pilots of a Russian helicopter squad are enjoying their lazy routine job on an airfield somewhere in a quiet region of Malden… until they get a message from HQ… July/9/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)

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OFP: Elite Custom Missions

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 26, 2010

Check out our Single Player Missions!

In this section we present HFC missions for Operation Flashpoint: Elite (XBox), created with the mission editor.

Our scenarios are extensively playtested and optimized and in addition, each mission is explained in detail in a HFC mission briefing file (PDF). Scenario files can be downloaded with Action Replay (AR) directly from the HFC server.

Make sure to download the appropriate mission briefings as well and read them before playing a scenario!


<<<—- If you played one of our missions, leave us feedback in the comments section!


General information about our mission design

There are two different sorts of HFC missions:

– Single Player Missions
– Multi Player Missions (none published yet; feel free to make your own missions and send them to us!)

There are three models of HFC missions:

– Single Mission
– Mini Campaign
– Battle Study

Each mission – Single Player or Multiplayer – belongs to one of three categories:

  • Single Missions deal with a single topic and once you complete the mission, this mission is over. A single mission isn’t connected to other missions; it’s a standalone mission that deals with a specific objective.
  • Mini Campaigns are missions which belong to each other because they tell an overall story. Since the Xbox Mission Editor doesn’t allow to create real campaigns (as the PC editor does), we are trying to tell a longer story by connecting a number of single missions. By playing them in the designated order, you actually have the feeling of being part of a larger battle where more happens than just what you experience in one single mission alone.
  • Battle Studies are two or more missions that describe the same battle situation. Each mission belonging to a Battle Study has the same outline, the same units, the same objectives, the same date and weather etc.., but allows you to see the battle from different perspectives. For example, you may play e.g. the „Cassino Battle Study“. Here the story deals with a Resistance attack against a rocky hill the Russians are using as a lookout tower. This Battle Study consists of three missions and all of them are identical thematically – except that in one mission, you are part of the Russian defense on the rock, trying to hold the position against Camels from above and an infantry assault from the base of the hill; in the next mission you are one of the soldiers trying to capture the rock and take out the Russians and in the last one , you are a Sopwith Camel Squadron Leader who tries to help his fellows assaulting the rock below him by bombing the Russian defense positions.

Click to check out our Single Player missions!

You are cordially invited to send us your own OFP:Elite custom missions (by email); they are already zipped and can be mailed as an email attachment.

Please include a mission briefing, following our guidelines pointed out in this article.


Recommended reading: Missions, briefings, and how to tell a story, our HFC mission article with some notes, background information and explanations

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Missions, Briefings and how to tell a story

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 20, 2010

The story of Operation Flashpoint: Elite is the same as in the original OFP game for the PC . It deals with a major crisis in the Soviet Union where politicians don’t agree with Michael Gorbatschovs „Perestroika“ philosophy. This overall situation is responsible for Moscow losing control over her military forces located near a group of islands and these forces (or rather their leaders) are supposed to be in touch with those in the Kreml who try to stop Perestroika and who want to take over the power from Gorbatschov. These soldiers are commanded by a General Guba and they are not portrayed like normal Russian units but more like a band of terrorists using strong military equipment and killing civilians in order to break their will. General Guba is actually preparing for an atomic strike against the West and so the story is about stopping this madman and his forces.

So, Operation Flashpoint is part of the hypothetical milsims because its story is about NATO vs. Russian units and the story is actually an interesting one, although it’s not the typical NATO vs. Warsaw Pact story told by other hypothetical wargames, since the islands are fictional.

Custom missions on XBox

After playing through the Cold War Crisis Campaign of OFP: Elite we started designing our own missions using the great mission editor included in this game, but we decided that these missions shouldn’t be unrelated to any storyline. The story told in the Cold War Crisis Campaign and the Resistance Campaign (these are the two big campaigns which are part of the game – Red Hammer campaign was not included in the Xbox version, alas) is about the above mentioned Russian units not obeying to Moscow anymore and acting on their own. Since the game allows total freedom in designing custom missions, we also wanted to tell a story with our self-made missions and therefore we portrayed a situation closer to regular hypothetical NATO vs. WP scenarios.

The mission editor allows dates from 1980 until 1989 and so we have 9 years as a timeline for a story which is told by custom missions and mission briefings. The background story is an attack of regular WP forces on NATO protected islands „somewhere“ (since the islands are fictional there’s no need to locate them in a certain region – we consider them to be located near a WP influence zone in the “real world”) as the start for a war which was believed to be actually possible for many years.

So there’s no role for General Guba as the leader of some disobeying forces, but this General is part of a story in which he is obeying orders directly from Moscow and the Russians are considered regular troops, convinced  by their propaganda that they are liberating people enslaved by capitalist forces. NATO, on the other hand, is responding to this attack according to their own principles and ideology.

Yes, it IS possible to transfer a complex command system to the XBox controller

We started to tell this story with some missions which are available for download here on our website. Generally, our missions belong to  one of three models: Single Missions, Mini Campaigns and Battle Studies (see explanation here).

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