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Eugen Systems and Focus Home Interactive are at it again, bringing gamers a very tactical real-time strategy title in their Wargame: AirLand Battle. The sequel to Wargame: European Escalation, the new game brings some welcome additions and gameplay enhancements, not to mention a slew of modern military platforms with which to wage war. Casual gamers and those folks who thought that the Command and Conquer games were difficult need to take note: Wargame AirLand Battle will, without a doubt, be the most difficult military real-time strategy title you have every played. You will lose. A lot. With that out in the open, let’s talk about the excruciatingly-fun ride that is Wargame: AirLand Battle!

A military wargamer’s dream, Wargame: AirLand Battle puts players in command of about 800 units from 12 countries. Each unit has strengths and weaknesses, which you will have to know in order to make best use of your forces. One of the big additions to Wargame: AirLand Battle is fixed wing aircraft. While helicopters were included in the original game, there were no fixed wing platforms to be found. Now, players can order up F-14 Tomcats, A-10 Warthogs, SU-25 Frogfoots and a lot more. The unit types are all-encompassing, with some designated simply to re-supply your other units, to troops, to vehicles, and more. Eugen Systems has done an excellent job of bringing variety to the game.

One interesting change that made a particular type of unit a lot more useful is with infantry. Infantry seems a lot more capable of defending an area now and, once dug in, can be a real pain to clear out. Also, helicopters feel a bit more ineffective thanks to the inclusion of fixed wing aircraft. However, do not make the mistake of leaving them behind as they are still very capable of taking out enemy units.

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The dynamic campaign map

For new players, there is a set of tutorial missions. However, even with these I felt the game became overwhelming very quickly once a skirmish actually began. You need to put in the time to learn the units and the command system in order to succeed.

The terrain is varied and far improved over its predecessor and your units will have to utilize every nook and cranny to their advantage as cover and concealment is as important as ever. This brings us to the graphical part of the review. Wargame: AirLand Battle is beautiful and, to its detriment, can be “too” good looking. I sometimes got distracted by just how detailed and pretty the area of operations is when I should have been focusing on my unit locations.

There is a very cool dynamic campaign mode which promises lots of replayability. However, it is currently a bit limited in scope due to there only being one location for it right now. The idea is very solid, however, and I can’t wait to see what Eugen Systems will do with this mode in the future. The one thing I would have liked to see in this game is a turn-based option. I have always enjoyed a good, turn-based wargame and utilizing the very beautiful world and units of Wargame: AirLand Battle would have been awesome.

Overall, Wargame: AirLand Battle is a very difficult game to get a handle on playing. Once you feel comfortable with the game, however, you will find yourself immersed in one of the most intense and realistic real-time strategy titles ever to grace your computer monitors!

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com