Will Of Steel
Leaving aside the War on Terror propaganda that Will Of Steel seems happy to perpetuate, there's only one fundamental difference between this and Command and conquer: Generals or Act Of War, and that's the voice-operated command system. Coming with a cheap free' headset, the game enables you to control your units by barking orders at them. Sounds very cool, but in reality the process is over-complicated, unreliable and, as a consequence, unnecessary.
Good news then that voice control can be deactivated. Away from the gimmick and onto the game itself, you'll be similarly underwhelmed. The graphics look pretty good - the deserts being suitably sandy and the units models all feature impressive details - but the gameplay is suspect to say the least. Soldiers often get stuck at the edges of the map, vehicles seem to have a mind of their own, whilst en masse, units seem to overrun where you tell them to go. In terms of pathfinding, we're hard-pressed to name a game as inept as this. Tactically, you're hindered further by there being seemingly navigable areas of the map cut off from infantry units.
It's all very well having a game that does away with resource management, but as a pay-off we'd like greater control of our units rather than less. While the game boasts an impressive array of hardware, you're sadly only allowed to play as the forces of the right and just' in a linear two-pronged campaign that starts with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and finishes in Iraq. No skirmish or multiplayer options are available either, but you do get a headset - which would arguably last longer anyway...
Download Will Of Steel
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
George W Bush may well be a bit of a comedy president, but at least his alarming use of the world as his own personal game of Risk has provided games developers with plenty of new source material to base their games on. Will Of Steel is the latest effort intended to give you a taste of the war-on-terror from the comfort of your bedroom.
Specifically, the single-player campaign is split between the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the early stages of the current Iraq war. You follow the antics of a certain William Steel (geddit?) of the United States Marine Corps, the son of decorated general Thomas Steel. As well as being thankful that his father didn't name him Dick, William's duties are to kick some terrorist proverbial over the course of around 16 missions. This all paves the way for some frantic RTS action, with the focus on shifting your units around, as there's no resource collecting or base-building to be found here. Among the 100 or so units are all the usual suspects, such as Cayuse helicopters and a cornucopia of tanks and armoured vehicles, as well as some more specialised units. The latter include medics ready to slap a band-aid onto the knees of your wounded soldiers, and some multi-talented engineer units who, as well being able to fix up your vehicles, can perform a wealth of useful tasks such as detecting and diffusing mines, capturing enemy vehicles and placing explosive charges.
You're also promised a system whereby you're awarded promotions depending upon your performance. Do the job like a pro, and the promotions you're given will unlock special abilities to use in later missions. These include passive abilities such as satellite reconnaissance and, of course, some good old-fashioned fiery death from above, courtesy of artillery support and air strikes.
What developer Gameyus is really hoping will set its desert combat apart from the rest is the addition of voice recognition. With the aid of the microphone that's planned to be bundled with the game, the idea is to bark out various orders to select and control your units. We have to admit to not being fully sold on this idea at the moment though, as when it was demonstrated to us at a preview event, the early code had considerable difficulty in recognising many commands. We're also less than convinced about the usefulness of speaking a command, waiting a few seconds for it to display, then tapping a key to confirm while in the heat of battle. Of course, the final code may yet prove us wrong.
Voice recognition aside, the technical aspects seem to be shaping up quite nicely. Built around a proprietary 3D engine, the preview code we've played is up to spec aesthetically. We were also pleased to see that the enemy Al had a few tricks up its sleeve, such as outnumbered units adopting hit-and-run tactics. Indeed, it's the success of these aspects of the game rather than the voice recognition that's set to ultimately determine how Will Of Steel measures up to the competition. We'll bring you the definitive verdict next month.