Condemned Heroes is the latest stand-alone expansion to the brutally challenging Men of War real-time strategy game series. It has been developed by 1C Company, who are a leading publisher, developer and distributor of games in Russia, Eastern and Central Europe. Their portfolio includes games like Red Orchestra 2.
Condemned Heroes tells the story of one of the infamous Soviet penal battalions during WWII.
These battalions are famous for being formed under Stalin’s “No step back!” order #227. They consisted of court-martialed officers that were given a chance to redeem their crimes, or incompetence, in blood by serving as the lowest enlisted rank in a battalion that was assigned the most dangerous tasks. These battalions’ images are surrounded by many myths, and this game tells the truth about these regiments based on real evidence from their former members.
Your task is to take command of one of these notorious companies and lead it to victory against all odds through most of the war on the Eastern front. As you begin the first mission, you quickly come to realise there is no tutorial at all. You are instantly plunged into a battle and unless you have played the other Men of War games in the series, you will spend ages battling just to beat the very first mission. It took me about an hour just to get past the very first five minutes of gameplay. If I had played the series before I am sure I would have found it easier. The game itself looks OK, but is nothing fancy. It looks very grainy and washed out. The sound effects are not too bad. The noise of gunfire and grenades going off all help build that feeling of imminent death.
The controls at first were fiddly and it took me a good while to work out how to do a simple thing like lie down. As you can imagine, this is required a lot or you will have your head blown off pretty quickly. As you progress through the different missions, you get to control tanks and all the other usual tools of the trade. There are twenty missions in total to beat the game. The game does a pretty good job of showing you that the men were put in this position as cannon fodder. It must have been really awful to be part of this corner of the world war.
As you play, you soon realise that strategy is key. If you stand any chance of beating this game you need to take things slowly, and you will need a lot of patience, as even after you have mastered the controls you will find your men being picked of one by one very fast. The larger missions take a lot of hard work. At first you will be driven nuts by the difficulty level. However, when you manage to beat a mission, you get a huge sense of satisfaction that drives you to play that next mission. Condemned Heroes also has a multiplayer option where you can pit your skills against other players.
So the question is should you buy Men of War or not? Well, if you like strategy games then the answer is mixed. If you are someone that likes war strategy games, then the answer would be maybe. The main thing is the difficulty level, as MoW takes a lot more work than other strategy games. If you love a challenge though, then this may be the game for you. The game does have a lot of detail, and I can see that a lot of effort has been put in to the missions themselves.
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