Ironclads 2: War of the Pacific is not a good game. Usually I like to come up with some nice little introduction to a game or the theme to link the article together but this game has really annoyed me. Now, I’m fully aware that naval combat is not the one for me, and I’m also aware that games this complicated aren’t usually great for someone as knowledge less as I am, but this game is overly complicated, slow and tiresome. But don’t worry game fans, because I’m here to tell you why to avoid this game.
Let’s start with the theme. Hands up everyone who is highly interested in the naval conflict between Chile and Peru in the late 19th Century. Anyone? Nope, okay then. While that may be a bit far and I’m sure the conflict interests a tiny minority there is really no other conflict I care as little about. The war was caused by a number of complicated diplomatic and economic reasons (I read the Wikipedia article on it and even as a political science student I’m bored by it all) and while that’s tedious there is little to set the scene outside of one text box at the start of the game. The box is also the same whichever side you’re on which is baffling! If you’re going to choose such a specific event the least you could do is tell us about it. This poor use of an extremely niche theme already sets the game up as a bad game.
Now, I thought, maybe the game is mechanically very in depth (naval pun, you’re welcome) and maybe it’ll win me over. As you can probably tell by my overall reaction the game did not deliver in the gameplay department either. Firstly, the game has no tutorial that I could find at all. The game drops you in and expects you to sort yourself out. In modern gaming with such a complicated game this is already appalling. It took me quite some time to figure out what I was meant to be doing and even now I can’t really be sure what’s going on. Sometimes I move ships, sometimes they don’t move, but nothing really occurs until I press the end turn button. Then in about 25% of cases the game crashes. Yay, a game that doesn’t even work properly all the time! But I reload and persevere, I want to see some ships crash into each other. This brings us onto the meat of the game, the combat system.
Now the combat is probably the best area of the game. You’re dropped in to a view over your fleet and have an array of buttons to use to control your ships speeds and attack tactics. For what it’s worth this part of the game worked for me almost the entire time but there were so many issues I could barely survive through a few battles. First of all the tool tips for the task bar are ugly as anything. This, coupled with the very basic and somewhat unattractive graphics of the game overall make it hard to really enjoy the level of detail on the ships. These graphical faults are only beaten by the music and sounds that actually made me tear off my headset. The ship noises and repetitive loading music gave me a headache which is so rare for me in gaming. If you can look past these issues, and the fact the games combat is so slow paced it takes an age to do anything, there may be something here for you. But for me I was at a loss.
There are a few more issues I have with the game overall. The loading times on my machine seemed fairly long and as it’s a newer custom build I’d expect a game such as this to be faster at loading in. The game also lacked some very basic functionality, such as having a hotkey to take you to the menu screen in game or allowing you to go to said menu while combat is auto resolved. The options menu also suffers from the same ugliness condition the tool tips do, although that is just a minor gripe with the game. A drop in the ocean if you will.
Overall, Ironclads 2 may be one of my least favourite games of the year. The game is a complicated mess of poor music and sounds coupled with no tutorial and a total lack of the luxuries I’ve come to expect from games today. While there may be something for a die hard naval war gamer (and again I admit I am not the target demographic for this game) from a purely gaming perspective I’d give this game a wide birth.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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