The real-time strategy game Men of War: Assault Squad 2014, which was released in 2, was expanded on September 12th to include a standalone add-on with the addition of “Cold War”. As you can already see from the name, this setting is no longer about the Second World War, but about the Cold War between NATO and the Soviet Union. But what do you get for the game that costs just under 20 euros? After our video game editor Kay has been on the front lines, you will find out all that and more in our review of Men of War: Assault Squad 2 - Cold War below.


Campaign without story and without tutorial

Since I never played the previous games myself, I was sorry to see that there was no tutorial. Well, then the campaign will be played and it will certainly explain the game to me a little - no result. After about three hours of playing time and trying out all sorts of things myself and restarting matches, I knew the most important mechanics, so it's not too complicated to teach yourself, but let's get back to the campaign for now.

The campaign can be contested on the side of the USA or the Soviet Union, the USA being representative of all NATO countries. Just set the level of difficulty, resource availability and duration of the campaign and off you go. Wait, the duration of the campaign? Yes, unfortunately the campaign has no story, it only consists of individual games that you play against the AI ​​and depending on whether you win or lose you win or lose progress on the overall map. The “campaign map” has no function at all and only serves as an indicator of how far the enemy has already been pushed back or has been pushed back.

The maps are quite detailed, just not particularly pretty. Image: 1C Publishing

The maps are quite detailed, just not particularly pretty. Image: 1C Publishing

Before each match you buy the required force with your resources and gradually unlock new units. The game offers everything you would imagine as a unit on a Cold War battlefield. From common infantry to anti-tank infantry, snipers, transport trucks, armored personnel carriers, tanks and helicopters, everything is there that you can imagine. If you end a fight, you can replenish the remaining troops and buy new ones, after which you can start the next battle straight away.

After about three hours (including finding out how the game works) I finished a short campaign against a medium AI opponent, after which you can switch to an endless campaign or start over. The battles against the AI ​​were demanding for me as a beginner and I had no chance at higher levels of difficulty, so the levels of difficulty are well balanced.

Tactical skirmishes instead of epic battles

Anyone looking for big battles like the Total War games is out of place here. The game focuses more on smaller battles, in which every single soldier is important and can make the difference. Would you like an example? I took a base with about 20 soldiers and a tank. After I had protected my warriors well behind various cover options such as sandbags, walls, holes in the ground or vehicle wrecks, the tank was quickly sent to the next front. Of course there was a strong counterattack less than two minutes later, including, to my regret, an enemy tank. After an exciting battle, both the enemy infantry and mine were at the end, only a single soldier on my side with a rocket launcher had made it to a safe house in time. This was able to destroy the badly battered tank and hold the position until reinforcements arrived - phew, that was close.

A must-have in a real-time strategy game: thick tanks. Image: 1C Publishing

A must-have in a real-time strategy game: thick tanks. Image: 1C Publishing

And it is precisely this small dimension that makes the game so appealing. It even goes so far that every soldier has his own inventory, where you can exchange individual items of equipment and these soldiers even have names. You can and must - in order to be successful - think carefully about where to position your men. Would you rather dig in a rifleman? Or would you rather be in a house? This can be of crucial importance, as houses can also collapse in an explosion, for example. Another unusual feature for this genre is that you have the option directly to aim. This means that you control your soldier or tank like in a classic 2D role-playing game and can, for example, shoot directly at the tower of the opposing tank to make it unfit for combat. I have used this feature quite often, as it helps a lot to implement things that my AI-controlled unit would not necessarily do.

Lucky: The impact went just wrong, the tank crew is happy. Image: 1C Publishing

Lucky: The impact went just wrong, the tank crew is happy. Image: 1C Publishing

In multiplayer games, the system looks a little different than in the campaign. There you start the current game with a starting budget and buy your first troop from it. Then you gradually earn more money and you can always use the money to order reinforcements. Here, too, the victory conditions are set before the start and then it starts. There is no matchmaking system or similar in the game. You look in the server browser and join an open game - old-fashioned. The problem with the thing with the multiplayer, mostly only around 100 players were online and a large part of the open servers were private games. I waited a good hour until I found my first online match! So if you want to play online more often, you should look around here in forums or other community areas.

Graphic from 2014: Not bad, but much better

The graphics are really nice for being from 2014 and not developed by an AAA studio. Explosion effects, muzzle flashes and animations have of course been seen better, but also much worse.

It smokes and smokes - but everything as in 2014. Photo 1C Publishing

It smokes and smokes - but everything as in 2014. Photo 1C Publishing

Particularly the details such as traces of vehicles on muddy ground or in the snow look chic. But damage is also nice to look at when a crew member climbs out of his tank to reattach the broken chain and then quickly scurries back into the tank while the bullets fly around his ears. There are also varied maps such as urban scenes with narrow streets, many houses that are partly intact, partly destroyed, rather extensive landscapes with and without snow, ruins, so actually everything you can imagine in a Central or Eastern European region.

Men of War: Assault Squad 2 - Cold War media

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi2lruQqAJs?rel=0]

Infobox

Number of players: solo mode and multiplayer
Age: USK not available
Playing time: 50+ hours of play
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: 1C Publishing
Developer: Digitalmindsoft
Year of publication: 2019 
Platforms: PC (Steam)
Language: German
Cost: 21,99 Euro

Summary

I'm very divided on this game. On the one hand, the battles offer me great tactical depth due to their many subtleties such as the cover system, direct aiming, various armaments including ammunition types and equipment of the soldiers and allow me to try out a lot. Especially against human players and stronger AI, you have your hands full on several fronts.

However, if you are hoping for an extensive strategy game à la Company of Heroes 2 or something similar, you will still be disappointed, the complete scope of the game simply does not motivate you long enough. The graphics from 2014 still look passable and I can't say that I didn't have any fun with the game, but there remains a bitter aftertaste about some missing features such as the tutorial, a "real" campaign or tool tips that show me how Panzer X differs from Panzer Y.

I would recommend Men of War: Assault Squad 2 - Cold War to buy. If you have a couple of friends with whom you want to fight a few quick, cool staged battles, I would hardly recommend it, where almost 20 euros is a lot of money for the small size of the game. Perhaps it is worth waiting here until the next Steam sale, it will probably quickly become a few euros cheaper.