We are in 1918 and the Great War is coming to an end. The Germans entrenched and American troops began supporting the Allies on the Western Front. It is from this moment that the training mode begins and I see myself thrown into a Europe on fire and tired of the war. Starting backwards is an exciting storytelling technique. You are quickly introduced to the full range of vehicles, technologies, and more. in the experience, because when you start a new campaign you can of course choose to start from 1914 or 1916, but there are still a lot of things locked. The practice mode allowed me to quickly grasp all the elements of this medium-difficult strategy game.
You have a campaign mode with text events, city improvement, purchase of materials and cannons. In this mode, quite reminiscent of Total War, you make big decisions that have consequences in battles; which trenches on the western front need to be reinforced; which ones need to be improved; what technology should be unlocked and where your resources should be transported. Campaigning is basically how you balance money spending and resource availability. This is also where the rules of the game are specified. Your objective is to destroy your enemy’s will to fight through direct battles, smart decisions and inflicting casualties on the enemy using your resources and strategic cunning.
Once you personally arrive at a battle, all types of troops, vehicles, and anything else you sent are brought into that sandbox. You can then use your resources to build and upgrade trenches, deploy soldiers and artillery, and more. Using your limited resources, you will be forced to adopt the role of attacker or defender. Each side can change their strategy at any time, and the real star of this strategy game isn’t the somewhat dated graphics or the unimpressive cutscenes, but rather the planning phase where you can lay out your trenches, lay barbed wire , hawthorn, machine gun nests and build a defensive line.
You can also use sappers to blow up the opponent’s defensive line during battle. With the help of new technologies like machine guns, gas, airplanes, hot air balloons and the like, the soldiers eventually drop like flies. The game will even record the damage you inflict on environments, the layout of the trenches in that particular hex, etc. for the next battle. This means that maps with vegetation, houses, and life dynamically become no man’s land throughout the campaign. I love this particular mechanic and hope more developers use it, because in this particular case it’s also a nasty reminder of the terrible tragedy of the Great War.
Periodically, it may appear that thousands of soldiers die in combat, and that’s because they are. The Great War: Western Front puts this kind of meat grinder conflict into perspective, and while the focus is only on a small part of the Western Front and not the entire war, it’s a grueling pastime for for better and for worse. . Battles come and go, testing your will to keep sending soldiers to death. It’s easy to hit the rolling artillery, sending waves of men across no man’s land to the sound of whistles, before silence falls after enemy machine gun fire has cut them down. Like you, the opponent will try to reinforce their positions and attack you. It’s a war of meters, not kilometers. Every square you take often means the enemy takes another, and when you regain lost ground, there’s a good chance the enemy will too.
During the first hours of the campaign, battles will often consist of stalemate skirmishes, minor victories, and occasionally major victories. Even if you take one or both control points from the enemy side, it doesn’t mean you win the whole war. It is during battles that the only diplomacy in the game comes into play. When you find that you have slowed down the enemy, or inflicted a minor loss on them, you can call for a ceasefire. You can also withdraw your forces and admit defeat. It may cost you a bit in the short term, but you can save thousands of men to fight another day.
Knowing when to call a ceasefire and when to throw away everything you have, including valuable resources that can be used in another conflict, is key to success. If you spend all your materials during battles and you don’t have money to buy more on the campaign map, you will not be able to attack the opponent on another part of the front. I think the computer slows the player down reasonably, because even though he cheats, it worked well for the time I spent with the campaign. That’s not exactly praise, because I want to believe that AI opponents can get smarter, if there’s a will in the industry.
As for the sound, the game is more than correct. Instead, the graphics look a bit dated. I suspect the scaling of all effects is a contributing factor, but the graphics could have benefited from a bit more detail and care to meet the standards of today’s strategy games. 2D animations don’t impress. I understand 3D footage isn’t cheap, but at the same time detailed footage adds to the overall atmosphere and experience.
Despite the graphics, it looks like a competent and well-thought-out game. We rarely get good WWI strategy titles from experienced developers, although in recent years there have been more WWI titles in other genres. Petroglyph Games does not like game development and it shows clearly. Hopefully Petroglyph gets the chance to recreate the Eastern Front and possibly the entire war in the future, as adding new nations to the conflict over the years of the campaign would greatly benefit its variety. It would also be interesting to be able to fight a two-front war with Germany, playing with Italy changing alliances, the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It’s a game that tries to make the western front interesting with new premises. I see the passion that pervades the project despite a number of flaws, and it also shows that the game doesn’t really have the budget it needs. Multiplayer doesn’t have a campaign mode, and battles alone probably won’t be entertaining forever. The campaign against the computer and the historic skirmishes that come with the package are by far the highlight here.
At the moment, nothing beats The Great War: Western Front and it’s probably the best modern take on trench warfare on the market. I’ve had enough fun with the game’s different systems to say it’s a great experience; however, he has his flaws, which prevent him from achieving perfection.