This Means War! is a rarely known beer-and-pretzel isometric strategy game from MicroProse, released in 1996 for Windows 3.1. With a focus on light-hearted action and a sense of humor, the game plays like a distant cousin of New World Computing's classic Nuclear War, but many design flaws and AI quirks unfortunately makes it much less fun than that classic. |
Despite the "light" feel, This Means War!is actually more complex than most others in the real-time strategy genre. For one thing, you have many resources to worry about: farms, housing, oil wells, mines, and steel mills must be built just to produce the resources to drive your war machine. Also, similar to Panzer General, units earn experience in combat and advance in rank. The higher the rank, the more effective they become. By forming teams of units under the command of a ranking officer, you can improve the abilities of all members of that team. There are also formation commands (e.g. wedge) that you can use to outflank the enemies and minimize losses. These combat features, along with good sound effects and graphics, have the potential to provide an addictive experience.....
Unfortunately, the game has many bugs, quirks, and interface annoyances that get in the way of enjoyment. Most notable is the ambiguous functionality of the right mouse button. By right clicking on a building or unit, you'll pop up a properties menu. By holding down the right mouse button and dragging, you can scroll the map. The problem is that in most scenarios, virtually every square of terrain has either a structure or a unit on it. You'll therefore find yourself continually popping up the properties menu when what you wanted to do was scroll the map. This is extremely annoying, and is emblematic of generally poor interface design. Among other offenses: units move over a grid of squares, but the squares are not shown on the map. Another: once a unit is on its way, it won't respond to new orders until after it reaches the center of the square it is currently headed towards. If it is a slow moving unit, reaching this next "turning point" can take some time, and you have no choice but to wait.
Despite innovations such as RPG-style experience, and a unique sense of humor (some video cut-scenes are quite funny), This Means War! is bogged down with too many quirks, bugs, and clunky interface for anyone to really get into. It is a much deeper strategy game than both C&C or Warcraft II, but is not one-tenth as fun. If you're looking for an interim adrenaline rush while you wait for the next C&C to come out, you'll probably find This Means War! excruciatingly slow. Recommended only to the very patient strategy gamers who are looking for a humorous game that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Reviewed by: Underdogs