Game Review - by StormDaemon
Real Time Strategy as most gamers know it involves building up a base, gathering resources, and sending wave after wave of units against the enemy until someone wins. Lately strategy games have been putting a new twist to RTS games with the premise of not having a base and having a realistic scenario. Force 21 is one of the latest of those games and is made by Red Storm Entertainment, the company that brought everyone the incredibly popular Rainbow Six. As expected of games made by Red Storm, Force 21 is highly realistic and involves a great amount of strategy that would leave arcade action game players stranded helpless next to a smoldering tank. Players have to think and react quickly, and also pray that either the enemy misses, or you have enough armor left to protect against an incoming tank shell because in this game, a single shot can kill.
In the year 2015, China has grown to become a superpower in the world. As its economy expands, so does its thirst for more resources, which leads the country to invade Kazakhstan. In defense of that small country, and of Russia, engages the Chinese forces, and soon enough, World War 3 starts. You must choose sides as an armored commander of either the Chinese or the US forces and lead them to victory.
The most prominent feature of the game is its 3D graphics engine, which realistically portrays both the scenery and the vehicles involved in the war. For the vehicles themselves, there are over 40 different kinds that are completely based off of current combat vehicles. The game allows for control of up to sixteen different platoons of armored vehicles through 30 single player missions, or 10 multiplayer maps in which up to four people can play cooperatively or in a deathmatch.
Force 21 has a mixture of both an action game and a strategy game in its realistic war scenarios that involve fast combat and quick, intelligent thinking. Moving too slowly or not going after a target right away can result in the destruction of a vehicle or a platoon. Unfortunately, the AI isn't too be trusted too much with its own survival because it will just roll right into the line of fire of a bunch of tanks without giving it another thought. The realism portion of the game allows those unfortunate tanks to be destroyed in a heartbeat, although sometimes I've seen a machine gun take down a tank in a few seconds, which is incredibly far off from reality. Through several missions and trials I've come to the conclusion that the damage system isn't real enough and allows for vehicles to be destroyed to quickly and easily by such things as a machine gun that would otherwise cause the crew of a tank to just laugh as they fired an explosive round into the enemy. The AI crews of the tanks for the player sometime neither laugh nor fire, though the former being less expected than the latter. The enemy AI, however, has no problem reducing your platoon to a smoldering heap.
The graphics of Force 21 are good and realistic with detailed textures, but not incredibly detailed areas. The vehicles themselves look excellent and all seem to be modeled after the real thing, but the terrain doesn't have a lot of things on it such as houses, trees or buildings. There are those types of extras, of course, but if you're going to simulate a war-torn land, you might as well throw in a few more things that a slightly battered up road. The graphics engine itself isn't too bad even though it has its occasional minor glitch, such as a missing triangle. Other than that and a fog that is way to close for comfort (fog is the shortening of the viewing distance through the use of a misty substance that somewhat acts like fog), the effects are nicely done, and overall the game does look good, but not great.
The sounds of war are usually quick, loud, and thundering, as is the case with Force 21. Utilizing realistic war machine sounds along with voices from real people, you may actually think for a while that you are in a battle. The briefs before the missions all have voice-overs and sound very professional and military. Nothing too memorable is produced, but every sound feels as though it is accurately reproduced.
Force 21 is a strategy game that has good graphics, good gameplay, and a great theme. Though there are a few flaws, such as graphical bugs and less-than-average artificial intelligence at times, overall the game is a good and realistic war game that no Red Storm fan should be without. I'd even recommend this to RTS fans who may want to get a feel for a realistic real time strategy game. This game doesn't have the staying power of other strategy games, but it is good for a several war gaming sessions.