Bark your orders, move your men, and win victory against the "Axis of Evil." Will of Steel is a real-time tactical game based on contemporary conflict. Players take control of a single battalion, which they must lead to victory through a series of skirmishes and battles against insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Success can lead to promotion, and even the reward of additional specialized units and services, such as air support, transport, or satellite recon. Missions take place in both day and night, and the game features a realistically "dynamic" sun which moves across the sky from dawn till dusk. Terrain types, elevation, and weather also can affect troop movements and procedures. Will of Steel incorporates voice recognition technology that allows players to take full command of their battalion by speaking orders into a microphone. More conventional control, through a mouse or keyboard, is also fully supported.
William Steel is the Marine officer in charge of the battalion which is engaged in modern urban warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. His father is a highly decorated general which explains why William is so driven; has a lot to live up to. The story really doesn't go much beyond that. Everything you need to know will be revealed in the missions and various objectives. Suffice to say that there will be a mix of combat locations including rugged mountainous terrain, the desert and urban areas.
At your command will be infantry, snipers, medics, tanks and aircraft. For the most part the formation of your units will take place rather easily. Issuing commands is straightforward as this modern-day approach to warfare virtually takes care of itself. Send out some recon to assess the situation and take the appropriate measures. You'll find there's little room for error. The game takes a very realistic approach to some aspects of warfare such as the limited number of soldiers. They don't respawn and you can't recruit new ones. The medic is capable of restoring some back to health but that's another story that I'll get to shortly.
You will only control about 30 units, give or take. They won't be able to sustain too many hits so you have to make sure they have some kind of cover or escape route. Unfortunately your units don't always do what's best for them. Expect to spend all of your time on micromanagement. Even when you issue strict orders they will be disobeyed. Most of this can be attributed to the pathfinding which will have units stumbling over each other and getting hung up in places like a parking lot where they can't get over a fence. Other times, some units will just walk out into the open for no reason at all to be taken down by the enemy. It's some kind of glitch in the system. I'm sure we would all agree that we'd like to take control of units that did more thinking for themselves - but not when they act like multiples of the Three Stooges.
Engineers are required to rebuild damaged vehicles and medics will heal the wounded. You will spend a lot of time overseeing each repair to both vehicles and humans. In a strange twist of fate, once the vehicles are fixed they automatically come equipped with human operators. I don't know where these men came from since you are only supposed to have a limited amount of soldiers. Perhaps they are ghosts.
When the game works, it works well. The various locations require different strategies. You can take cover in the mountains but tanks are useless. In the desert, tanks are invaluable. Aircraft are useful in both areas but are not effective for urban combat. There's a lot of variety to this game that would make it such an interesting game if only it weren't plagued by mechanical flaws.
Another problem is the voice command system. It just doesn't work. It's as though it was programmed for another language. When I ask for one thing I get another. Talk about frustrating.
Graphically the game is good, aside from framerate. It's nicely detailed although the desert scenes get a little repetitious looking. Urban areas have narrow streets, a variety of shops, houses and war-raved ruins as well as cars that give it a lived-in look. With the camera you can zoom in and check out the explosions. The special effects are limited to a few flashes and puffs of smoke but they look realistic enough. The sound effects are equally realistic and will server to remind you that you're in a danger zone.
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