19 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 3.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 22 @ 10:59am

Syrian Warfare is a RTS game intended to capture the [you guessed it] conflict in Present-Day Syria. And goddamn does it do a good job of it.

Let's cut to the chase.

-Pros:

-Atmosphere.
The purpose of a game is to immerse a player in its atmosphere and holy f*ck this game does it. I rarely 'feel' while playing any game, let alone a RTS, but I feel emotionally connected to the struggles of my men. You are leading a force with few allies, bodged-together equipment and plenty of people out there to kill you.

You will feel isolated, you will be fighting against all odds and the road ahead won't be easy - the game does a very good job of showing you this. Other commanders may be self-serving and incompetent and you will be questioning who your friends really are. The ways the game does all this is through good quality storytelling and with gameplay. It involves you and contrary to most game design these days, doesn't just tell you 'THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD'. It's hard to put to words how good the devs have done at creating an intense, even daunting atmosphere. Ammo is finite, fuel is finite, willpower is finite - and basically you are f*cked unless you can be pragmatic.

-Soundtrack.
EDLISE, Brook Vernade and Smileque have masterfully composed the game's soundtrack which I have jammed on repeat as I type this review. Every single song is distinct and creates its own atmosphere. Whether it's Sands' slow, steady and punchy pace backs methodically commanding several BTRs through a village or Homeland's gentle guitars accompany two disparate RPG groups holding the line against all odds, the soundtrack is just perfect and fits the ambience perfectly. Just one layer of the game that makes you feel connected with it. You've got just short of 90 minutes of pure OST and the songs don't get old.
[Sands, Battle Pulse, Warbeat and Etudes of War are my personal favourites.]

-Intuitive Gameplay.
AI will reposition themselves in buildings. They will breach and clear to the point of engaging in melee combat if things are too up-close-and-personal for guns. Formations can be controlled but nothing needs micromanaging. Your men are not absolutely autonomous, but are smart enough to handle themselves if you're reacting to a SVBIED charge elsewhere. They will take cover and not die because the game does a good job of having them behave like real people. They even treat their own wounds in down-time to maximise their survivability.

-Atmosphere 2, Electric Boogaloo.
I can't stress how immersive the game gets. A rusted-out, turretless shell of what I can assume was a T-55 charged an allied position, covered in sandbags. I swiftly learned the hard way that aforementioned T-55 was loaded to the brim with explosives and those sandbags were sealing the driver in. A tank-based SVBIED took down a friendly BTR and a house full of riflemen. The game is brimming with these kinds of experiences, not to mention a faux social media that you can choose to read on a tablet to see how the world is reacting to the crisis in Syria. There are disputes in the comments section, a news programme and everything feels real. Again, it's hard to convey how excellent a job the devs have done at creating an atmosphere.

-Voice acting?
I can see why people could possibly argue the contrary, but I argue that the voice acting is excellent. Characters are emotional and have imperfections. At one point, you receive useful information over the phone and are grateful, but as the call drags out your character gets frustrated and cuts the call short to focus on fighting. In one of Palmyra missions, a fellow commander has a unique personality that I shall not spoil, but you will totally understand upon getting the DLC, which I wholly recommend you do.

-Meh points:

-AI
The AI are typically very good, but very occasionally I will need to micromanage moving a squad so a stray rifleman is on the correct side of the cover. Not a huge issue but a mild irritation. On another occasion, I had to send in an AT team a good portion across the map via technical to finish an eternal gunfight between a crewman armed with an AK and a confused enemy BRDM that had run out of ammo. Bar that, no real quarrels. This could also be refuted by the fact a game can't be expected to cover *every* improbable scenario on the battlefield.

-Pacing/Difficulty
Enemies can be a little bit spongy and gunfights can drag on for longer than feels realistic. It's typically infantry vs. infantry that drags out the longest while vehicle battles are incredibly brief. My strategy now consists of temporarily banning my men from using anything other than hand grenades and rocket launchers to reduce the time taken fighting building to building.
However, I guess this is kinda realistic? Urban warfare is often brutal and incredibly slow, so I guess this point could be dismissed in its entirety if you so please. My only other issue is that my men never seem to prevail with building clearing and I watch on in horror as my final rifleman has a rifle bayonet jammed into his throat. Again, my relative inexperience with the game and the inexperience of my own men could be pinned down as the culprits to this.

-Inconsistent destruction?
The building destruction is a very cool mechanic, but the ability to damage waist-high walls with grenades would be a godsend. Sometimes chunks of buildings can levitate, but it's not awful or immersion breaking by any means. Again, a tiny little issue.

-Variety?
An option to play as OPFOR, or greater expansion to the GRU's role would be interesting. Yet again, simply personal taste.

-Menu design.
It feels a little bit dated but does everything a menu should do. Once more, personal taste and a seriously superficial issue. It does the job and it isn't confusing.

That's basically it for criticism.

TLDR: Overall the game is brilliant. It has sensitively addressed a present-day conflict without ramming ideology down the throat of the player, yet depicting it in a brutal and real-feeling way. It does a great job of building atmosphere and tension without explicitly telling you to do so. Everything feels subtle and well-considered, from the story to the gameplay.

Considering how the majority of my issues are down to the vastness of the game and personal taste, I'd give this game a solid 9.5/10. I was lucky enough to catch the deluxe edition on sale, but had I known what I was in for I'd have happily bought the game and everything alongside it full-price. I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I have and the devs have pleasantly caught me off-guard.

I'd like to personally commend the developers for daring to try and depict the Syrian conflict and executing said challenge almost flawlessly. It's rare I am this kind about a game, let alone giving my praise to the devs, but I mean it. This game is incredible!

-Bvnditi
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1 Comments
Brutaful Jul 10 @ 12:49am 
A very well written review!