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Simon & Schuster



Rival Interactive



T (Teen)



Q3 2002



- Real military units

- Groundwork for good multiplayer



- Tutorials not thorough

- Campaigns are not challenging

- Little strategic element in campaign

- Enemy AI is bone dumb

- Graphics look dated

- Annoying music

- Units not distinguishable enough



Review: WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (PC)

Review: Disciples II: Dark Prophecy (PC)

Review: Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom (PC)



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Real War: Rogue States

Score: 5.0 / 10


You probably wouldn't believe it but sometimes reviewing a game can feel like a real job and one that you are not too fond of, at that.  You feel you have to do something you don't really want to but you do it anyways, because you need to get the job done. Luckily for me, that doesn't happen too often, but once in a while I get sent a real dud to review, and it's difficult to just sit down and play through the darn thing.  


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That's what my experience with Real War: Rogue States was like.  The gameplay was wholly uninteresting, and the game itself including the campaigns, storyline, and mechanics were so mediocre as to be painful when played.  However, the blandness of the design did result in some decently playable multiplayer skirmishes.  Anyways, enough bashing the game, it still does get a passing grade; so let me tell you why it doesn't get a higher one.


Real War: Rogue States is the follow-up to the equally average Real War.  In Rogue States, you must once again act against ILA terrorist forces in suppressing their attempts to take over the world.  To accomplish this, you will have access to all of 




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the US military's hardware.  You can also play as ILA forces and have access to a different set of military weapons.


For both the good guys and the bad guys, this includes regular and elite troops, land armour, aircraft, amphibious units, sea units, missiles, and remote gun turrets.  All of these units are based on a real life counterpart and from my limited knowledge of the military, they seemed to be fairly accurate.  For instance, certain units 


are weaker than others against certain enemy units.  Yet others would be able to make short work of an enemy unit.  As such, unit selection is very important when taking out a specific enemy unit or division, as I would assume it is in real tactical combat.


Unfortunately, these strengths and weaknesses are only vaguely explained in

the manual and are not introduced very well for beginners to the game. 

What's worse is that the rather dated-looking graphics makes it very difficult to distinguish which units are which.  For instance, the Navy Seals, Rangers, and other troop land forces are difficult to tell apart.  The limited zoom function also makes it difficult to select the smaller units especially when they are moving.


Starting off with the tutorial, I was introduced to the basic mechanics of a real- time strategy game, which at this point in my gaming career is extremely redundant.  There were, however, no satisfactory tutorials that taught me the advanced mechanics of the game.  These tactics and methods were left for the manual, which itself isn't the best place for hands on instruction.


After completing the tutorials, I began on the campaign play and found each mission to be extremely dull.  First, there was not much learn as you play handy tutorial info as in better designed RTS games.  There was only the occasional order that told you specifically how to accomplish your objective.  These orders on the bright side, were excellent at dictating how to complete your objective, and left me with no challenge whatsoever when playing a mission.


What's worse though, is that along the way to completing your mission objectives, the enemy seems to be without any direct orders.  The enemy unit AI is bone dumb, and has a specific script that it follows.  Many times, this leads them to walk a specific route that you can either avoid with your troops, or leaves you up against a force that is extremely easy for you to defeat.  Without the aid of good enemy AI, there is really no challenge in any of the missions.


There is almost no building and resource collecting in any of the campaign missions, thus eliminating much of the strategic element.  This reduces the campaigns to being point and click affairs, where proper unit selection is the only intellectual challenge.  This is unfortunate because Rogue States offers a rich technology tree.


The story is also completely uninteresting, with a "freedom fighting" Independent Liberation Army that is bent on "freeing" the world from American imperialism.  The US by contrast is bent on stopping these "terrorists."  I couldn't figure out which side was meant to be a tongue in cheek representation of the real thing, but in my opinion they both represent a good satirical portrayal of their "real life" counterparts.  The only thing is, I don't think the designers meant the game to be a satire.


The attempt at realism is not aided by the extremely annoying music of synth rock guitar mixed over ridiculous military jargon sampled over a techno beat.  This, along with the stereotypical eastern European accent voiceover for the ILA briefings, contrasted by the rip off of the drill sergeant's voice from Full Metal Jacket in the US forces briefings, give the game a distinctly ridiculous feel when combined with the billing of the inclusion of real world weaponry.  


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The game's only redeeming feature may be that it's online component is fairly solid.  A neat feature is that in alliance play, players can team up together and have one player control land forces, another control air, and yet another control sea forces.  With enough play over time, and a period of learning, players may find a fairly rich multiplayer game in Real War with the many available units, and the underutilized complex technology tree.


With the poor storyline, unchallenging missions, and poor enemy AI, the single player portion of the game is totally disposable. With enough patience, players could find Rogue States worthwhile, in a multiplayer capacity.  However, with other great RTS games like Warcraft III, and Age of Mythology out right now, very few gamers may find themselves being tempted to play Real War: Rogue States.


- Mark Leung

(December 3, 2002)


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