Let me just say before this review starts properly that Time of Wrath is a savagely accurate historical strategy game, and that by picking Poland as your first play-through (when there isn't even a tutorial) you are almost certainly condemned to share their historical fate. Indeed I made this mistake and although my brave Polish troops held out until late October 1939, they were soon enough completely annihilated by superior German Panzer units. Moving on from my troubles though and on with the review.
Time of Wrath is your typical turn based war/strategy game and it's style thoroughly reminded me of Sid Meier's absolutely outstanding game, Civilization 2 (one of the best games of all time). It is the sequel to 'road to victory' however unlike it's predecessor is a game of both successes and flaws. One area where Time of Wrath particularly shone was with the land based combat and there's something very satisfying about being able to build up armies and strategically move them from place to place, without having to spend hours and hours micro managing every tiny detail of the economy, politics etc. The game itself uses a turn based system, boasting 15,000+ hexagonal areas that troops can be moved around, which certainly adds a huge amount of tactical manoeuvring to the game. Another area that really impressed was the AI in the game. Not only did it constantly outsmart me (so should provide an excellent challenge for those hardcore strategy gamers) but I really enjoyed watching the different AI controlled countries attacking one another, promoting me to the role of World War 2, military science voyeur.
Another strong point for this game is the graphics. For a relatively small company Wastelands Interactive have done a great job in creating a map interface that gives the feeling of a WWII board room. All the units look fairly good and each one has been researched to the nth degree, which gives a high level of historical accuracy. The game also sports a dramatic soundtrack and this helps to add an action packed feeling to proceedings.
This is not to say the game doesn't suffer from problems. The naval combat is absolutely horrific there is no kinder way to put it. The idea is that you move your naval units from different ports around the coastline, which let's face it, is a fairly simplistic approach to start with. However that would be fine, if the interface wasn't so terrible and that added to this, there were so many bugs my ships were meeting enemy ships and I didn't even get an option to fight them. Another thing that was disappointing was the pricing of different units. Throughout the campaign you earn a certain amount of points (pp) from the 'war economy' of your cities, this can be spent on new units, technological advances etc. An example of the different unit pricing is 200pp for a bomber and the same price for an armoured corps. What I found fairly frustrating is that my bomber did very little damage and conversely the armoured corps single-handedly took me from the Ardennes forest to Paris (a bit of sarcasm but the point still stands).
Saying that though we may have established that this game has problems, but I don't want that to put people off playing it, it is still a very good game. I interviewed the developers Wastelands Interactive and asked them 'what did you hope to achieve in designing this game?'
"when we were designing World War 2: Time of Wrath, we were hoping to create game which will be to play and yet hard to master. We have also tried to give the player a feeling that he can use a general strategy in managing fronts, together with the possibly to operate on a tactical level. I think we have been able to achieve this by allowing you to operate with divisions and corps on a map with about 15,000 land hexes"
Well to conclude, Wastelands have achieved that to a fairly high level. The interface is generally very simple to use, the AI is moderately tough to come up against and it creates a good platform for the enthusiastic wartime strategy gamer. The game features an appropriate soundtrack and this really creates the War World 2 feel. It is let down in parts by the poor naval navigation and inconsistencies in game balance, but overall it is a good attempt at a wartime strategy game. Time of Wrath current retails at well under five pounds and at that price you'd be foolish not to at least give it a go. A game that will no doubt appeal strongly to those with an interest in strategy games or lovers of older styled gaming, possibly less so to those with a love for high paced action, or first person shooters.