Review: Rusted Warfare10 Aug 2017 4
Review: Rusted Warfare
Released 01 Jan 2012
It seems like only yesterday that I was hunched over my cantankerous old PC, bleary eyed as the Global Defence Initiative battled the Brotherhood of Nod. In actual fact, it has been 22 years since the original Command & Conquer first stomped onto our monitors. That may not have been the first real time strategy (RTS) game but it certainly defined the genre and proved to be hugely popular, selling millions of copies.
Rusted Warfare plays like a tribute to early RTS classics such as the aforementioned Command & Conquer and the ensuing Total Annihilation. The title “Rusted Warfare” not only sounds a bit decrepit but also, in terms of mobile gaming, the game’s 2012 release date on Android means that it is already getting a little long-in-the-tooth. For some reason, it's recently made its way onto Steam, and since we never reviewed it the first time round now felt a good a time as any to give it the Pocket Tactics critical view...
For those unfamiliar with the RTS genre a brief explanation seems like a good place to start. At the beginning of each level, your military strength will usually consist of just a handful of basic units. The aim is to build up your strength by gathering resources and building factories and new units, whilst taking care to defend your base from enemy attacks. You get precious little time to consider your actions as, to add to the tension and excitement, everything is a constant battle against the clock. Eventually, one player will have a large enough army to overcome their opponent’s forces, at which point destroying the enemy’s base will result in victory.
Rusted Warfare takes a rather simplified and streamlined approach to the RTS genre. Resource management is kept to a bare minimum. Once you have set up a couple of mining units the money will start to roll in. You do not have to concern yourself with supplying factories with power or refining resources - the game is all about cold, hard cash. Once the money does start to flow you can begin to churn out an impressive array of over 40 land, sea and air units. Rusted Warfare manages to introduce a range of unique units whilst maintaining game balance. Some of the more unusual units include amphibious jets and flying fortresses, and, later in the game, there are even experimental units and nuclear strikes to ensure that you can end the game with a bang.
Any developer wishing to produce a mobile RTS has some pretty tough barriers to overcome. The chief problem when designing an RTS game for touchscreen devices is that the genre relies on quick and accurate inputs that are ideally suited to mouse control. Rusted Warfare does support both USB keyboard and mouse control, but most mobile gamers will still be reliant on touch control. Although far from ideal, the touch controls work reasonably well. The interface is both fast and smooth. Orders can be issued at both close quarters and from a zoomed out perspective, which allows players to view and issue commands across the whole battlefield. There are also options to group units together and to set rally points. However, when the battle heats up, selecting and directing units becomes hectic and rather hit and miss. Frustration sometimes sets in as you select the wrong units and then send them off in a mistaken direction. The problem is compounded when playing on a small screen, which makes identifying and selecting units extra fiddly. The graphics do scale nicely on a larger screen, but this feature also makes the lack of visual frills even more apparent.
The AI offers up a decent challenge, with enemy units grouping together before ruthlessly homing in on your base. There are six difficulty levels, so plenty to keep the solitary player occupied. Thankfully, the AI seems to play fairly and not too predictably. However, the game really begins to shine when you begin to explore the numerous multiplayer options. Matches can be played both online and offline and the game includes cross platform play between Windows, Linux and Android.
Rusted Warfare’s simplistic approach to resource management will not appeal to everyone. Like an obscenely rich football club owner, the path to success lacks subtlety, which means that throwing enough money at a problem will usually end up getting results. The maps, although numerous, are bland and featureless and do not feel distinctive enough. Technology development also takes a rudimentary approach. The only real option is to invest money in your factories to produce better units. Sadly, none of this is adequately explained. The game could definitely do with a much better rule overview. Apart from three diagrams the player is left to work out things for themselves.
Before I get too negative it must be remembered that the game isn’t really aiming to be a complex simulation. Combat is the focus of Rusted Warfare and, thankfully, it is well balanced. Orchestrating combined land, air and sea assaults feels both taxing and rewarding - it handles these basics very well. Battles tend to be quick and nasty, and can usually be completed within half-an-hour or less, making it very mobile friendly.
If this sounds appealing then may I suggest that you give the free demo version a try. You may not get a multiplayer option but the two campaign and skirmish missions should give you a good taste of what the game has to offer. If you decide to shell out for the full game then you will certainly get your money’s worth. The game has been regularly updated and currently includes: eight campaign missions, 37 skirmish maps, an endless survival mode with three maps and an additional seven ultra-tough challenges. To round it all off you can even download a separate utility that lets you create your own maps for any game mode. All of this is offered for a very reasonable one-off payment, with no extra charges.