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War Mongrels Review

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The train that is churning out all these Real Time Strategy (RTS) games doesn’t show any sign of stopping, or even slowing down! 

The latest is War Mongrels from Destructive Creations; set in the horrors of the Eastern Front of World War II, one of the bloodiest of all Hitler’s campaigns and one that doesn’t get much representation in games these days. 

war mongrels review 1
Attention!

The story that we are going to follow involves two Wehrmacht soldiers, called Manfred and Ernst. After joining up in a patriotic fervour, they are slowly disillusioned by what they see and are ordered to do, as they go through the brutality of every day in this theatre. Eventually, enough becomes too much, they snap and decide to desert.

Obviously, being German soldiers in a foreign, hostile land, they have their work cut out to stay alive, and this is where we come in. Our guidance is needed to help them get through safely. Are you up to the challenge?

Presentation wise and War Mongrels is actually very nice to look at. The story in particular is presented in a very stylised fashion, with animated cutscenes between the chapters providing the context for what we are doing. This works very well. Presented in an isometric, three quarters view, as is usual for these games, it looks very good, with a gritty, war-weary feel to the landscapes. The camera works well, able to be rotated and zoomed almost infinitely, making sure you always have the best view of the action. It is sometimes hard to see weapons laying on the ground if you aren’t zoomed right in, but this is a minor annoyance. 

The sound is equal, especially as two comrades are found chatting to each other. The enemies have plenty to say too. Gun shots, screams and cries are all as you’d expect, and all in all this is a good looking, good sounding game. 

war mongrels review 2
The grit of war

But what about the gameplay, I hear you ask? Well, here, the news is somewhat mixed. The actual gameplay is good, and planning is certainly required. A nice touch in War Mongrels is the variety in how you play. There is the choice of performing actions on the fly, of utilising a planning mode to stack orders up, or take to the field with a combat mode, where you take direct control of your guy, choosing who he shoots at. With this, things are kept pretty fresh, and it is the actual difficulty of the game that will do for you most times.

You see, going in guns blazing is a sure fire way to take a trip to the reload screen. Proper planning prevents poor performance, as the saying goes, but it appears that War Mongrels has very definite ideas about the right way to approach these missions. If you try to get creative, it most often ends in tears and a restart. Figuring out what the ‘correct’ path and ‘correct’ way to perform the actions that you are supposed to perform, is one of the bigger challenges. 

However, a game of this type lives and dies on the quality of the controller mapping, and War Mongrels struggles. It is such a faff to not only select the skill that you want your chosen guy to use, but then to actually get him to do it. You have to highlight the target and press A a few times to get him to move into action. But don’t press A too many times, or they will wander past the enemy and stand there like a spare part. It is, honestly, pad chewingly frustrating to have to keep restarting because your guys won’t do as they are told. The number of tries it took just to get through the tutorial level, despite my best intentions, was beyond a joke. While the game is hard, no two ways about it, the controls make it harder. 

war mongrels review 3
There’s a good game in War Mongrels…

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the enemy does appear to be pretty psychic, and if you try the old “shoot a guy and run away” approach, trying to whittle down their numbers, they seem to know exactly where you are; capable of spotting you even through walls. And they never miss either, especially true when you are still fumbling at the controls to try and make your guys do anything apart from fall down dead. There is much potential in War Mongrels, potential to be something good, telling a good story. But to be hamstrung by the controls seems to be almost unfair. 

As for a verdict, it can only go one way I’m afraid. There is a good game, a compelling game even, fighting to get out of War Mongrels, but it is buried under a pile of duff controls and absurd difficulty. If you want an RTS in your life, there are many better ones. And that is a shame.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good strong story
  • Looks nice
Cons:
  • Controls are shockingly bad
  • Difficulty is mental, even on easy
  • Psychic enemies are very annoying
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Destructive Creations
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 25 April 2023 | £31.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good strong story</li> <li>Looks nice</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Controls are shockingly bad</li> <li>Difficulty is mental, even on easy</li> <li>Psychic enemies are very annoying</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Destructive Creations</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 25 April 2023 | £31.99</li> </ul>War Mongrels Review
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