Warfare 1944


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PsychotronicWarfare1944This new real-time strategy game from Con Artist teaches us some valuable lessons about the evolution of 20th-century combat. In the years between World War I and II, we abandoned trench lines for the makeshift cover of hedges and tombstones, and every battlefield became exactly three times as wide. If Hitler had thought to keep a machine gun squad entrenched on his center row, while sending Storm Troopers along the top and bottom, we might all be speaking German today.

That's the hook in Warfare 1944, a sequel to a game that was already one of the most engrossing casual strategy games on the web. Your soldiers still start at one end of the screen and advance horizontally to the other, but this time there are three planes of battle, opening up the possibility of flanking maneuvers or even bypassing some defenses completely.

The game can be played with only the mouse. Choose a squad type from the menu at lower right, then click on the row where you want to deploy them. The soldiers will charge into battle from off-screen, automatically attacking opposing units in their own row or in adjacent ones. While they are in the field, you can give them specific orders by clicking on them and then selecting an icon from the bottom menu, or with the [number] hotkeys on your keyboard. Win battles either by advancing all the way across the map, or by destroying the enemy's morale.

This is a cover-based game. Your units will automatically hold their positions at defensive lines scattered about the map until you tell them to move. Leap-frogging from one entrenchment to the next gives the gameplay its shape, since a soldier in the open is much, much more vulnerable to the whims of every passing bullet. Keep in mind that a single instance of cover can only support one squad, and the next one will just leap right over and get itself killed if you bunch them up.

The campaign mode tells a miniature story of the Normandy Invasion as the Allies push from the coast through Northern France. You can select either the easier U.S. campaign or the more defense-oriented German one, both of which take you through 8 missions concentrating on different units and terrain.

Warfare1944Based on your performance in each mission, you will accumulate experience that can be spent on training and equipment. There are plenty of options for both passive and active upgrades, which lets you adjust the game to your own micromanagement comfort level. Abilities like air strikes and grenades require giving a unit specific orders, while the permanent upgrades like additional firepower will allow you to focus on sending reinforcements, rather than babysitting the units on the field.

When you're done with both campaigns, you can still set up individual skirmishes to your taste. Choose your flavor of battlefield, difficulty, and even specific unit types. There is no multiplayer, but frankly this game is crying out for it. The single-player experience is terrific but short, and I want to test my skills against a human general.

Analysis: The flexible upgrade options give Warfare 1944 good replay value. I found it reasonable at first to just pile up my soldiers with guns and courage and send them off freely into battle, but the lure of smoke bombs and air strikes kept me re-campaigning in order to try out all the toys. The highest layer of upgrades are all powerful and fun, and it's convenient to be able to take two different skill paths to reach your favorites.

That's where Warfare 1944 is exceptional: in its subtlety. There are so many workable strategies, so much potential power in each specific unit, so many parries to each thrust, that you can fight through the game by reflex and instinct. That enemy tank is always a game-changer, but you've got bazookas, grenades, mortars, and artillery, even if you can't muster a quick tank of your own.

Warfare1944This is probably Con Artist's prettiest game so far, taking you through highly-detailed graveyards, fields, and townscapes. No need of dramatic anthems here; the cries of warriors and the stutter of machine guns are your theme music. The realism has a down-side — at a glance, the tiny soldiers sometimes blend squintingly into the background, and one looks a lot like another, whether they're carrying rifles or bazookas. And oh, what I would give for a mini-map! It's so easy to forget you have a spare assault squad crouched behind a row of sandbags, when you have to scroll the screen all the way across the battlefield to find them.

Con Artist's hyper-awareness of balance restrictions is probably overkill for a simple strategy game with a small variety of units. Considering the time lag between reinforcements, the experience point cost for new abilities, the resource cost for units, and the strict upper limit on the resource pool itself, it can feel like Warfare 1944 would rather not be played at all. Gameplay is sometimes less about effective strategy, and more about exploiting all the interlocking systems to get a large group of soldiers attacking in parallel. Preferably with a friendly tank in tow.

When you can't quite co-ordinate that unstoppable Blitzkrieg, though, when you're hanging onto each hedge row and stone wall by the grit on your fingernails, when the difference between victory and death-by-Panzer is a single bazooka shell... well, this game will grip you by the guts and squeeze as hard as anything else on the internet.

It's mightily easy to care about these straightforward walking soldiers. They fall prone under fire, they take solemn aim, they dolphin tragically through the air when a mortar strikes. When they're off-screen, I expect they smoke heavy cigars and crack jokes about brothels. Your mind's mission may be to win the war, but your heart's mission is to protect your men. That's quite an accomplishment for a little Flash game.

Play Warfare 1944

Thanks for sending this one in, Twilitlord and KingHomer!

25 Comments

Not gonna lie...

I haven't even played the game yet and I feel the need to comment on the integration of the initial preloader ad into the aesthetic of the game. This is the first one I've seen that has actually planned to include a preloader ad as opposed to having it plastered in the foreground apart from the game. I much prefer it this way... this is an interesting adaptation of the "free" content world to the world of advertising that sustains it... as much as we would like to pretend that world doesn't exist.

Of course it had to be half an hour after I sent this in that I discovered the constant attention it requires-I looked away for a minute to do something else to find my bazooka team gone and a tank rolling down the battlefield killing every team I sent at them.
Well, I guess I'll do that mission over.

Love this game (and it's predecessor). Beat it last night before the posting at JIG. Like real combat, flanking and momentum is key in this game. Don't wait till your ready, get him on his heels, and then throw everything you've got at hand. Given the balancing act the game employs, I wish I could go back and play earlier levels with the bonus upgrades, you know, just for the hell of it. The fact you can only replay the very last level before you lose all your hard work to create the "just so" fighting machine, well -- I want to go back try and take the pill box with nothing but a sniper and single mortar team.

No idea what -- covering fire -- is supposed to used for. It has no obvious function or explanation. I wonder if it tells the squad to shoot at more targets in the adjacent plane to assist an assault. Never used it once I figured that it did very little.

I can't believe they let you play as the Nazis. Those guys were the most evil ever seen, I shouldn't even have to argue this point. Psychotronic, even joking about the victory those monsters might have had is in bad taste; actually playing them is horrible.

Take it from a guy whose mom is Jewish (my dad is Greek). But really, Jews were far from the only ones murdered.

Half of this game is like a game about being a child molester--and if you played the Wehrmacht, I am not apologizing for that.

Yeah, I've noticed that Con Artist has done a good job of not promoting anyone with his Warfare games and looking at it from their historical role, that is the ones trying to free their allies and the last line of defense-which is important to not offend anyone. Joeynow, there's no actual promotion of Nazism, just a side with different advantages and disadvantages against the other. Otherwise, it's totally neutral.

And this is from the view of a guy whose great-grandfather was a German in an American prison camp during the war. From your point of view, I should be saying that they shouldn't let you play as the Americans.
Sorry about the double post.

Actually not all germans were bad.
a couple army members tried to assassinate Hitler, when they realized hitler was bad, and killing him would help Germany.
One German business man was responsible for saving a lot of Chinese people during ww2, in Nanjing China during the attack and occupancy of Nanjing (also known as Nanking massacre),
He tried contacting Hitler to stop the Japanese from making a brutal attack, but he got arrested by the gestapo, and was later released, He was also arrested by the allies and released after they found he did nothing wrong.
and apparently according to wikipedia, Hermann Goring's brother was not only anti-nazi, but used (okay forged)his brothers signature to allow several people to escape, and saw the nazi party as brutal.
Im sure there are other Germans who should have been acknowledged for what they did, But the game is the actual topic, and it is one of the better ones.

Yeah, I noticed that the German flag used wasn't the swastika one (though in truth, the swastika is an ancient symbol of good luck and other nice things, which Hitler wiped his bloody boots on).

Twilitlord, I never learned much about that side of it. I do know that, to defeat Hitler, America allied with Stalin, who turned out to be a monster dictator too. And then there were the Japanese-Americans we sent to prison camps.

War is never kind, not even when it's necessary. Not even when there's a Hitler to be fought.

Anyway, good game, though I kind of suck at it. Strategy games are hard.

The Japanese internment was more of paranoia and wartime stress, we just got attacked and no one knew who to trust, even if there were many who could be trusted.
The Japanese didn't exactly have their hands clean, first with the attack on pearl harbor, which really was like a slap in the face to America, and second with the nanking massacre, which was far worse then the internment, we held people in prisons,
Their soldiers killed and raped people.

Is it just me, or do your troops seem to advance automatically in the most stupid ways possible?

Let me explain something first: I'm a girl. It takes a lot for me to click on a battle simulation game, especially one that doesn't involve zombies and/or samurai swords. Without the sense of fantasy and disattachment, the blood and gore have zero appeal to me. This game, though, actually held my attention for longer than I expected. Though tiny and faceless, you do begin to feel something for the soldiers. There's a sense of a story just underneath the game that's enough to keep it away from gore for gore's sake. This was something I really appreciated, and that kept me playing.

Warfare 1917 was bearable, considering on Kongregate it received badges and it was simple. However, this game over replicates the original without fixing previous things. For one, why can't you reinforce a barrier with multiple teams, it's called reinforcing. Second, there is no major difference, I believe most, if not all, the upgrades are the same.

I agree with drakono, my soldiers, due to a filled barrier, rushed to another barrier despite it being filled with a machine gun squad. Mowed down.

I don't usually play battle sim games either, brokenrecord. For one thing, I suck at strategy.

And secondly I have a moral sense. Not a christian holier-than-thou thing, but the sense that if something hurts you it's wrong to do someone else. Killing is fun for me... when they deserve it.

Thirdly, broken, aren't you failing the feminist creed by saying girls are just naturally pacifistic, and guys naturally battle hungry? There are many exceptions, you know.

I encountered a really awful bug on the second Allied mission several times which made it unwinnable. The Germans would constantly reinforce their central cover point, and their troops would only ever advance after 5 or 6 squads had accumulated. Meanwhile, I can only send a small handful of squads across at this increasingly impregnable position. This resolved itself after the Germans mercifully decided to not reinforce the central lane the 5th time I attempted the mission.

I've played this game a few times and beat it on the hardest level, with both sides. And I have found that sending all or most of your men up the middle is the easiest way to succeed. Except for the levels where tanks are involved, having a bazooka team on a flank while an enemy tank is in the middle seems to keep them alive longer, and just the opposite on the final level where the tanks can only ride down the flanks. First send a bazooka team down the middle, then look what side the enemy sent their tank down, and send yours to meet it head on ... (I noticed if you look first you lose 200 resource points because it starts halfway full.) And if an enemy machine gun crew is killing all your men, it may be worth it to send out a sniper. One last thing, machine gun crews only have one machine gun and the two guys move slow, so send out assault teams and infantry first so you can move them over the cover before your machine gun team gets there. Everyone else will just jump over them.

War is war and in every war, people die. Just face it. In every war each side does some bad. Germany massacared all those jews, stalin had no regard for his troop and had most of them killed, Americans forced men to go to war even if they didn't want to and they sent Japanese-Americians to prision. And Britian had no regards for blacks and other race other than whites. Lastly, Japan murdered many civilians needlessly for no apparent reason and supported the idea of mass torture so badly, the soldiers probably welcomed death. At least it was quick and painless(most of the time).

Bob

"At least it was quick and painless(most of the time)."

Ah, huh? I think you meant "it was long and painful most of the time." Talk to some veterans about being shot or ripped apart by a mine. Most of the time soldiers don't die from their wounds (look at stats for combat injuries vs. deaths) and a lot of the time it is a very horrible physical, emotional, and mental anguish to go through, and most of the time those who do die it was not instantaneous.

You are kind-of correct about all sides had bad stuff they did and people die though.

Will there be another one?

"And Britian had no regards for blacks and other race other than whites"

What offensive nonsense. (and poor spelling)

British and Commonwealth / Empire units were mixed - black and white fighting together. It was the US state that was racist: American units were segregated into "negro" and white units, with Black troops invariably commanded by white staff officers.

I'm British; my family are racially mixed due to the cosmopolitan nature of that era (and now). My father fought in end of the war; as a young soldier he was stationed in Germany as part of the occupying troops. I have a German brother in law - and no problem with playing as "the enemy" - it's history!

People with offensive and ignorant views should either keep playing games about fantasy kingdoms and space aliens, or open a book and learn about the real world they live in.

I generally have whats seems like pretty high standards; I want sequels to be at least as good as the original. This game set that bar higher, not too high but high enough to impress me.

The one thing about this game is that, unlike 1917 where you just sat back and spammed away, it forces you to actually play through. That's exactly what I want from a game, a decent challenge that you need to constantly be aware of the ongoing battle to overcome. The resources are a great limit on this, and the three planes of battle made the game interesting.

I've noticed quite a few people from many different sites whining about not being able to put more than one team behind a piece of cover. Not only is the one team per cover rule historically accurate (soldiers were trained to never bunch up behind cover), it also keeps you on your toes. The bug in the second mission can easily be dealt with

using a few grenades and some smart playing, using MG teams on the top and bottom flank.

I believe the simplicity of the game went over a few heads here and there. When it comes to flash strategy games this is somewhere near (if not at) the top of the list of quality games. I can also argue that it's score on Armor Games is worse than the original game because there are a lot of younger people playing there and voting (aside from the whole "sequels are never as good" bias).

Is there a bug in the the "kill the officers" mission in the Wehrmacht campaign? I killed a few officers at the start, but then the Americans kept sending waves and waves of troops until my morale broke. Or is "kill the officers" just a suggestion for how to win?

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