Chain of Command: Eastern Front PC Review

It’s not always easy writing video game reviews, folks. Sometimes you’ll get a game that you don’t really feel strongly about either way, which makes it difficult to say anything about it. Sometimes you’ll get a game you absolutely love, meaning you’ll go mental trying to make sure your review gets across exactly how much people need to play it. Sometimes, however, you’ll get a bad game to review. You’d think bad games are the easiest of the lot, really – it’s always nice to have the odd therapeutic rant about something you hate. It’s not that simple with games, though. See, games development takes a lot of funding and manpower these days. Mercilessly laying into a game isn’t so easy when you start to realise that your words might have a genuine effect on the careers and livelihoods of dozens of weary, over-worked programmers, artists, and so on. You actually start to feel a little guilty.

There’s a way around this, though. You remember the punters. You imagine little Timmy walking into his local Gamestation, clutching his saved-up pocket money, wondering what game to buy. Lured by the fancy boxart and entirely misleading list of features on the back, he takes the copy of whatever shite you’re meant to be reviewing, and he buys it, because you didn’t warn him about it. The red mist descends, and your hands approach the keyboard…

Chain of Command: Eastern Front is a real-time strategy game set during World War II. It’s also a complete waste of time for absolutely anyone involved with it. Whether you’re part of the developer or publisher who’s partly responsible for bringing it to the masses, or a poor sod who’s actually bought it – chances are you won’t thank Eastern Front for entering your life, no matter how brief its stay might have been. That’s not to say it’s an offensively bad game – it isn’t. In fact, it’s difficult to talk about anything the game really does wrong. It’s more the fact that it just fails to do anything, good or bad. Oh, there’s stuff like the poorly-translated manual that we’ve come to expect from Graffiti Entertainment (I know it’s a cheap dig, but come on. How expensive is it to get someone to proof-read these things? Hell, I’ll do it for a tenner. Seriously.), but there’s nothing that really strikes you as being broken. No, the problem with Eastern Front is just its absolute failure to engage the player. It’s just no fun, and gives you nothing to actually think about. Every mission sees you start with a pre-defined set of units. You’re given your objectives (“blow stuff up and kill Nazis”) and sent on your way. Then you move your guys around a bit and click on some Nazis until they die. That’s it.

Tactics? Don’t be daft, son. The AI in this game is non-existent. Every enemy you see charges straight at you as soon as he’s been spotted. Oh, and they’ve implemented fog of war without actually showing it to the player in any way, meaning enemy units will seem to just appear out of thin air as you run around. Brilliant.

Looking at the press releases for games like this can be pretty fun, as you can quite clearly imagine some marketing goon desperately trying to find anything to say about the game. Eastern Front’s list of ‘key features’ contains such technical marvels as “3D real time strategy game play ” and “Mouse + Keyboard controls”. That’s right, readers – we’re dealing with a real pinnacle of human endeavour here. And don’t get me started on the “Realistic sound effects” – the first mission has you taking your units past a stream, around which you can hear the sound of running water. Nice bit of attention to detail, you’d think. Is it realistic, though? Is it balls. The sample they’ve used is clearly a close-mic recording of a stream, which sounds totally wrong when the camera’s positioned a good twenty or thirty feet in the air. On top of that, the sample has an obvious loop point every five bloody seconds. Of course, we get crap like this in video games all the time, but to claim the game has realistic sound effects is just a total lie.

It’s probably worth mentioning the fact that Eastern Front is a budget release, but that doesn’t do a great deal for it. If you want a decent World War II strategy game, go buy a copy of the excellent Company of Heroes – a game that’s a damned sight more polished, and actually makes you think. If you want a cheap strategy game, you can probably dig out a copy of Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun for a fiver, and you’d be better off with that than you would be with Eastern Front.

Ultimately, Chain of Command: Eastern Front just comes across as a pointless, half-arsed attempt at a strategy game which neither innovates nor shows any kind of refinement of its genre. It’s as if the original Command and Conquer never happened.

Take your money elsewhere, boys.

2.5 out of 10

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