Tag Archives: Command and Conquer

Wargroove brings brain-teasing tactics to consoles

Evidently, I am attracted to a very specific type of strategy game, and it is Wargroove. Which, as far as I can tell, is trying to be a modern take on the Advance Wars series, but I never got to play any of them, woe is me. In fact, the only strategy games I have any experience with are Fire Emblem: Awakening, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked, among other smaller titles that I surely can’t remember at this moment. In short, I’ve never been a big fan of SRPGs or tactical games, but the genre is growing on me, especially if it is turn-based and not action-driven, like the Command & Conquer series. Give me time to think, people.

Anyways, Wargroove is a turn-based tactics video game in which players explore maps and battle foes, which is pretty typical stuff. Players can choose to take control of one of thirteen commanders, each with their own campaign, motivations, and personality, as well as special ability, referred to as a Groove. The game supports local and online multiplayer, including player versus player and cooperative play. There’s also a bunch of campaign-editing tools to allow players to create their own maps, which I promise here and now to never do though I’m not opposed to downloading some others have created. For me, it’s all about the main campaign.

Let’s dig in further. When war breaks out in the Kingdom of Cherrystone, the young Queen Mercia–who I occasionally misread as Merica–must flee her home. Pursued by her foes, which includes vampires, the only way to save her kingdom is to travel to new lands in search of allies. So far, I’ve only completing all the missions in Act 1 so…this is kind of all I really know story-wise at the moment. I’m sure things will get more dramatic later, but Wargroove does a great job with its storytelling, using in-game graphics to present bits of dialogue. I am always a fan of when a character grunts or just speaks one word from an entire sentence, and that’s how things go here, but you still get an idea about these people and what they sound like.

The first few missions do a good job of slowly easing you into Wargroove‘s groove. Your goal is generally to either defeat the opposing army’s commander or take their fortress. Capturing unallied buildings on the map or taking them from your opponent earns you money, which you can then spend on new units or health. The campaign introduces the units one after another and gives you hints as to their use, as well as how to use their respective critical hits. The first time you’re up against airborne fiends, for example, you also gain ballistas and mages, both excellent against that particular type of enemy. These missions give you time to get to know units and their strengths and weaknesses without being overbearing. Knowing what type of soldier fares best against what enemy is vitally crucial to keeping your troops standing.

So far, Wargroove’s weaknesses are a bit of a bummer and do detract from its general goodness. These include its occasional spike of crushing difficulty and tendency to drag on, turn after turn after turn. Positioning characters in the right spots for attacks and critical hits is already difficult enough, but Wargroove’s maps are relatively large, which means you can spend round after round simply traveling to meet the enemy or setting up your troops in the most optimal location possible. Maps often have chokepoints, such as bridges, that can be difficult to circumvent, quickly leading to your soldiers literally lining up to meet their maker. Flanking enemies is really important, as your damage to rival troops goes up greatly, but generating an army large enough to do so takes time, even if you load a bunch of them into wagons.

That all said, I am enjoying Wargroove and am excited to hop back into it after taking a bit of break once I got through Act 1’s missions. Seems like a big patch just hit for the game too, with many things being updated, such as adding mid-mission checkpoints and such. That’s cool. If it can make some of the more difficult missions easier and forgiving, I’m all for it, because it stinks to waste thirty minutes doing battle only to have your commander get wiped somewhat unfairly.

Lastly, I’m just going to leave this here, because it is all anyone needs to see to know that Wargroove is super special:

The Annals of Halgren slaughter goblins for an hour in Icewind Dale II

Well, now I can say I’ve played two Forgotten Realms videogames, and both turned out pretty uninspiring in my eyes. Which is strange, given the wide berth of fiction and fantasy they can draw from. I just don’t know. Maybe if I had played Icewind Dale II when it actually came out in 2002, back when I was eating up Diablo II and Commander & Conquer: Red Alert by the handful in my college dorm deep into early hours of the morning, I might have fallen madly in love with its high levels of customization and general openness. But it was not meant to be.

Anyways, click this very sentence to see how the first hour of Icewind Dale II panned out for me and my adventuring band.

At some point, I’ll be trying out The Temple of Elemental Evil, too…since it came free with my purchase of the game at hand. So long as there is less goblin-slaughtering in the first sixty minutes, I’ll be pleased.

Games Completed in 2011, #16 – A Kingdom of Keflings

I used to be a Command & Conquer: Red Alert junkie back in my high school and early college days, and much of this blame can go to my then best friend W. We would constantly challenge each other in races for single-player missions or go head-to-head in crazy, hours-long skirmishes. I rarely won, and the biggest reason most certainly was because I took too long trying to build my base up perfectly. The key word is perfectly, not perfunctory. W would build his base just enough to start amassing troops and heavy tanks and then swarm me as I was still trying to figure out where to place my Tesla Coils.

Thankfully, in A Kingdom of Keflings, I have all the time in the world to build my base–because nobody’s coming to attack me. There’s still the problem of building my magical kingdom perfectly, which quickly got away from me as I placed houses here and workshops there and my giant castle in front of a chunk of dense forest. But there’s no outside pressure; just soothing music (save for the banjo tune), a lot of back and forth, and a great sense of accomplishment as you lock in that final piece of a building.

I don’t really understand Keflings and where they come from or why they worship my giant Avatar so, but that’s all pretty moot in the grand scheme of things. They’re great help in mining for source materials or carrying them from one end to the other. And they seemed to like me, despite my constant kicking of them or taking off their hats. It’s a quirky mix for sure.

Achievements-wise, I got 11 out of 12 by the game’s end, most of which pop naturally as you progress through the many blueprints. The last remaining one requires me to host a multiplayer game and get ten other Xbox 360ers to join and drop a special banner down. I probably won’t ever pursue that one. You’ve played A Kingdom of Keflings once, you’ve played it enough. That’s not a slam. I enjoyed my chilled time with the game, just relaxing it up and going through the motions. But nothing different would happen in a second playthrough except maybe me trying harder to achieve the most perfect-looking kingdom. Alas, I know in my heart of hearts that no kingdom would ever be perfect enough for me–unless I can physically live there.