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Video Game / Men of War

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Just another day in this man's army.

The third game in the Outfront Series, Men of War is a 2008 Real-Time Strategy game set during World War II. It uses a unique Game Engine with fully realistic physics, enabling players to use the environment to their advantage. While it is similar to Company of Heroes, more comparisons could be made toward Theatre of War. Instead of base building, you are given an arbitary number of units (with the option to call in reinforcements in some missions).

The game offers three campaigns, one for the Germans, one for the Soviets and one combined campaign for both the Americans and British (who get a grand total of 1.5 missions ) during Operation Torch. More nations exist in multiplayer, though.

As well as full physics, the two other main selling points of the game are direct control and the GEM Editor. You can spend literally days in the latter, thanks to the fun of it. Ever wanted to see how Operation Unthinkable would work? You can do that easily. Match a Koenigstiger against an IS-3? That's actually the easiest thing to achieve.

The game received several sequels/expansions using the same engine and implementing minor graphics upgrades:

  • Red Tide (2009): Focusing exclusively on the Black Sea theater, the game is single-player only, doesn't include the editor, but offers the longest campaign in the series. It portrays major and minor engagements between Soviet forces (primarily Black Sea Fleet marines, although paratroopers also appear) and the Axis (German, Romanian, and Italian armies). Includes a controllable Leonid Brezhnev in one mission.
  • Assault Squad, known in Russia as Desert Fox (2011): A multi-player only installment with a handful of skirmishes for the single player. Prior to the release of Assault Squad 2 it was one of the most popular installments, with the largest offer of units, not just tanks. Greatly increased the focus on infantry squad tactics.
  • Vietnam (2011): A proper sequel, Men of War: Vietnam, takes place in The Vietnam War and features 2 campaigns, one North Vietnamese and one American. Unfortunately, the number of units appearing in the game, especially vehicles, is minuscule.
  • Condemned Heroes, known in Russia as Strafe Battalion (2012): Another single-player only title, focusing on the infamous penal battalions of the Soviet Union. By far the worst installment in the series, as the missions are largely Nintendo Hard exercises in frustration and abuse of mechanics, without so much as a story to put them all in context. The original penal battalion mission from vanilla Men of War outshines the entire expansion pack.
  • Assault Squad 2 (2015): An updated "sequel" to Assault Squad. Again focuses on the multi-player, but with a sizable single-player component as well.
  • Call to Arms (2018): A licensed modern-day remake of Assault Squad ported to an updated engine, made by Digital Mind Soft and some modders. It further upgrades the "direct control mode" into a First-Person Shooter (for infantry) and Third-Person Shooter (for vehicles).
  • Men of War: Assault Squad 2 - Cold War (2019): Technically an official standalone expansion of Call to Arms, with most assets and user interface imported from it. Features a dynamic campaign generator and a healthbar-based vehicle combat system resembling the one in Company of Heroes. However the direct control mode didn't carry over.
  • Call To Arms - Gates of Hell: Ostfront (2021): A DLCnote  for Call To Arms that takes the settings back to World War 2.

This game contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: In real life, guns can shoot hundreds of meters and most tanks can fire further then a kilometre, although this would allow units to engage the enemy from different ends of the map; mods that add realistic ranges and accuracy tend to break the game, as a captured anti-aircraft gun or tank lets you engage pretty much any target you can see on the screen as long as there's no terrain in the way, even if you need to blow through a house or two on the way.
    • This game does a much better job than other RTS's. Tanks can shoot all the way across the smaller maps, terrain permitting.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted. All weapons and vehicles have historically accurate names - and often there are multiple models available.
  • Artificial Brilliance: In general, the AI is a competent opponent, particularly with infantry. While the game (realistically) favors tanks, they're extremely fragile when an enemy soldier sneaks up with an anti-tank grenade. Even the mighty Tiger can be disabled with a well used grenade. Skirmish AI is also a competent opponent and will use tanks, infantry, and artillery properly.
  • Artificial Stupidity: However, the AI seems to go full retard when it's given tanks in single player. It will drive them right into your trenches and the range of your infantry's grenades, anti-tank guns, and regular tanks. The difficulty comes from the accuracy of the enemy's guns and the sheer volume of manpower and ordnance thrown your way. Friendly forces are even more stupid, as they will drive vehicles on point and try fighting enemy tanks at point-blank range, usually turning the tank's rear towards the enemy because why not. In AI's hands, an IS-2 (one of the most well armored Soviet tanks in the war, with a 122mm cannon to match) will get routinely slaughtered by the humble Panther with a 75mm cannon.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Lots for any of the game's dubs (at least for every dialogue and cutscene). But also a visual example. When the spymaster of the French resistance in North Africa, Henry D'Astier, meets with Terry Palmer's squad on the beach rendez-vouz point, he wears a beret and a goatee with a French moustache. Apart from being overly stereotypical for a Frenchman, he looks nothing how he did in real life.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Most of the plot dialogue is coherent, but a lot of the American and British lines are rather nonsensical. "AIM IS IN THE REACH ZONE" is something anyone who plays the US faction a lot is familiar with.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Could not have been averted further.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Averted. Tanks can change between Heavy Explosive and Anti-Tank rounds but can also use any machine guns. At the same time. Oh, and just to clarify: Most tanks have three machine guns!
    • Also, every unit can use any weapon they find, allowing units to perform any role they want, such as having sappers destroy tanks with rocket launchers (Although they are less effective that way).
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight with infantry. There is no difference between a soldier at one HP and one hundred HP apart from a "wounded" pose for the former that only appears when standing perfectly still. Averted with vehicles and gun emplacements, though.
  • Dance Party Ending: The ending of the Soviet campaign for the original Men of War, bizarrely enough.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: See that tank? Damage the turret, forcing the crew out, and you can drive it back behind your lines. After patching up, you can turn it on the enemy. In fact, some missions appear to be designed with the assumption that you captured a few enemy combat vehicles.
  • Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: The third skirmish mission of each faction in Assault Squad 2 is this in spades. The player is tasked to defend their HQ from eight waves of enemy tanks, while the player gets a healthy amount of resources to deploy tanks (or anti-tank gun emplacements) of their own. To further drive the point home, the mission severely limits the dedicated infantry both sides can call into the battlefield. The AI can only spawn a small fireteam escort made of riflemen and submachine gunners, while the player can only call on a pair of rocket launcher troops or a five-men spare tank crew. By the mission's end, you'll have probably taken down about a hundred enemy vehicles.
  • Fan Remake: Assault Squad 2's workshop has a bunch of mods that port the campaigns from previous games, such as Red Tide and Vietnam while adding their assets to the game's editor, The Vietnam remake goes a step further and even ports the game's multiplayer mode with a few new maps to AS 2 while adding a few new Vietnam-era vehicles.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Happens usually by shooting a high enough caliber shot at the fuel tank carried by flamethrower troopers will cause the container to combust, and setting fire to everybody within several meters of them before finally burning to death themselves.
  • Fragile Speedster: All the light tanks and armored vehicles. An anti-tank rifle will knock them out instantly, not to mention field guns and AT grenades, but they are fast. So fast, in fact, that they can dodge AT grenades thrown at them even when accelerating from zero. The guns they mount also make mince-meat of infantry and gun crews if they can flank them.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The "Vietnamese Connection" mission, the 2nd mission in the Vietnamese campaign of Men of War Vietnam will almost always crash with ripples, shadows and basically most visual effects turned on, even when most of the settings have been turned down, the mission will crash eventually, with it crashing sooner the more you save, even running the risk of corrupting your save, forcing you to manually delete the effected save as the game prevents you opening the load menu with a corrupted save, this forces anyone playing to turn down all the graphics settings and only save occasionally and even then it'll still crash a good few time before it's finished.
  • Game Mod: Via the Steam Workshop, mods that add missions, change the game completely from its WW2 setting to others (e.g Red Rising mod, which changes the game to the modern day and Ultimate Mod 40k, which brings the game to the 41st millennium), add new sound and visual effects, make bodies and vehicle carcasses permanent and even add unit spawners.
  • Garrisonable Structures: Infantry have the ability to use the windows and balconies of buildings on the map as cover spots, sniper nests, and so on. Soldiers won't autonomously enter upper floors or change which window they are looking out through, though.
  • Glass Cannon: Any light vehicle with a big gun. The Sd.Kfz. 234 Puma with a 5cm KwK is an excellent example, as given the chance, it can wreck even a heavy tank (including a Tiger).
  • Grid Inventory: How each units inventory is set. Fairly strange how helmets and body armor take up room with the other stuff.
  • Have a Nice Death: Every mission in the series has a usually decent sized game over message, sometimes even speculating what would happen if your faction lost that battle in the war.
  • Hold the Line: This game loves them. About a third of single player missions are those.
  • Just a Stupid Accent/Dull Surprise: The voice acting, full stop.
  • Level Editor: The GEM Editor, naturally. In fact, that is the game's biggest selling point since people have created entire missions just from messing around in it.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Tiger, in keeping with its real-life qualities: The legendary Acht-Acht on a heavily armoured chassis that can close distance at a terrifying speed.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Without mods, this trope is actually subverted. The game has code that can recognize when the body of a soldier is mutilated beyond recognition (eg. directly hit by an armor-piercing tank shell or run over by a heavy tank), but no gibs appear. The body simply disappears with a scream and leaves behind the weapon, the soldier's headwear, and a small splash of blood on the ground that's no bigger than the one from a normal bullet wound.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: For vehicles, the Katyusha, the Sherman Calliope and the Nebelerfers are good examples. A large group of mortars can have the same effect... sometimes.
    • Oh... and ESPECIALLY with the Land Mattress. Vroum!
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Red Tide, which exclusively features missions set around the Black Sea played from the Soviet perspective.
    • Condemned Heroes, centered around guirilla warfare and punishment battalions.
  • More Dakka: Men of War takes this trope to the T. Tanks mount multiple machine guns as it is in real life, AA guns are bad news for anything less armored than a medium tank, and most importantly, any infantryman can detach HEAVY MACHINE GUNS like M2 & DSHK from vehicles and fire it full-auto on foot.note 
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Red Tide and Condemned Heroes lack an Axis campaign. German Campaign is included in Soldiers: Heroes of World War 2, Men of War'x as well asDesert Fox, but it specifically follows Rommel's Afrika Korps (the only branch of The German Army that wasn't accused of war-crimes).
    • Desert Fox's international release Assault Squad and updated version Assault Squad 2 has full campaigns for both Germany and Japan.
  • No Swastikas: Played straight, but can be readily changed with simple texture mods.
  • Oddly Numbered Sequel: Men Of War 2, set to be released in late-2023, early 2024, is actually the sixth game in the Men of War series, and the 11th in the total Outfront series.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Rifle and MG bullets can pass through several infantry, while armour-piercing AT shells can do the same to tanks- it's common to see a large AT gun like an 88mm firing at a light tank like a Stuart, which manages to go clean through and damage another tank driving behind it.
  • Real Is Brown: Averted, the battlefield is as colorful as your computer settings can allow it to be. One of the few war games to do this.
  • Scenery Gorn: At the end of a mission or skirmish, the battlefield can (and often will) be a moonscape strewn with corpses and burnt-out wreckage of combat vehicles. Cities and villages will be reduced to piles of rubble. During the mission, catastrophic kills on vehicles make them explode in a glorious conflagration.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Inverted. Contrary to the trailers and covers and the game descriptions and pre-release messages, the British faction (one of the only four factions in the original game) is only playable in the finale mission of the third campaign. The rest of the time they are either fighting you or have a little role beside the Americans. Or both. Fortunately, they are available in the editor.
    • They're widely played online, and get their own missions in the Assault Squad expansion.
  • Subsystem Damage: Vehicles and gun emplacements are separated into components that can be individually targeted. The game plays with this trope a bit in unique ways outside of the usual "shoot a vehicle's tracks to immobilize it."
    • Damage to a component can either be repairable (marked red in the HUD) or beyond repair (marked gray). This can mean the difference between capturing a knocked-out enemy vehicle or a bunch of useless scrap metal.
    • Sufficient damage to the main hull of a vehicle forces the crew out and prevents other people from entering it. Depending on exactly how much damage the hull received, though, the hull may still be repaired (though it can take a while), allowing recapture of the vehicle.
    • When the engine of a vehicle is damaged, not only is it immobilized, but there is also a chance that the engine will catch fire. The fire will always eventually spread into the hull, damaging the vehicle beyond repair and forcing the crew out.
    • On top of damaging the vehicle's individual parts beyond repair, vehicles can explode in a more spectacular "catastrophic kill" explosion that flings turrets into the air and blows away anyone unlucky enough to be standing nearby. This usually happens when the vehicle's ammo storage is destroyed either by spreading fire or a penetrating Critical Hit.
    • Aside from the vehicle's individual parts, the human crew also count towards this trope. A shot may do little visible or functional damage to a tank, but the shockwave and internal spalling can still temporarily stun the crew or even outright kill some of them. Vehicles with less than the optimal number of crew also operate less effectively because the crew are forced to constantly switch roles (eg. a tank with one crew member cannot fire the main cannon and drive at the same time).
  • Sudden Gameplay Change: The second to last American mission takes advantage of the direct control feature to make a good part of it a rail shooter on an up-armored jeep.
  • Support Power: Some missions allow you to call in airstrikes, artillery barrages, or simply receive reinforcements.
  • Take Cover!: The bread and butter of infantry combat. Unless you have to run like hell!
  • Tank Goodness: To a limited degree in the campaign, as you're usually given fragile light tanks and armored cars (if at all). In the editor, this trope is in full effect, allowing for creating setpiece battles that involve pretty much every tank used in World War II - up to and including the IS-3, Tiger II, Sherman Jumbo, and more.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Assault Squad's hero units arrive to the field, fueled by tunes from the motherland. Especially the Japanese and Russian heroes sport rather bombastic theme songs.
  • Universal Ammunition: For infantry, there are 3 basic ammo types: Rifle, SMG and Machine Gun rounds. Vehicles are more picky, though as long as the side and the caliber matches, you can generally use weapons interchangeably. Acceptable Breaks from Reality as searching for specific ammo for your weapon would be very annoying, there are a few other ammo types for weapons such as Heavy Machine Guns and Anti-tank rifles.
    • However, mods can deconstruct this system. Especially with GSM Fields of Honor, Robz Realism Mod or Valor, where it introduced specific shell types and completely replaced the artillery universal ammunition system by restricting specific shells to certain guns, like for example in GSM Fields of Honor you cannot use a American M5 75mm shell inside a German PAK-40, unlike in vanilla.
    • Call to Arms finally changed the ammunition system, typing ammo to each single gun.
  • Updated Re-release: Men of War origins, a remake using the Assault Squad 2 engine was released in 2016 as DLC, completely replacing the older MOW models and effects with the new ones from MOWAS 2. The Narmy voice acting is also replaced, to a less stereotypical accent to voice acting that would be seen in a high school play. However, differences in the system made sneaking missions much harder.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Inverted. The flamethrower is one of the most powerful infantry weapons. It sets any unit it touches on fire, with hilarious results, it can destroy any vehicle and its crew within seconds, can burn away nearly anything that can be used for concealment, and is a good weapon for clearing out buildings. Its only downsides are its limited fuel (which isn't that limited given that flamethrower tanks can be refilled from the numerous vehicles the game spawns) and its short range (which can be mitigated by tactics to get flamethrower infantry within range).
  • War Is Hell: The game doesn't specifically invoke this trope - it's a natural consequence of the gameplay. Infantry hit with a tank shell disappears in a puff of red mist. Machineguns tear apart entire squads during attack. Crews of damaged vehicles may emerge, burning and run shrieking towards their inevitable death. Artillery tears the landscape apart, ruining homes and sending bits of soldiers flying across the landscape. Tanks crush bodies into mush, push burned-out wreckage out of their way, and generally act as unstoppable behemoths as they rumble towards you (and quite often, you won't have proper anti-tank weapons).