Reviews really are not my thing, but for a game like this I simply have too.
This was one of my first RTS games ever played and frankly it has been stuck in my head since I played it as a child, now years later I find it on Steam, play it and god it still holds up today, I admit the game does have its issues, but the good far outweighs the bad, I will list everything, but keep in mind while there is some small facts in this, most of it is opinion.
I'll start with the bad:
- Voice Acting isnt the best, and in times even messes up its audio making a character speak with different voices.
- Graphics are old, I say old, not bad, back then the graphics were nothing special but they got the job done.
- Slow Paced, If you want to learn this game or just see everything it has to offer, or even just steamroll missions, you need to be patient, things take awhile to start up, building bases, some missions forcing you to wait time limits, the game itself showing you its features and unlocking things bit by bit on each mission,
- Game suffers from start up difficulties and is fussy on how it wants to work, even if you have a really powerful computer, Original War will downright refuse you if it isnt set right. but these problems can be fixed with some tweaking with settings depending on the system, I'm sure that most if not all Original War players had to do something to make the game run properly.
- No Skirmish mode with AI, only players, a mod is apparently being worked on but I don't know for sure. Sure, playing with players is more fun and how its meant to be played, but a little practice would be nice so you have a feeling of the difference in pace from the campaign missions.
And as for the good:
- Open ended story/campaign, the campaigns in this game have so much dialog, possible results and effects with decisions, I have fun messing with the game still after all these years just repeating missions to find all the dialog and effects on a mission, you can branch them out on each playthrough and it will save them going from worst to best result, plenty of replayability if you have the patience. remember, the results of one mission can easily effect another, be it good or bad, the mission after, or a mission much later in the game.
- Characters/RPG elements, This game doesnt allow you to spawn more troops, besides from vehicles and buildings, the people what you have is what you get, if someone dies, your not seeing them again. this makes you want to keep each one alive for multiple reasons outside of keeping the base running, characters are far more efficient at most if not all tasks depending on their class, each class can be leveled up granting them slight stat boosts in defense/attack while being more efficient at the role they are in. This causes tension when a battle starts, should you send remote or AI forces at the enemy? having mediocre stats but can be rebuilt, or should you send your valuable characters with better stats, but irreplaceable on death. The stats of a character are important even when building a base, the higher level engineer you have not only chages how fast a building can be made, but also the quality of its defense increases too, two of the same built at different leveled enigineers, the higher level building will have higher natural defense.
- Easy to Control/Responsive, In an RTS being able to command your forces and view the map is critical, while Original War does have hotkeys, you don't need to use them to be effective, you can play this game pretty decently with just the arrow keys, mouse and shift key, sure you might not be as fast as the pros and in multiplayer the experienced likely know how to group everything well with presses, But its nothing to worry about, in my opinion an RTS needs functionality in its hud and controls or it breaks apart. This has it and is easy to use.
- Speed up/Slow down bar, to counter the bad of the game being slow paced or being fed up of just watching your men do a slow walk from point A to point B and repeat, or even just the time it takes to do a certain building, research or vehicle you can speed the entire game up which saves time, you can also slow down the game speed too which is useful for doing those hard decisions in which unit to attack or even just to time the retreat just right for maximum damage to the enemy and minimal damage to your own forces.
The first two good things though are what really seal it though, its one of those things you have to see for yourself so you can understand, its very gripping, provided you don't mind doing a few reloads as you learn from mistakes. I guarantee it will happen.
For the things in middle.
- Soundtrack suits the factions and moments, but sadly they are short and repeat often, I don't mind it but I'm sure some may get annoyed with its frequent looping. I'd say its best music is the Main Menu music.
- While I said the voice acting isnt exactly the best, I do find it amusing in moments, its the type of bad that can make you laugh at times depending on your sense of humour.
- Similar to the soundtrack, sounds effects are also repeated over and over, its always the exact same gun fire sound and explosion for everything, again, this can be annoying if you want variety or don't like things being heard over and over, but to me anyway, they are decent enough to keep you satisfied, you know what the intention for each sound is and it works.
- American campaign cutscenes are nicely drawn in front of you as the protaganist talks to you, I think its a nice effect, the Russian ones are done much differently, while I like them too for the sake of them looking and feeling different for obvious reasons, the American ones are in my opinion better to observe just for the artistic touch.
- In game cutscenes are included too, but while I get some are nesscesary at times for moments in the game and to know what's happening, some of them are utterly pointless and waste your time doing something unnesscary, example, your given orders and told what to do, but instead of game just loading the next part, it decides to wait as you have to sit there and watch characters move out the map which you cant control or influence, and being the slow paced game it is, at times it can take awhile, nothing too big mind you, but it can be an irritancy to me.
Well I think I've ranted enough, but overall this is a really fun game and I do recommend picking it up and giving it a try at least, I believe it needs more respect than what it got, suire its my inner nostalgic child demanding that but seriously, the title is right, its certainly 'Original' in how it plays.