One of the most fun and conceptually interesting RTS games I've ever played. It's an Original War in more than name.The Good Things:
Good mix of RTS and RPG mechanics. Humans are a limited resource, they do not respawn and you do not receive more than you start with. Each character can gain experience in 4 classes and can change between classes at any time in the appropriate building, retaining his experience. Some things (construction, vehicles, turrets) can be automated, removing the need for a human pilot, but computer-controlled entities are slower, shabbier and do a lot less damage than those controlled by a skilled human operator. You must always find a balance between risking irrepleaceable human staff and wasting resources on suboptimal AI control.
As far as vehicles go, you build your own by mixing together a chassis, engine, pilot (can be manual, remote or AI) and weapon. New components are made available by researching them and/or building addons for a vehicle factory, each of which can only accomodate five - and all factions have at least six possible addons that can be mixed and matched. While higher tech components are generally more powerful than lower tech ones, they never render the low tech ones truly obsolete, by virtue of costing more, taking longer to build and being more specialized (e.g. heavier vehicle turrets cannot rotate unlike lighter ones).
The game is in isometric 2D, but the terrain obeys the rules of 3D in a way no later games did - unit vision works as "rays" instead of a radius, trees and rocks obscure vision, units on high ground see and fire further, soldiers can go prone in tall grass to become virtually invisible, etc.
Terrain layout, elevation, trees have a real impact on gameplay. Infantry uses it as cover and to avoid vehicles, vehicles require a tracked chassis to ascend slopes, and the most powerful vehicle in the game is balanced by being too huge to climb a hill.
The two campaigns are long, varied and challenging. If you go for all bonus objectives on the highest difficulty, there's easily at least 60 hours of gameplay (though I clocked 120 due to leaving the game running in the background a lot). The American campaign is the best one, having a good story and characters.The Bad Things:
The sound effects are bland and lack variety. There is only one sound effect for most actions.
The voice acting in the Russian campaign ranges from mediocre to terrible. This is specific to the English version only - the Polish and Czech versions actually have very good voice acting.
The Russian campaign feels drawn out and padded at times, and the Russian part of the story feels disjointed.
There is no campaign for the third faction (Arabs). You get many glimpses of clearly important Arab characters and see echoes of their ventures happening offscreen, but the campaign that was supposed to explore them in detail was never added since the publisher went bankrupt.
There is no skirmish for the same reason as above.