War... war never... ends?
"Iron Storm" is great example of alternative history, which has qualitatively-performed details of "turning point" and aftermath Little portion of lore - it takes the real history of baron Nikolai Robert Max Baron von Ungern-Sternberg (in-game - baron Nikolai Aleksandrovitch Ugenberg) and uses it to turn story of First World war in another way - Revolution in Russian Empire was crushed, new regime smashed Deutsches Kaiserreich and was ready to reach shores of Atlantic. Entente was reformed to United States of Western Europe to resist new Russian-Mongolian Empire for fourty years. Endless war is source of capital - there's stock-market, which is functioning on weapon-trade, so every event in the warfront (and in the rear) affect on stock indexes. Investments, advertising - all of these become "gears of war"... or its fuel. Paradoxal sutuation, when even soldiers can make investments in company, which produces arsenal of their elimination.
Fabula of game's storyline is simple - Empire is ready to start produce fundamentally new type of weapon - not infantry weapon, but weapon of mass destruction (closer to game's final it can be identified as nuclear)
. Main character, as veteran of this war (fighting practically for 21 years) and professional commando, get order to destroy manufacture of this weapon and get its sample. So, lieutenant Anderson must pass frontlines and reach military object in the deep of enemies rearward.
First World war in 1964 is kilometers of trenches, crossing former Reich and full of infantry with semi-automatic and full-auto weapon, hunting snipers, pillboxes with machinguns, roaring artillery, barraging helicopters and crawling tanks. And infiltration behind enemy lines means breaches through trenches, assaults of heavy-guarded positions, cleaning of bunkers, hide-and-seek with heli's and assymetric duels with awkward tanks.
In gameplay-terms that means variety - variety of situations, which we can solve with variety of arsenal - technical progress of this war help us to react on all types of threats, using knife or silenced pistole for careless soldiers, automatic rifle and trench-gun for CQC, semi-automatic rifle or sniper rifle for long range contacts, RPG's for war machines and sorts of special weapon and grenades for special situations (as tribute to essence of real WWI here exist grenades with mustard gas). Role of commando helps player to meet face to all faces of this war. And this role obliges him to be careful too - enemy is dangerous and even one soldier (and even cook!) can kill you, if you're not ready to kill him - you must be ready to shoot, cover, find ways to victory. Game uses health-system, but there're enough amount of medkits to not turn game in S/L-carousel.
There're different quasi-realistic details, that pretty good work for game's atmosphere - first of all, that's one of games, where you can see your body in FPS-mode - trifle, but pleasant trifle! Furthermore, inventory of character is not a black hole, where player can hide crate of machineguns and pair of RPG's - it consists of knife, pistol (silenced or machine-), trenchgun, sniper rifle and sort of heavy weapon (automatic/semi-automatic rifle, heavy machinegun or RPG/grenade launcher). And you can see all arsenal on model of your character - behind back, on hip, in holster and scabbard. Health-system is simple, without delineation of damage, but it's compensated by ability of your enemies to bring that damage. Well, abilities of enemies - their AI - are good. That's no level of "F.E.A.R.", for sure, but they can suppress you with fire, use grenades, retreat and cover.
Returning to the storyline as part of game - well, this is game of great atmosphere. Little dialogues of soldiers, that can uncover some sides of life in the world of endless war, transmitters with TV-broadcasting, that help to understand situation around you, terminals with orders, cautions or diaries... all of that make "Iron Storm" not just simple meat-shooter, but ticket to another world with it own life. And yeah, separate gratitude to developers for game's sound! When they had given voices to game's characters, they used authentic languages, so soldiers of Ugenberg's Empire speak on good russian and deutsch - there're no grammar or context mistakes, no accent. What about ambient sound - exploding shells, echo of gunfire - well, there're no problems.
Simple fabula of storyline will blossom with few intriguing twists. And yes, what I said about variety of in-game situations, means variety of game locations too. It's not only about trenches and bunkers (despite of fact, that these trenches are good made) - there are streets of german town, large scientific complex, wagons of armored train and... something more. Somebody can call them linear, but there's fact, that often enough you must find way to your goal, trying different variants.
Well, it looks, that I must draw a line to all this massive of different objective and subjective facts. "Iron Storm" feels differently: there are rough of fire contacts, cold of silent slicing of enemy's throat, rage of machine gun fire, fear of meeting with steel beasts - and of all of these is mixed of joy, which is called by delicious execution. It's game of great story, that gives you opportunity to breathe smoke of fire, devouring world, which could be our world.
At least, this is game, where you can meet face to face with german sturmpioneers, siberian elite specialists or heavy tank UG-III - and win.