This is a guest review by Ludovic Mercier
When I was offered to review Officers, a game only recently released here in the west after having existed for 3 years in Russia I have to admit I was actually curious. On one hand, the game cover really didn't seem that much inspiring to me, feeling bland at best with these photos of actors dressed in obviously fake uniforms. On the other, if there's something life taught me, it's not to judge a book by it's cover, and that is something that often applied to many games. So, as soon as I received the game, I went to test it out to see if it was a book that should have been judged by it's cover or not. To call this game a bit of a mixed bag would probably be quite an understatement in my opinion. Though technically not a bad game, Officers is still far from greatness, and even for a game 3 years in age it has done some faults for which there is very little excuses.
So let's dissect what the game does good, and what is preventing it from being a great game.
The story is one we all know since years, having seen it before in an hundred of other games. It begins with a landing at omaha beach in 1944, followed toward a long push to Germany as parts of the events leading toward the end of WW2. As far as story goes, there isn't that much that's new to people familiar with WW2 history and the era as a gaming genre. It is a story we all have heard by then, so there is very little much to be said in retelling it beyond mentioning that the campaign starts with operation Overlord, continue with Caen (operation Cobra) and more as you edge closer to Germany with each mission (each almost self-contained campaign on their own right with their length).
However, despite it being a "tale" we all know, the presentation of it is relatively lacking in it's own right as each operation is presented only through soundless text boxes with small in-game movies without any spoken narratives whatsoever. However, considering the game's voice acting in general (more on that later), this might be a blessing in disguise.
Let's begin by saying this is very much a grand scale strategy game. Maps aren't merely one or two square miles in size (as can be seen in some game's biggest maps) but easily as big as 25 square miles in size. Just writing it out like this does very little justice to the sheer scale at which this game plays. And this battlefield can easily have more than 1500 units active all over it. This is as big as it goes, and it is immense as a playing field indeed.
But that's just the general presentation. Now let's go a bit more in details, shall we?
Maps, as said, are 25-square mile large things. However, in the campaign at least (I'll talk about multiplayer in a separate section), each map is divided in a certain number of large "strategic sectors" (usually six), marked by the presence of an airbase, factory or town and so on. Capturing all of these strategic location is the goal of a map, upon which you win. At the same time, capturing one will give you access to it's resources (food, ammo, fuel) which is then used to maintain the units you call in.
And note the word: maintenance. You don't purchase units with resources. Rather, you have a limited amount of units you can ever call on, sometimes resplenished as you complete various objectives, but once you have run out of reinforcement reserves you lost the game.
Resources, in this case is a matter of maintenance as every unit spawns with a limited amount of ammo, fuel or food (depending if we're talking about infantry or vehicles), that usually decreases with use or (for food, for an example) when you are in enemy territory. For an example, if an infantry unit doesn't have food any more, it will slowly lose food. As such, purchasing units in a given strategic territory will decrease that territory's supplies, in which case you might then want to set up a supply line to move supplies from a territory far from the front to one closer to it to avoid running our of supplies. Once that is set up, supply trucks will start going from one strategic location to the other until the transfer is complete... though that means a clever player could set-up ambushes on known supply lines to disrupt enemy supply movement.
This sounds pretty nice on paper, but simply said, I have rarely fell on a supply line that was ever attacked and supplies themselves tends to be so abundant that I generally never hit anything close to a "supply crisis". Really, if you are starting to lack supplies in all of your territories, there is a question to be asked about your skill level.
Also, on top of the large strategic locations, strategic sectors will often sport a ton of mini-objectives to complete for added bonuses. This could be a windmill that is used by the enemy to house an artillery transmitter (which, upon clearing the enemy presence, gives you more uses of artillery), it can be an enemy presence in a forested area of a supply line which when cleared to give you more supplies in that sector... a bundle of minor tactical objectives which while not essential for victory can help turn the tide in your favour once completed.
This looks nice, and it kinda is. So let's go about how you tackle these objectives or rather, what you tackle them with and how you use those: your units.