Vietnam War is probably one of the most iconic and famous wars of all the time (both for the good and the worst). They made lots of movies and games around it: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, We Were Soldiers among the movies and Vietnam, Rising Storm 2, Battlefield Bad Company, Man of Valor, ArmA 3 mods among the games.
And now this Radio Commander.
Radio Commander puts you in the shoes of a… commander that, from his tent placed in the HQ, must direct and support the soldiers on the field using just the radio (and a map).
The gameplay is a strange mesh between a strategy game and a story-driven game.
Actually, there isn’t a proper ‘story’ in the campaign mode. Before every mission, we’ll view a cutscene, very well made, that will establish the theme (and some characters) then we can find ourselves in the tent, in front of a map and a radio.
As soon as we’ll turn on the radio, the scenario begins and our fellow troops will start communicating with us (position, morale, simple chit-chats,…) not just with the written text, the whole game has the voice acting. There are two communication types: the free and the mandatory one. Sometimes the action will force us to decide between two or more answers. There’s a moment in one of the first missions were we must choose between sending a medic to help one of our helicopter crew hit by the enemy and we can choose if the full platoon will escort the med or just two grunts.
Apart from these specific moments, we’ll be free to give orders to every allied in the field. We can ask for information like positions, contacts, status or order them to move to a specific point, engage the enemy in sight, retreat.Watch Recruit! When I give you the word… #blindrun from Lukather77 on www.twitch.tv
The peculiarity of Radio Commander is the map and how we track the movements of all the actors involved in the mission (enemy and allies). There is no automatic movement track, and we constantly need to ask for positions to update it in the map, moving the tokens around using coordinates. There are some issues in order execution; the ‘engage’ one, for example, is not clear how it works. If the platoon is high-ground and spots an enemy below them, giving the engage order will send them forward, so it’s more an assault than an engaging command.
There’s a great tension during the game, waiting for an answer from our brothers in Arms with the clock ticking is something that makes this game superb.
I can’t say the same regarding the UI that feels clunky and not refined. It’s difficult to stack the tokens, the menu to add new tokens is a bit ‘simple’, you can’t cancel an order and, if you mistakenly press the spacebar (that is the way to give an order) there isn’t a way to amend the gesture and stop the action (or at least I didn’t find it) and often renaming the token, I inadvertently deleted it.
Despite the gameplay and UI issues, I still can recommend this title thanks to its peculiar and unique approach to the genre, the voice-acting is great and it helps to raise the tension but beware the more-of-the-same effect after 4 or 5 missions.
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