If Unity of Command is new to you then we should both be somewhat ashamed of ourselves. Me for not evangelising what I consider the most shamefully overlooked game of the last few years strongly enough and you for the sheer crime of missing out on it. I am going to assume that you haven’t played it – after all, those that have will have undoubtedly bought the DLC upon release and are far too busy launching offensives across Germany to bother reading this – so I suggest that before you read on you take a look at my original review of the game… don’t worry, I’ll wait.
The Red Turn DLC, which sees the Soviets taking the fight into the heartland of the Third Reich, adds far more to the game than just (and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way) the new 17 scenario Soviet campaign. There are new PvP specific scenarios, two standalone Axis scenarios, new units and specialist steps, and a new Scenario Editor for the modders amongst you. In short, it is a DLC as robust as the Tiger II tanks included within it.
The game’s focus on ensuring that your troops are adequately supplied has always been one of my favourite aspects, and a few scenarios in the latest campaign highlight this incredibly well. For example, the ‘Advance on Kiev’ scenario is largely a conflict not between yourself and the Axis forces but against logistics itself. Whilst far from futile, the German’s resistance is certainly minimal as they find themselves weakened, outnumbered and undergoing an almost constant retreat. But extend your frontline too quickly and you will find yourself unable to retain the objectives you already captured, yet alone successfully attack the others quickly enough to complete the scenario.
It is this feeling of being the stronger, strategically superior force that differentiates this DLC from much of the original Soviet campaign. Completing the objectives in time to gain the maximum amount of prestige is as challenging as ever – I have reloaded innumerable successful scenarios in search of absolute perfection – but the tone is more empowering and arguably slightly more enjoyable as a result. There are intimate conflicts where the limited space and allowed turns make every move potentially costly, there are large scale battles that require sacrifices for the sake of the grand strategy, and there are new units and specialist steps to deal with amidst all of this. It is a well paced 17 scenario campaign with the same high standards in terms of map design and historical accuracy that the base game provided. The new PvP and Allied scenarios are of a similar calibre, small additions that round out the package nicely.
Modding/Map Creation tools are, to me, one of the finest ways to ensure longevity with a game and Unity of Command now contains an accessible yet deep Scenario Editor. Choosing the constraints of your map, the objectives and which turns they should be taken on and the rest of the game’s elements is as simple as clicking an icon. Even someone as lazy as myself could cobble together a functional scenario within minutes. But there is also a commendable amount of depth here, cleverly generated from the underlying systems of the game rather than any real effort on the players part. Weather and terrain, for example, severely impact your movement and supply lines meaning that whilst they are simple options to set they can have far-reaching strategic consequences.
Technically the Scenario Editor isn’t part of this DLC, as any player with the new 1.04 update has access to it, but it is new and worthy of note. Another improvement since my review that I feel I should mention is the implementation of the much requested undo option. This has been very well done. Serving as more of a misclick safeguard than anything else, by only allowing you to undo your action if it was a movement command and not an attack, it ensures that the tension associated with each decision you make is retained.
Quite simply, Red Turn: Road to Berlin 1943-45 is DLC done right. It expands and improves upon the base game with new content that has been crafted to the same high standards and with the same impressive level of historical detail. 2×2 Games surprised me with the sheer quality of Unity of Command late last year, and they have ended 2012 in a similarly impressive fashion.
Giveaway Now Closed – Winner Announced Below
As always, we here at Just Press Start would like to thank you all for your entries. The winner has been randomly selected and, despite the Twitter RT entries outnumbering the comments 2 to 1, can be revealed as Dusko from the comments section.
I would like to once again thank the folks over at 2×2 Games for providing us with the codes and encourage those of you that didn’t win to buy the game – it is one of my personal favourites after all and could easily become one of yours.