Frustrating gameplay, bad graphics, and a careless regard for historical detail make Will of Steel a trying experience.
- Some destructible environments, but that's about it.
- Frustrating gameplay
- Horrible pathfinding
- Only 16 single-player missions
- Bland graphics
- Voice recognition a gimmick.
Will of Steel is aptly named, and that's because you'll need a will of steel to get through this lame real-time strategy game about the war on terror. There are so many problems with Will of Steel that it's hard to know where to begin in terms of describing them, but trust us when we say to spare yourself the frustration and avoid this decidedly lackluster game.
Will of Steel features only two single-player campaigns--one set during Afghanistan in 2001 and the other in Iraq in 2003--and both are equally crummy. It's one thing to take liberties with historical facts for gameplay's sake (and many games do), but the campaigns in Will of Steel don't even resemble reality. Despite the fact that the Afghan campaign was pretty much fought by proxy by enlisting Afghanistan warlords to the US cause, the way Will of Steel tells it, the US wages the war with ill-equipped Marine forces battling superior Taliban armies. For example, the Marines in Will of Steel are equipped with weapon systems that have been retired for almost a decade, such as M-60 Patton and M-551 Sheridan tanks. Not that it matters, though, because modern-day armor wouldn't fare any better thanks to the screwed-up weapon balancing that results in infantrymen dishing out far more damage than tanks and other vehicles. Just watch as a single rocket-propelled grenade-toting Taliban unloads a dozen warheads in the time it takes a tank to reload its main gun, and you'll discover the meaning of frustration.
To make things even worse, Will of Steel features brain-dead artificial intelligence and pathfinding, which means that you have to handhold your units constantly to avoid pileups. And even then you'll watch as half of your force arrives at the destination only to get chewed up, while the other half manages to jam itself onto various pieces of terrain, like mountains. The game tries to incorporate some depth, as there are tactical controls, as well as various unit statistics to keep track of, but they're all worthless when it can't even get the basics down right. Plus, you're far too busy trying to get units to untangle to worry about formation controls. But wait, it gets worse. There is no save-game functionality, which means that you've got to start each mission over from scratch each time something goes wrong, and trust us when we say things go wrong far more than they go right in this game. It's so bad that we found that the best way to get through missions is simply to control just one or two units and slowly inch across the map, repairing all the time. It's a grindingly slow and painful pace that's not that much fun. Meanwhile, the game's built-in voice recognition system, which allows you to give verbal commands, is just a gimmick for the most part. While the system does let you quickly select specific types of units, such as engineers, you still have to interact with your keyboard heavily in order to give out orders.
The mission design isn't any better, or any more logical. Despite the fact that the US has detailed, satellite-generated maps of every inch of the planet in case it has to invade a country (not to mention complete control of the air, so it has a bird's-eye view of everything), your minimap is just a plain black grid, so you have no idea what the battlefield looks like until you uncover the fog of war. And speaking of the fog of war, your units can't see anything more than 40 yards away from them, so they'll stumble into ambushes left and right simply because you can't see the enemy. And good luck trying to zoom out, as the camera can't pull back any decent distance, so you're unable to get a big picture of the surrounding area. Even worse, helicopter units literally fill up about a third of the screen because you can't pull the camera back any farther.
Even though the game touts its "stunning" graphical effects, Will of Steel is decidedly lackluster in appearance. It simply looks dated in comparison to modern games. There are a couple of nice effects, such as partially distributable environments, but units and buildings are blocky in appearance, textures are murky and muddled, and there's an overall level of blandness. The environments are plain and not very detailed, and everything looks crude. And since you can't pull the camera back, these dull visuals are in your face the entire time. The music sounds like someone's garage band riffing too much on the guitar solos, the sound effects are average, and the voice-overs are bad.
Will of Steel lacks any sort of multiplayer component, so once you're through the game's 16 missions, it's the end of gameplay. Those 16 missions won't take you that long (say about 10 hours), even with the lack of a save-game feature. But those 10 hours aren't going to be much fun, as you'll spend a lot of time yelling in frustration at seeing elite troops run around in circles and get stuck on mountains, while multimillion-dollar tanks are chewed up by a single guy with an RPG. Yes, Will of Steel tries, and it shows some heart, but there are simply so many other better real-time strategy games out there. And if you want to play around with modern military equipment, we suggest you try any of them over this.