- Developer: Best Way / Digitalmindsoft
- Publisher: 1C Company
- Release Date: 1 November 2009
- Platform: PC
- Genre: First-person shooter
- Date Completed: 21 June 2020
So my relationship with Men of War actually spans a long way back. When I was younger I used to try and run the original Men of War game off of an old Acer computer we had in our house and it used to struggle. I then made some really rubbish levels in GEM editor and tried (and failed) to get the skirmish campaign mods working. I even made a mod for Assault Squad called “Liberté” which was actually reasonably well received, but I have since taken it down as I didn’t have time to fix people’s concerns.
I decided not to start with the original Men of War though but to give Red Tide a go as I purchased this and then have literally never touched it again. This particular game is about Soviet sailors and the role that they played and I have seen through the GEM editor that this actually contains some pretty cool units. There is also only one currently recorded completion for this game (at time of writing) and that was about 60-something hours, so I’m interested to see if I can beat that.
I purchased this game on 28 August 2014 (which was my birthday!) and so I have managed to not even start this game for almost six years of ownership. It’s going to be a good feeling to tick this one off.
Session 1: Odessa Must Be Ours – Baptism of Fire
Time: 2hr 7m
This was an incredibly long session, not helped by the fact I actually failed the mission after trying to advance for 40 minutes. I think one thing that I was not anticipating with Red Tide was that it uses the old camera system and you don’t get reinforcements in the same way as you do in the newer Assault Squad games.
Interesting to see Romanian units in the first missions, as this was not something I’ve encountered in any other WW2 game and have only seen in Men of War through mods before. The Romanian soldiers are so much better equipped that the players units as the Soviet soldiers seem to spawn with little to no ammo and basically no AT grenades… so scavenging dead soldiers inventories became a must (and was a reason I took so long to beat this).
Session 2: Odessa Must Be Ours – Thunderstrike
Time: 1hr 22m (3hr 29m)
So one thing that is already alarmingly clear is that the difficulties that I’m having with navigating the camera controls are going to really require me to change things up. I need to re-bind things at some stage so that I feel more comfortable with the controls. Potentially even WASD or something.
Anyway this mission was tough as nails, so I’ve decided to change to the ‘Easy’ difficulty as I do also want to have fun playing this game and not just constantly fail time and time again. Managed to get through this mission thanks to an incredibly brave BA-10 which fought diligently killing basically all of the enemy infantry that we faced.
Coming from an Assault Squad background means I’m having to realise something about early MoW games… you have to use Direct Control way more to ensure that things don’t just get killed. This applies to infantry units too, the AI just cannot be trusted not to screw it up.
Session 3: Odessa Must Be Ours – Never Again!
Time: 1hr 22m (4hr 52m)
Now the change in difficulty is definitely allowing me to have way more fun with this game. Like I can feel that it’s probably too easy at this stage, but I’m enjoying it and to me that means a lot more. I must say there were a couple of things that helped in this session that weren’t just the change in difficulty.
Firstly, the map itself was actually way more interesting. A mixture of urban, woodland and shoreline combat. There were more interesting vehicles on this map and honestly it was just much less “kill all the things” than the previous mission. Secondly, I started listening to a playlist on Deezer in the background whilst playing, which was recommended to me by a friend and honestly that helped a lot. Takes a lot of the mind numbing sounds of the guns being fired away and helps time pass.
The charge at the end of this mission was also epic! A great way to round off the “Odessa Must Be Ours” campaign! Now I guess it’s onto what comes next, which I guess won’t be against such soft Romanian AIs.
Session 4: The Crimean Offensive – A Handful of Bullets and Theodosia (The Opening)
Time: 1hr 18m (6hr 11m)
So I actually managed to complete two missions this time! Mainly helped by the fact that mission one was a very short defence mission (although still very fun). I actually failed it the first time as the medical truck was destroyed by a shot fired about 1 second before my BA-7 destroyed the Stug causing the issues. Alas, I filled my flanks with more men, used a bit more direct control and it went much better.
The second mission was actually amazing. It was a port invasion where you had to clear the piers of enemies, using a range of troops including snipers. Then clear the rest of the port from enemies whilst the Soviet ships were raining hell on the enemy. Just a really cool use to friendly AI and building up from 1v1 combat to a much wider scale defence and a final offensive. Probably my favourite mission so far. I thought I’d leave my stats below this time as I was happy with managing to lose only 10% of the enemy losses. None of the vehicle losses were mine and about 8 men were mine. Really fun mission all around.
Session 5: The Crimean Offensive – Theodosia (Endgame)
Time: 1hr 33m (7hr 45m)
Welp, this session didn’t have the best of starts… it crashed about 25 minutes in, which I predict was something to do with me calling in artillery as it happened almost immediately after an explosion.
I also ended up taking forever on this mission mainly due to my men getting stuck at sea and having to micromanage them. A brilliant albeit slow advance along the flanks to allow my two army groups to link up was foiled by the enemy artillery position, which proved very challenging to take in the end and is certainly something to try and kill off early if you can. Fun mission though, although I wish this campaign would be over soon! I only say that because these port missions are super fun but they’re beginning to make me want to attack / defend somewhere else. The enemy AI flocks to buildings, which usually means flattening them with artillery here.
Session 6: The Crimean Offensive – The Key to Kerch
Time: 1hr 31m (9hr 17m)
My hopes and dreams that this was the last mission in The Crimean Offensive campaign were short lived as at the end of this session I have seen that there is indeed another mission. This one however was a total change of pace, focusing on open fields and a small village, although it was quite frustrating that the classic Men of War tactics were used by the developers by just giving the enemy lots of artillery.
One story that was absolutely epic from this session was my single AT trooper who managed to disable 2 MG towers, two infantry guns and indeed a howitzer all single-handedly whilst most teammates around simply died to a tank that was unable to move due to failed attempts at throwing AT grenades. This is one of the things I really love about this game though, that you can just have this mini stories within the missions that you create yourself. Each inch of territory gained comes at some kind of cost and it makes it gut wrenching when you lose an infantryman or a vehicle that has helped to seize a flank or strategic position.
Session 7: The Crimean Offensive – Special Unit Paratroopers
Time: 42m (9hr 59m)
Thought that I’d get another quick mission done and this was almost that. I must admit this mission couldn’t start off any worse if it tried. You basically get told that the plane has crashed and that you need to get to shore. One bullet against the boat will cause it to explode so that you have to swim to shore.
I got some resistance fighters here though and used them in order to Direct Control and attack both of the flanks, which was actually incredibly fun. Seizing a German AA gun in order to destroy a number of tanks and gun installations is always a Men of War classic feeling. I did have a fail half way through this one as it did the stupid thing where one particular person is not allowed to die and he did. So I sent him to hide in a corner of the village where there were no friendly or enemy AI for the entire mission.
This campaign still isn’t over, but I cheated and looked in Localisation.pak which shows me that campaigns 2 and 3 have 6 missions and so the next mission is actually the last one in the campaign. So we’re 8 missions down, 14 to go!
Session 8: The Crimean Offensive – The Fall of the 42nd Corps and Manstein’s Big Guns – Behind Enemy Lines
Time: 2hr 9m (12hr 8m)
This was a long session and really much longer than I had even intended to play today. However, these two missions could not have been more different. In the Fall of the 42nd Corps, we see a daytime raid where basically everything is a race against the clock in order to secure enemy documents and stop them from fleeing. I had an excellent time off picking off enemies on the outside of their main lines before the chaos commenced once the enemy had been alerted to my position. I’ve added a picture below of one of my soldiers attacking an enemy church.
The next mission is what managed to take up the vast majority of my time in this session. I’ve posted in the last two parts that I cannot wait for The Crimean Offensive campaign to be over but so far I am enjoying Manstein’s Big Guns even less. The first mission involves attacking an airfield, however the enemy has a massive range of tanks, very fast armoured cars, AA guns, MG positions and halftracks. The base goes crazy each time you kill someone. If I was allowed to use all my troops properly I think this would have been more fun. However THREE of the eight people you are given are not allowed to die under any circumstances or it’s an instant mission failure. Pretty rough stuff.
Session 9: Manstein’s Big Guns – Paid in Blood
Time: 1hr 0m (13hr 9m)
This was a really odd mission, involving a very low number of soldiers, but because of that, I managed to get a pretty good story about one soldier in particular, Viktor Novitskiy. He was a sniper under my command who ended up being the only person that could do most of what needed doing. He eliminated countless enemy troops with his rifle, but also destroyed two tanks undetected in order to help us clear the village and for friendly troops to escape.
The most devastating moment of this for me was an unfortunate miscalculation about how much cover the terrain would provide resulting in the loss of a Resistance Fighter who was about to clear the way for the Soviet troops to escape! I am really getting way more invested in this game once you start giving the soldiers their own little backstories. It’s kind of nice in a way. Next mission will be mad, I can already tell as it involves train convoys and lots of tanks.
Session 10: Manstein’s Big Guns – Chasing Bruno
Time: 45m (13hr 55m)
So this was an absolutely crazy mission and again I lost both resistance fighters in utterly unfortunate circumstances, but I was proud of them for seizing a German anti-tank gun and destroying at least 3 armoured cars that would have otherwise pulverised my infantry.
My scout was however the star of the show. Destroyed the German train artillery, then seized the train AA gun and used it to destroy a number of vehicles, disabled two German Anti-tank guns. Then moved in and killed the enemies in the warehouse area, lays down mines on the train tracks, then manages to steal an Opel Blitz, move an anti-tank gun into the path of an enemy convoy, destroy 4 enemy tanks with AT grenades all before dying to an unfortunate MG shot to the head from an advancing tank.
I was gutted I didn’t manage to get a screenshot from this session as this was genuinely a super fun mission. I think this campaign has been a mixed bag so far, but the next mission promises to be good as it includes one of the unique units in this game!
Session 11: Manstein’s Big Guns – Judgement Day for the 688th and The Attack on Captain Mimbelli
Time: 1hr 30m (15hr 25m)
Woah, the 11th session in this playthough! It has actually gone really fast and looking back I was so critical on this game at the start but the more I get into it the more hyped I get to see what’s coming next. I decided to celebrate this momentous occasion that I would play two missions instead of one! Partly also because I know that the lockdown in the UK over COVID-19 is coming to an end soon, so my time to actually finish this game is limited.
The first mission involved the Rail Gun “Bruno” which is a famous German artillery piece from the second world war. The mission itself was oddly easy, and I honestly think that this was because the AI was set to advance rather than to hold positions. Let me explain. If I killed one soldier, the entire enemy front would advance to the source of the shot, therefore in some cases allowing an entire squadron to be gunned down by my tanks.
The heroes of this mission were Vasily Kuashenkin, who is a radio operator that managed to destroy the Anti-Aircraft weapons, steal the maps of the enemy positions and even to destroy “Bruno”. The two resistance fighters were however the most important people in this. They started the mission off by stealing a tank and used that to destroy a lot of enemy infantry, then stole a halftrack to disable a few enemy positions and then destroyed the turret of a B1-Bis tank, allowing it to be repaired and captured so that remaining enemy forces could be eliminated. An awesome mission overall.
The Attack of Captain Mimbelli was interesting. A night assault on Italian and German joint forces, meaning we’ve now faced Romanians, Germans and Italians in this game. Capturing the coastal guns was fun and honestly I just used the squad’s sniper to eliminate all of the machine gunners in this map and that basically enabled me to not have to worry much about the rest of the squad dying. This mission only took me about half the time of the one before it too! Only one more mission to go in this campaign and it’s all done!
Session 12: Manstein’s Big Guns – Lt. Federov’s Response to Breaching the Blue Line – Neptune’s Broken Trident
Time: 2hr 2m (17hr 28m)
This is the most progress I’ve made in a single session of this game, completing four missions in the end and now we’re closing in on the later stages of the game. So firstly and foremost, the end of Manstein’s Big Guns was at a naval base fighting Italian units and was a fun mission. Although at one stage I had to force my squad to retreat through the base so that I could get a Romanian tank to come into range of my AA gun. The inclusion of naval units just makes me realise that they were really never intended for this engine and have sort of been bolted on in order to fit the storyline of the game.
Tanks in Action was the first mission of Breaching the Blue Line and was a totally different pace of mission, scale of combat and really just overall much more wide than the previous campaign had been. In this mission I relied a lot of stealing enemy guns and at one stage managed to force my infantry through a minefield on just pure trial and error.
The Dash to Kunikov was also a good mission that required a lot of awareness about where your forces were as the enemy came from behind you at one stage in the mission. My favourite part of this mission however (well in terms of actual gameplay) was trying to use one single solider to break through the enemy lines in order to make contact with Major Kunikov. The actual best part of that Major Kunikov himself has quite possibly the worst voice actor that I have so far encountered in this game, which is saying something as 1C titles always set the bar incredibly low for this.
The final mission I played almost took up half the session and genuinely included a couple of fails. First thing to note is that you get to play as Leonid Brezhnev, who would eventually become the Soviet Premier in real life from 1964 to 1982. This mission was mainly challenging as Brezhnev kept randomly dying, so I decided that I was going to hide him at the back of the map. This mission then after an incredibly long defence becomes about attacking the enemy who have an absurd number of tanks, but some strategic howitzer theft allowed me to destroy them all relatively easily.
To give an indication of how long there is to go, based on the Localisation.pak file there is one more mission in this campaign, two in the following campaign and one in the final campaign. However, I have no idea how long these missions will be, but I anticipate at this stage that this will be completed in under 25 hours.
Session 13: Breaching the Blue Line – Gun, Grenade and Bayonet
Time: 1hr 23m (18hr 51m)
This mission was intense. The first part of the mission took so long mainly out of frustration more than anything else. The boats and landing craft do not work well and their implementation in this game has in previous missions meant that many of my units just get stuck in the water and unable to get to any sort of land, rendering them useless throughout.
Both parts of this mission take place in a giant port. With the first half of the mission focusing on the original landings and securing a beach head and the second focusing on ever so slowly pushing back against heavily fortified enemy positions.
The second part of the mission was better, but this was basically about taking out enemy artillery positions (as most Men of War large scale missions tend to be) and therefore the actual infantry combat was somewhat limited and the tank combat tended to be from extreme range against artillery pieces. I did enjoy however attacking the enemy headquarters and factory. Some other objectives were just more cumbersome than anything else.
It’s good to see this campaign over in all honesty…
Session 14: Company of Heroes – Backstabbing Hollidt and The Fall of Stronghold Nikolaev
Time: 2hr 1m (20hr 52m)
So after a long period of about a month where I was preparing for my return to work and dealing with exams I am finally back playing this game! I actually got a new keyboard and mouse since then and this is actually really helpful for this playthrough as I now have macro buttons I can use for some of the game’s key functions.
The first mission on this was actually quite cool. The mission firstly involves you taking a port with infantry and clearing the seafront. Then you are tasked with preparing 10 minutes preparing your defences with some mines left behind by the previous occupiers. I must admit the enemy does come through in a varied and surprising way which actually makes for a good fight. The game starts introducing some heavier tanks including Panthers just to keep you on your toes. After I lost a number of artillery pieces, I simply commandeered an enemy Panther in order to use this to bulk up my defences.
The next mission is a mixed bag and honestly felt a little bit more tedious than the first to me. Just something about the whole only having two infantry soldiers to fight Flak 88’s and an Elefant tank which was incredibly challenging to destroy. Once the battle opened up a bit more in the second half it did get more enjoyable, but you have to work for it. The AI’s advance is also quite slow as any infantry or fixed gun will slow them to a halt for some time.
At least that’s another campaign over. Now from memory there is only one mission left in the entire game and so hopefully I can beat my target time of beating this within a total of 24 hours. We will definitely be the fastest playthrough as the other one on HowLongToBeat is currently 59hrs.
Session 15: Reclaiming the Black Sea – Into the Lair of the Kreigsmarine
Time: 1hr 6m (21hr 58m)
Well. I cannot believe that this game is finally coming to an end. I started this playthrough more than a month ago and tried my best to prioritise this over the other series that I had ongoing at the same time but it has taken a fair while. So how on Earth will this adventure end?
The answer to that is disappointing. This mission has so many bugs with it and most are to do with the Romanian troops. In some instances they not only cannot be killed by German infantry but also cannot kill other enemy infantry. They seem to switch sides without it actually make any sense and the mission itself feels like they were just trying to do something slightly quirky to end the game. The whole “you’ve got to kill all enemies at X before they destroy Y” thing was boring after a while because it was mostly luck based or got scuppered by things like the soldiers not being able to kill things bug I mentioned a moment ago.
However, it would be unfair to let a very poor final mission put a stain on an otherwise good game. This is a Men of War game that tried to incorporate things that others had not at this stage in the series past. In fact, I found it to be one of the better Men of War games in terms of its variety between large and small battles as well as types of combat. But alas, it’s over. We’re done here.
Game beat in 21 hours and 58 minutes. Check out my entry on HowLongToBeat HERE.
Men of War: Red Tide takes a slightly different approach to the original Men of War as it remains focused on one particular WW2 front and tries to create variation through its varied combat, weapons and vehicles. I think that it does a fairly good job of this, with there being a tonne more nations and vehicles to play around with. The campaign also does a good job of varying the missions in terms of scale and also play style to keep things interesting. However that doesn’t mean that the game is free of all issues.
I got nearly 22 hours out of this game of actual playing time (the rest of the time on Steam was accidentally idling in the menu) and honestly that’s pretty good considering how cheap this game usually is on Steam. For that reason I’d recommend picking it up. If you like the hardcore element, honestly Normal difficulty should be enough to keep you happy as the game can be unforgiving, however if you want a fun challenge, ‘Easy’ is still a fun and challenging way to play the game.
The controls need to really be configured and I’d recommend doing this as soon as you start the game as the default control scheme is quite clunky and jarring. I think my main criticism is the camera, which is a long standing issue in the GEM engine that this is based on. This is because the game encourages ‘Direct Control’ mode, which is great and lets you control any individual soldier, vehicle or artillery piece, however the camera doesn’t move with the solider and needs constant adjustment, making it a challenge to use this on some maps.
Yes, the obvious critique is that the graphics are a little outdated and the voice acting is poor however I think that the variety and intricacy of the game itself totally outweighs that. It’s a fun game and a really good way to learn about a WW2 battle that often isn’t spoken about much in the west. I can’t speak for the multiplayer as I haven’t played it, but there’s more than enough single player content in this game to keep most people occupied for some time!