Game Review: Theatre of War 3: Korea

Exit World War II and turn to the next major conflict Korea, 1C Company and Battlefront release their next real time strategy war game but without many leaps forward for the genre or in this series.

Graphics & Audio: 18/25,
Gameplay: 16/25,
Creativity 14/25,
Fun 18/25

Total: 66/100

1C Company and Battlefront have released their next Theatre of War series of real time strategy games based not in World War II but now hitting the Korean conflict of the 1950’s. We have a change in uniforms, a slight change in weapons and some new equipment but not much has changed from the previous Theatre of War game.

The real time strategy game is a real niche gaming genre for many and is interesting in its own way but things are a bit more complicated for us armchair generals. While the second Theatre of War release was not all it could be the franchise has been slowly slipping and falling in quality.

Theatre of War 3: Korea does not change the game in basic concept or interface from the first or second release but it does change the pieces in a notable fashion. You do have a slightly updated war machine with a few new pieces of equipment, most notably a helicopter but the general game play and feel is the same.

Theatre of War 3: Korea has a slight change to the main structure as well as allowing you a strategy type board game where you decide whether to attack province by province or stay and fight on your home turf for each turn of the game. You can start with the tutorials which will give you general controls, camera movements and other features then it’s off to war.

Your game is hindered by only including nine maps so once you get the nine maps conquered you have things pretty much smoothed out for the entire campaign. You start the campaign by a turn based overview of South Korea and your little corner of the action with one province under your control.

You are also given a small army to choose from when it comes time to fight so you either move your troops to another province or stay put and defend against invasion. The games general play starts with your Order of Battle and then Deploy before the fighting is the same as the previous ones in the series.

During the Order of Battle you have a menu bar of choices in troops, equipment and weapons to choose from for your main army and reinforcements. Once you fill the slots by type and your choices for reinforcements you move to the war field and your deployment.

You can move troops and weapons around as well as assign them to number keys by groups for easy control in the fighting, you can also get ready for mounting troops into trucks and helicopters as well as having trucks near towable equipment. Once the war starts after the deployment enemy troops will start their moves and you can either wait for the enemy or work on your assault.

Some troops can enter trucks and helicopters while some of the equipment like an antiaircraft weapon and artillery can be towed while a few like mortar teams cannot do either. Finding out these little quirks can be a game changer as having mortar squads walk across half a map to get into position for a good shelling takes a long time.

Little tidbits like what troops can enter which vehicles and which towable equipment can be used with what trucks would be handy to know in the Order of Battle phase of the game but after a while you get to know these by heart. The games manual helps some with this but does not have enough detail to be of much use in the game for most of this information.

Gameplay is simple by moving troops, designating areas of coverage or just waiting for enemies and letting the AI control everything. You can redirect fire of individuals or concentrate groups on certain targets as well as order units to move for flanking maneuvers or to cover different areas of combat.

The game has not changed all that much from the previous release and even with the introduction of helicopters to be able to rapidly deploy troops to remote areas for flanking does not make a game changing tactic. The game feels too much like the previous version and has, it seems to me, all the same quirks, problems and great features.

There is a lot of things that work well but other things that seem too familiar and been there and done that to make this much of a new release. Graphics and detail are great, well up to the same standards the series is known for but things have not changed from the previous release.

I was pretty excited about Theatre of War 3 and was looking forward to the next big release from 1C Company and Battlefront but this seemed too much like a reboot of the second version. Battlefront and 1C Company really needs to rewrite history, or at least how they are doing things in order to keep the genre exciting and worth a look for their next release.

If you’re a serious fan of real time strategy games Theatre of War 3: Korea may be worthwhile but not much has changed from the previous release to give it serious attention.