The incredibly generic title and the Advance Wars level graphics might not make much of a first impression, especially to the PC gamer used to such stunning (and imaginatively titled) games such as Total War: Shogun 2. Storm: Frontline Nation is actually an okay game, which sticks to the pure fundamentals and basics of the turn based strategy genre pretty well. Somewhere hidden in it are the makings of something great, but as it stands now, Storm is a game that only genre fans should check out.
There are definitely a lot of kinks to the experience, let’s be clear on that. The game suffers from control issues, and for all its grandiose setting, the battles come off as underwhelming. The visuals are absolutely awful (although they do benefit from a certain Advance Wars vibe), and it leaves you largely out in the cold without giving you much of a direction (much like how the original Final Fantasy on the NES just dropped you in this huge world without any instructions as to where to go next). However, to the game’s credit, it succeeds on many other fronts in spite of all these issues, and emerges as a largely well made, well balanced, finely tuned Turn Based Strategy game.
Storm: Frontline Nation has a context to all the action that takes place in the game, but it really isn’t all that important. The plot of the game is supposedly about some conflict in the near future, and the world being on the cusp of a global conflict, and some nations predictably coming together to form an alliance. I really didn’t pay much attention to it, because honestly, it seemed to be pretty generic. However, it does its job, which is providing you with an excuse for the all out action that takes place in the game.
And there’s a lot of action, that’s for sure. Storm: Frontline ditches on most of the economy building and resource management that characterizes strategy games, and instead retools them so that it can all be used to further the end goal of war and conflict. There will be no civilian oriented actions that you take as the ruler in this game- everything that you do is done with war in mind. From building infrastructure and new buildings (like Missile Silos and resource processing facilities), to creating new units (from military ones like infantry to some non offensive units like engineers to develop your military technology further, and spies to infiltrate your enemy’s base), everything has been tailored around the game’s central focus on war.
It might seem that a game with such a single minded focus on one aspect above everything else would become repetitive and boring pretty soon, but to Storm’s credit, it does a lot to keep things varied. For instance, like I said, you can send in spies to bring enemies down, as opposed to all out frontal assault. Or you could create a Spec Ops team and have it attack targets of strategic importance in the enemy nation. You could attack an innocent nation and shift the blame on your enemy. Moreover, you could be signing pacts at the UN, shift your alliances, have disarmament treaties, and more. More than the game’s run of the mill story, the gameplay in the game and the varied options that it gives you to interact with other nations are what truly endow it with the atmosphere of a politically charged scenario.
For a game that puts so much emphasis on the battles, then, it’s a bit disappointing the actual battles themselves are so underwhelming. The game shifts to a Total War viewpoint when it moves into battles. The grid based turn based battles seem a bit exciting at first, but they are severely limited in scale, and most of the times, just plain uninteresting. You will mostly find yourself reaching for the ‘Predict Outcome’ option almost always (barring a few key battles that you may want to control) once the initial novelty has worn off.
There are more issues with the game- as mentioned above, it has control issues, as well as a total lack of any instructions for the newcomer (although there are video tutorials, they’re pretty much useless).
For all of its faults though, Storm remains a fun game. It’s single minded focus on military might make it seem limited, and its poor visuals, weak battle system and control issues might turn many players away, but on the whole, it remains a game that all genre aficionados should make it a point to check out. Laymen of turn based strategy games, however, are advised to stay away.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Neat politics based strategy, varied options, battles have an auto resolve feature, game is fun
Controls have issues, weak visuals, run of the mill plot setting, underwhelming battles, focuses on battles at the expense of everything else, lacks directions for new players
A distillation of the turn based strategy genre that focuses on the basics, STORM is recommended to fans of the genre. Laymen, however, are advised to stay away.