Gettysburg: Armored Warfare Review

Gettysburg: Armored Warfare
Developer: Radioactive Software
Price: $10
Platform: PC

So there’s a story in here, but you’ll only know about it if you read the manual. Basically the year is 2065 and the United States has been in some deep shit for a while. Their own Hadron Collider decides to explode and creates a wormhole which they soon learn to control which results in the discovery of time travel. A disgruntled general who’s still upset the Confederates lost the Civil War decides to go back in time to arm the South with futuristic weaponry in hopes of changing history. That’s as much of a story as you’re going to get because this is a multiplayer only game so feel free to write up your own story of what happens after. I prefer to think that one side is really a race of ancient robots who lost their memory and have to cope with their sudden realization in a climactic twist. The humans and robots soon learn to accept each other and make toaster babies.

So let’s get straight to the most important part of an RTS: the units. There are just over a dozen units that has a good mix of regular historical troops and futuristic units. You’ll control regular infantry units, heavy chain-gun toting soldiers, cavalry, tanks, APC’s, zeppelins, and futuristic soldiers. Futuristic soldiers obviously cost a lot more points to use than the traditional Civil War ones, but they deliver a bigger punch in return. The biggest feature is that you can directly take control of any unit under your command by selecting them. Double clicking on one zooms the camera to a third-person shooter perspective and that’s when the fun stops. The infantry units have a sort of weird stuttering animation when running and the aiming sensitivity is all over the place. Just don’t bother trying to aim at something because you’ll most likely spend more time trying to actually center the reticle on what you want than actually shooting it. There isn’t even a sensitivity option. Vehicle control is a little better in that regard, but firing at enemies feels a bit hit or miss. Sometimes I’ll be in a tank, fire a shot at some infantry, and apparently miss.

The game supports up to 64 players per server with 4 incredibly large (although empty) maps. The maps are huge, but they don’t use all that extra space since the main command posts are right in the center with large portions just sitting there. There’s a huge water area, but nobody wastes their time going over there since there isn’t a command point worth capturing over there. There are two modes: Deathmatch and Army Skirmish; while both modes have slight differences, the main idea is to reduce the enemy ticket counter to zero. Tickets are relative to the amount of HP for a unit so killing an enemy sniper won’t knock much out of the enemy counter while taking out a Zeppelin will take a good chunk out of it. You can also take out a steady stream of tickets by controlling the various command points around the map. Deathmatch continually spawns units as they die but you can’t issue any orders or select what you want spawned; instead your only choice is to directly take control of a single unit in the TPS mode or move around the map letting your allies know of any incoming enemies. Army Skirmish on the other hand gives you a more traditional RTS game with both allowing you to create your own army (along with other team members) and control units in third person. The game has been out for a few days already and the servers are absolutely empty which does not bode well. The max I’ve seen is 26 players in a single server with the rest barely touching 5 players. The FPS also drops hard when playing online and hit detection is really off. I sat in an APC firing into an incoming cavalry unit and watched as he trotted around me and went off. Don’t even bother playing as an infantry unit because you’ll never be able to hit anything. The tank is a bit better because of it’s explosive rounds, but not by much.

I usually don’t talk about the UI (user interface), but this one is damn ugly that I had to mention it. It really does look like they decided to leave a placeholder UI in the game. The XP bar at the bottom of the screen has text floating above it showing you your current rank but they just put text on top of it as if they did it in MS Paint or something, there’s no blending into the actual UI. The map is garbage and doesn’t show any important details, heck it doesn’t even show what areas are yours or the enemies. The camera is AWFUL, you can scroll around fine, but it seems to hiccup when you’re going up or down and it doesn’t adjust when it hits the ground. It seems to like to jump straight to shoving the ground in your face when you scroll down yet has no issue with calmly taking its time zooming out. Good luck zooming in to view a fight because what you’ll be doing is counting the pixels on the ground instead. You see that stuff in the top right corner of my screenshots? Yea, you can’t remove that as far as I know. Another odd thing is in the army selection screen it looks like you assign each squad to one of the F keys (F1, F2, F3, etc) yet in the game you can’t hit F1 for example to select that squad. They’re also listed in a numerical list while playing and I figured “Ok, I have to hit the actual number, maybe that F stood for something but it’s the number that matters”. Nope, pressing whatever number that squad is assigned to doesn’t do anything. Double clicking on the icon doesn’t move you over to that squad either. Do you see the weapon menu off to the side? Well I assume that they’re going to update different weapons into the game because so far I’m hitting those numerical keys and it’s not switching my weapon like I thought it would.

The graphics are alright I guess. The units look as nice as they can and some of them (such as the zeppelin) look really cool. The environments themselves are all basically the same flat ground with trees and a different color palette. The sounds at least sound great with humorous lines shouted from the units and the vehicles/guns all sound as authentic as they can. I do quite enjoy hopping into the APC to hear the drive shout “WE GOTTA GO FAST” and hearing the sound of the back doors opening up, but that’s just me. The game is getting some mod support through Steam Workshop with an editor and full toolset to be released sometime soon. Apparently there’s a world editor included, but I’m going to assume it was either cut out and the website is out of date or it’s going to be updated into the game later.

I’ve been told that the game was made by a single guy, Danny Green, and I’ve got to say that it shows. I’m impressed with what he’s done so far but he seriously released an unfinished product. Green if you’re reading this I urge you to get a team together and patch everything to turn this into something amazing because it really does have the potential. Get out of the “I can do this by myself” phase because fixing all of these issues by yourself is a daunting task that will take ages.

The Final Word
I really tried to be a bit more tolerant of this game since the end product is pretty impressive considering it was done by a single guy, but I still can’t go around ignoring lots of its faults. I lurked around the game forums and saw that he was actually participating in discussion and plans to address many of the same issues I’m having so I really hope he doesn’t disappoint. This really is a novel idea and deserves some praise for that and the addition of the Steam Workshop is a good step, but this is just simply an unfinished product and it shows.

– MonsterVine Rating: 2.5 out of 5 – Mediocre



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