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Steel Armor: Blaze of War PC

Steel Armor: Blaze of War puts you in command of 1980’s Soviet and US tanks but first you need to command the whole region deploying troops and tanks in a tactic and strategy simulation from 1980’s tank conflicts.

Ratings:
Graphics & Audio: 20/25,
Gameplay: 14/25, 
Creativity 14/25,
Fun 14/25 

Total: 62/100

Steel Armor: Blaze of War PC

Shaking my head at my ineptitude at getting stuck in such a small ditch I left and went to the next tank where I hoped my luck would be better. I was supposed to ambush some M60A1 tanks that were reported to be rolling into my section but I wanted to scout out the front and get the drop on the enemy.

The problem was I had no clue how to place units before the battle so I had a real lousy setup before entering my tank and beginning the fun. Steel Armor: Blaze of War can be fun but you have to get past a brutal learning curve and figure out a lot of stuff to just get to the fun of tank fighting.

Steel Armor: Blaze of War is a lot of game rolled up into a tank simulator that works pretty well once you get past the command and control of armies and down to the first person fighting. Blaze of War has three distinct areas to work in; a large battle overview, an individual battlefield map and the actual tank driving which is the main emphasis.

Blaze of War takes place in 1980’s conflicts of Iran, Iraq Angola and Afghanistan with Russian and American tanks battling each other. The game touts itself as a simulation but you have to get past the tactic and strategy of command before getting into the driver’s seat, or any other seats of a tank.

You start out your warfare either in campaigns or a quick battle but both choices still have you commanding the entire war and individual battles on large maps. You have a large overview map where you need to deploy troops, tanks and try to set the stage for victory but this is the most confusing part of the game.

The next stage has you deploying individual troops and units like mortar teams, tanks and antitank groups across several grids to defend or attack sections. Once you place your units and give them initial orders you can drive your tank to victory in any one of the positions of driver, loader, gunner or commander.

Some tank designs have more or less positions but the basic one you will concentrate on is not commander, its gunner; it seems the commander is less of a leader and more of a back seat driver. I found it best to use the gunner position that still allows you to drive but also allows you direct control of loading different rounds and firing while looking through the various scopes or an outside third person view.

The game comes complete with a wide menu system across your screen when you’re actually in a tank and you have to hold down the control and use your cursor to select controls and map features along with choosing other tanks. The game is full of control issues and poor menu setups but overall Blaze of War can be enjoyable and fulfilling once you learn how to play.

Driving your tank includes all the hazards of real life like getting it stuck in shallow ditches or rivers and driving through areas means taking obstacles like these into account. You also have difficulties like night missions where your 1970’s night vision only sees a few hundred yards at best but headlights can be seen for a mile or more.

Tank fighting is fun and very rewarding when you get your first hit and actually win a battle but the opposite is also true, the game is very disappointing when you can’t even figure out how to get into battle. The tutorial included when you start the game is slow and very limited in information about the actual steps you need to take to move along in the game.

The manual and an extra tactics manual I found online do little to relieve the confusion of how to get the tactics and strategy portions of the game behind you. The game has a lot of menu controls and the keyboard shortcuts do little to actually provide a quick way to command your tank.

The saving grace here is the quick combat mode where you can simply pick units and start a fight a lot quicker than having to go through the campaign mode. While you still have to get through the command sections the quick battle mode has a lot less worry about continuing battles and can get you to the fight a little faster.

Blaze of War has some pretty good graphics and audio with more modern looking tanks and really good interiors but the landscape is rather boring. You get to roll through lifeless deserts or tree dotted fields with almost no hills or rolling areas and little terrain other than the occasional ditch, line of trees and straight as an arrow river.

The tanks are really well textured and detail is great but you get the feeling that all this is a backdrop to what is missing, a fully fleshed out menu structure and command system. The audio is also fantastic; the creak of gears as your tank turret pivots to new headings is so realistic.

Other tanks sound ominously thundering as they roll up to your position and the night sounds of crickets chirping while you wait for enemies to enter your kill zone is well done. While Blaze of War does not hold up well against current major games like Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3 it does a good job in its own unique genre to stand out.

The AI is great and they do a good job of acting like actual tank crews trying to fight and individual soldiers use what sparse cover to try and hide or fight back. I had no problems believing the other tanks and ground troops were fighting for their lives but the main problem was the dense terrain where there was little to hide behind.

Blaze of War has a lot going for it as long as you don’t mind the minutes of work getting to the fights and some tactical setup before you’re climbing into your tank. Due to a major lack of tank simulations, the last is about four years old, Blaze of War does stand out just as being a recent release.

Steel Armor: Blaze of War may be a single standout in an empty field but it does have some good points along with its problems and as a recommendation goes you get a solid one from me. If you’re into tank simulation games Blaze of War is worth the effort of learning how the tactical strategy section works to get to the fun of tank combat.

Steel Armor: Blaze of War Website