The big appeal of military video games is that they are the closest thing that grown ups get to being able to play soldier in the back yard. It’s the essence of why this type of game is so popular, no matter how it is presented. For purists there’s Arma III, for action fans there’s Call of Duty, and for strategy fans there’s Company of Heroes. Recruits, a new entry by Commotion Games, attempts to combine elements of all three by having action, precision execution, and an overhead point of view. It’s still early in development, but it’s looking promising so far.
In this game, you control an endless assembly line of soldiers who must fight their way through a number of scenarios and environments. The basic premise in each area is pretty similar; kill all enemies, advance slowly, and complete the mission. As with games like XCOM, your squad is made up of unique little snowflakes who have one life to live and are either destined to become feared military leaders or flame out in a blaze of glory.
In my experience with Recruits, the latter situation (blaze of glory) has definitely been the way it’s played out for almost all of these soldiers. While I concede I’m not very good at playing this game, it is brutally hard and unforgiving, which means you need to be extremely careful if you have any hope of surviving…and sometimes that doesn’t even help. I ended up pushing my soldiers through a non-stop meat grinder, leading to a ridiculously long Memorial Wall in the menu. Then again, maybe that’s the point. Even still though, this high level of difficulty is something that hopefully will sort itself out as the game nears completion, whether it manifests as better balance or more difficulty levels becoming available.
Recruits is being developed using the Unreal Engine, and it looks really quite impressive. Even though its camera is positioned from high above the action, there is not skimping on detail in foliage, character animations, and explosions. The only issue I had with this game visually is that you cannot zoom in on Normal Mode, and are stuck at this extreme high view. It seems to be an odd choice, as I’m sure I’m not the only player who wants to get close up and check out the game world. Aside from that, it looks and sounds fantastic.
In addition to the campaigns, of which more are to be added further in development, there is a multiplayer mode available. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be populated by anybody. Based on a quick runthrough however, it looked like it has potential to be fun.
Recruits is currently available to purchase as part of Steam Early Access. As with most titles that appear here, it is actively being worked on and offers no guarantee that it will be done any time soon…or at all. However, what is there is solid enough, and here’s hoping Commotion Games continues to work on it and balance out the challenge level. Recruits can be purchased for $9.99 if you’re down to support its development.