Storm: Frontline Nation is a strategic wargame set in an alternate reality where armed conflicts break out across Europe and Northern Africa after the world's oil reserves run dry. Storm marries the turn-based strategic campaigns of Civilization to the tactical combat of Advance Wars, a rocky relationship that offers brief bursts of excitement amidst too many rough patches.
It sounds like a complicated combination, but Storm is actually a fairly straightforward game once you get past the steep initial learning curve. The tutorials are nothing more than gameplay videos accompanied by poorly-translated text, and it can take hours to figure out how to accomplish basic objectives like improving your citizen's loyalty rating or repairing a damaged bridge.
I say "objectives" because Storm features a unique mission system which commissions you to complete time-sensitive challenges every few turns in exchange for rewards of resources, technology, or diplomatic brownie points with other nations. The missions are randomly generated, but if you choose to play as the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, or France in campaign mode, you'll receive additional story missions that must be completed to win the game.
Every campaign game starts with you staring at the same strategic map of central European territories, sort of like a Risk board if you chopped off all the continents worth conquering. If you're playing an open campaign you can command one of the 45 countries involved in the conflict, managing resources and manoeuvring military units to conquer the region. Every turn you collect resources from territories and cities you control, and allocate them to research new technology or produce units and structures.
Everything you build in Storm is either a tactical weapon, a military unit, or a building which will allow you to build or maintain more military units. Your options for diplomacy are equally limited, amounting to little more than trading or demanding resources, negotiating treaties, and declaring war. You can choose to spend resources on researching new combat technology across five different tech trees with ten levels each, but they're cluttered with too many barren levels that just suck up your time and resources. Outside of combat, there's not much to do in this game.
Thankfully, when conflict inevitably erupts, the game switches to a turn-based tactical combat mode in which two opposing forces must deploy tanks, infantry, and air units to attack or defend control points scattered across a randomly-generated map. It's a more complex and detailed turn-based strategy game in the vein of Advance Wars, and it's a blast to play.
Next page: Multiplayer and shortcomings...