This weekend, in between bouts of editing Bloodlust: Red Glory and starting book five (not sure yet on the title) I finished a computer game that I have been playing for a little while called Hegemony: Rome and watched a movie called Fury, both of which interested me enough to write a review and comment on.
Fury is Brad Pitt’s latest venture, a old style war movie with modern sensibilities. Pitt stars as a tank commander with the monicker “Wardaddy”. Many people have compared this character to Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds. These people need to learn to spot nuance. Wardaddy is aggressive I suppose, but where Aldo Raine is gleefully and majestically murderous, it is fairly obvious that Wardaddy is very, very tired and just wants to do his duty and get his boys home alive. His boys in this case are the remainder of the tank crew that he has kept alive for the last three years of the war — a miracle of skill and luck, considering the difficulties faced by American tanks in WWII.
Fury starts just after the loss of a member of that team. He is replaced by Norman, a clerk who is misplaced and sent to join these hardenned veterans.
There is a wonderful scene near the beginning of the movie where the crew is driving back into camp. The weariness on their faces is reminiscent of the old photos that I poured over as a tank obsessed child. I could not understand that look then, but I can fathom it now. It is the look of someone who has just gone through a mile of hell and realizes that they have to get up and go through it all again the next day and the next until the war is done or they are dead. It was nicely conveyed.
The best scene of the movie is when four sherman tanks come face to face with a Nazi tiger. The odds of a Sherman tank defeating a tiger in such a confrontation were historically unfortunate, requiring that the allies expend several tanks for each kill. Fury takes that ugly fact and turns it into a tense, brutal scene. You get a real sense of the desperation of such an uneven battle, right up until the point where the crew of Fury get close enough that they can outmanoeuvre the German behemoth and score a direct hit on the weaker rear armour. These are actual tactics from tank battles in the period, recreated and not glorified. I loved the scene.
Fury is full of well crafted scenes, including a tense conversation between the lads and two German women and several brutal battles against German infantry and anti-tank weapons. They all hold together well.
The plot of Fury is pretty understated. It reminds me a great deal of modern fantasy. Wardaddy tries to accommodate Norman to the realities of war while keeping his crew alive. The tank crew manages a stall a German advance at the cost of their own lives. Norman manages to survive, but when his told he is a hero he looks more confused than anything. The last shot of the film is him looking back at the tank that they all fought and died to protect. Wardaddy called it home. It is poignant and yet somehow transcends the usual tear-jerking male glory that I get out of war movies, leaving me thoughtful instead of emotional.
I would heartily recommend Fury to anyone who has an interest in tanks, or wants to see a war movie that does not come off as simple action porn.
I picked up Hegemony Rome in steam early access because I loved the Hegemony Gold game. Hegemony Gold was a slower paced, thoughtful RTS that included a supply chain logistics system that gave it a unique feel. When I first played the new game wasn’t optimized then so I let it sit for a while. I gave it another try in the new year and found that it is now is now decently polished, and optimized.
The Hegemony series is in antithesis of the dominant form of RTS (Starcraft Style). It is a slow playing ballet that builds over hours where a handful of units can have a large impact and a single raid can cause problems for an unwary empire. The way supply and manpower are handled in this series is brilliant, creating a very thoughtful style of gameplay that I would love to see more often.
The bigger your empire, the more difficult it is to protect it, and manage getting the needed food and manpower to the right place.
The four story campaigns follow the career of Caesar in Gaul in exacting detail. You will invade Britain, you will cross the Rhine, and you will see your province torn apart by rebellion. By the end of it you will feel like you have conquered the place yourself, and maybe feel a little shell shocked at having to deal with pesky raiders constantly picking at your flanks.
The game is by no means perfect. If you are not a patient gamer, or a thoughtful exploiter of gaming systems you may not enjoy it. The scope of the game might have been a little too ambitious for such a small studio, and it occasionally falls apart. It is slow to start, but that humble beginning only lets you appreciate the epic scope once you get there.
-Supply lines and manpower mechanics define how the game is played. Raids can be devastating, and concentrating an entire army in one place will often cause you to lose as you run out of food or your empire is picked apart by raiders.
-New Experience System lets you specialize Legions, and even promote officers from veteran legions to generals which you can assign to any legion. In this way you can use your best Legions as a sort of officer school to power up other units. It is kind of awesome.
-Flanking and positioning make an enormous difference.
-You can built forts and bridges, and customize cities.
Take it or Leave it
-Siege warfare is brutal. Better plan it out.
-Naval Warfare can be finicky
-Not a lot of different varities of unit, however the differences become very meaningful as you learn how to use them,
-Slow to start
-The supply mechanic is not for every gamer
-Not as flashy as a AAA title
I will let it sit for a while longer then I’ll try the sandbox campaign and some mods I think, then update my review. Good on you Longbow, I always hoped for another after Hegemony Gold and I am glad to see it.