Real-Time Strategy games have always held a special place in my heart. One of the first I ever played was the original Age of Empires, which was then followed by StarCraft, and eventually, WarCraft. Hell, I even played the Dawn of War franchise. There’s just something about gathering resources, building a base, defending it, and ultimately, building an army to crush the opposition, and it just really appeals to me. Set in an alternate reality where humans developed mech-like war machines instead of tanks, Iron Harvest 1920+ has once again perked my interest, because who doesn’t want to command an army of heavy weapon toting mechs?
Developed by King Art Games, Iron Harvest 1920+ Complete Edition is now out on Xbox Series X and PS5, and it comes with both the Rusviet Revolution and Operation Eagle DLCs. The main game has you following Anna Kos, a young Polanian woman who lost her brother, Janek, during the war with the Rusviets. After a peace treaty was signed, Polania is occupied by the Rusviet Army and tensions are high, and Anna is forced into action as they abduct her Father, Piotr, who worked with Nikola Tesla, and are attempting to gain access to the factory where he once worked before seeking a more peaceful life. With her Father captured and her countrymen being slaughtered, Anna takes command of the local militia in an attempt to find her Father and help drive the Rusviets out of Polania for good.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant about this game during the first few missions, though thinking back on it, it made a lot of sense. Early missions are played in a somewhat guerilla fashion, with small groups of fighters and hit and run tactics. Individual units have their own special abilities, such as Anna having the ability to instantly kill a single soldier with her Kar98. One thing that helps to set Iron Harvest 1920+ apart from other RTS games is the ability to change out the equipment of your troops. Defeated enemies have a chance of dropping their weapons, and in turn, your humble rifleman unit can equip them, gaining the ability to throw grenades or let forth a barrage of lead with machinegun fire. You can also have your units change out their weapons as you progress through, so you’ll potentially be ready with anti-mech cannons when they eventually cross your path.
Resources do play a large part in any RTS game, and Iron Harvest 1920+ is no exception. Dotted around the map are weapons caches and medical supplies, as well as barrels of oil and shipments of iron. Eventually, once you get into the base building side of things, you’ll also start to notice resource points that you can capture to generate resources over time, but you’ll need to make sure that you have forces ready to defend these, as the enemy will be wanting to capture them for their own war efforts.
Playing an RTS on a console takes a little getting used to, but the controls are relatively straight forward and the on-screen prompts are greatly appreciated. I did find selecting individual units hard at first, but after taking the time to really pay attention to what was on my screen, it eventually became second nature, and most of your basic commands will be taken care of by you’re A or X buttons respectively. Things only got a little more intense as I attempted to use the characters’ special abilities, as this often required me to press and hold a number of buttons at the same time, and I’m not the most coordinated of people at the best of times. In saying that, most abilities can be set to auto-cast, so you won’t really have to micromanage your army unless you really feel the need.
The graphics, in my opinion, are a little hit and miss. While actually playing the game, the characters and the playable map look fantastic. The textures used on the buildings, characters, and the general environment allow you to easily tell what is and isn’t cover, what weapons that squad is carrying, and so on. You can even see pathways carved through the snow that help you to track enemy movements while you’re on the hunt. It’s when the cutscenes happen that things are a bit of a miss-match. Being an RTS, the models don’t really have a huge amount of detail, so they’re not so good when zoomed in all the way, and some cutscenes use the game pieces to portray the story. Other cutscenes, more so the ones between missions, have been wonderfully modelled and allow you to see and feel the emotions the characters have. Iron Harvest 1920+ isn’t the first game to use a mix of in-game models for some animations and special-made models for others, but I do feel it breaks things up in the wrong way.
Given the bulk of the story is between two non-English speaking factions, it was great to see that there was an option to have characters speak in their native dialect, and this was an option I immediately decided I would use. Given the less-than-immersive nature of most RTS titles, having the characters speak in their natural language helped me to feel more involved and more connected with the characters. The other thing that was quite noticeable was that sound effects didn’t seem to break during firefights. My usual experience when playing titles and having a lot of troops on the screen is that even small skirmishes end up having broken sounds, with the occasional gunshot sounding as opposed to the mass of machine-gun fire one would expect. You could hear individual gunshots of each weapon type, and the sound of mechs stomping through the mud wasn’t lost as would normally be the case.
The Rusviet Revolution DLC has players taking control of the Rusviet Army as they seek to dismantle a revolution started by Colonel Zubov, the antagonist from the main game, and will give players a whole new story over four single-player maps, allowing you to try out the units you were originally fighting against. Operation Eagle, on the other hand, adds a whole new campaign and the Usonian faction – the Americans. After staying out of the Great War, they have become an economic powerhouse. With the Rusviet Revolution in full swing, the Usonians have decided it’s time to step in, and with them come a slew of new units to the field, including new and highly destructive flying machines. Now, each faction will have the ability to rain fire from the skies, and the newly developed anti-air weapons will force players to adapt their strategies.
Iron Harvest 1920+ Complete Edition gives players a chance to really test out their strategic minds. Unlike many RTS where the “Zerg Rush” approach can often overwhelm an opponent, the use of actual strategy is what will win most games. Using cover, garrisoning buildings, stealthily approaching enemy lines, it will all play a part in what could be one of the better RTS games I’ve played. You really can’t rely on massed infantry or columns of mechs, you’re forced to think about what you’re actually doing and use the units you have to properly support each other. I wouldn’t say it’s reinvented the RTS genre, but Iron Harvest 1920+ Complete Edition has certainly made it more serious.
- You’ll actually need to use strategies
- Good unit synchronization
- It looks really pretty
- Sound effects and voice acting are incredible.
- The mix of in-game and special made graphics for cutscenes was a little off
- Playing an RTS on console can be intimidating for controls