Men of War

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Men of War
Men of War.jpg
Developer(s) Best Way
Publisher(s) 1C Company
Distributor(s) 505 Games (UK)
Aspyr Media (USA)
Producer(s) Sergey Gerasev
Maxim Kamensky
Designer(s) Dmitry Morozov
Chris Kramer
Series Men of War
Engine GEM 2
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • NA 10 March 2009
  • EU 20–27 February 2009
  • AUS 23 March 2009
Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer, Co-op

Men of War (Russian: В тылу врага 2: Лис пустыни, or Behind Enemy Lines 2: Desert Fox) is a 2009 real-time tactics video game and the sequel to Faces of War. Players issue orders to and/or take direct control of soldiers on a simulation-driven battlefield.

The game takes place during World War II and its single-player campaign features battles set in Europe, the Soviet Union, Greece, and North Africa across three different campaigns for the Allies, Germans and Soviets. Japan was introduced as a multiplayer faction in a patch.


Men of War is a real-time tactics game in which players complete military objectives. It focuses entirely on military tactics and special operations and does not feature base building, research, or resource gathering. Unit recruitment features in multiplayer, but is rarely enabled in single-player.


The game's most notable feature is its simulation-driven world.[1][2] Examples include:

  • Each soldier and vehicle has an inventory which holds weapons and a finite amount of ammunition and supplies
    • Items can be picked up from the ground or traded
  • Each vehicle and emplacement is operated by soldiers who can enter and leave it at will
  • Each vehicle has components that can be damaged and repaired instead of an abstract health value
  • Line of sight is calculated accurately
  • Buildings have fully modelled interiors that soldiers can freely navigate
  • Bullets and shells are blocked by solid objects
  • Nearly anything can be destroyed, and destruction is physically simulated with solid debris
  • Fire spreads

These rules lead to gameplay that has been described as "organic...where others are artificial"[3] and praised for generating "stories as distinct as they are dramatic",[4] but criticised for at times demanding intense micromanagement.[5] Perhaps in recognition of this, players can change the speed at which time passes.[6]

Direct Control[edit]

Men of War allows a player to directly control any soldier or manned vehicle/gun that he owns. Movement is controlled with four directional keys and a stance toggle, while the unit aims/faces toward the on-screen mouse cursor and fires when the player clicks his mouse button.[6]

"Direct Control" can be used to perform advanced actions such as targeting individual vehicle components, navigating precisely around cover, and cooking a grenade. It has also been described as "dissolving the emotional distance between player and unit".[4]


The single-player portions of Men of War comprise 19 missions spread across Soviet, German, and Allied campaigns and a "bonus" campaign of offcuts.[7] The game focuses on some of the less-known battles of World War II and does not feature famous battles like the Invasion of Normandy or Battle of Stalingrad.

Soviet Campaign[edit]

The Soviet campaign spans the early battles of the Eastern Front, through to the start of the Soviet counter-offensive. The campaign begins with the Battle of Rostov and ends after the Battle of Seelow Heights, with an epilogue showing Berlin days after its capture. The Player is represented by Alexey Kuznetsov (who also plays a role in Men of War: Red Tide) and Victor Smirnov. Shortly after Operation Barbarossa, Alexey Kuznetsov and Victor Smirnov are enlisted into the Red Army. However, during their travel to Rostov they are suddenly attacked by Stuka dive-bombers. Their column is destroyed and they are forced to continue on foot. After an encounter with an armoured car, they get to the H.Q of a local defending zone. The Commander allows them to take some soldiers with them to advance into the village, captured by the Germans. They find an empty disabled KV-1 heavy tank which they repair. They use the tank in their assault on the village and ravage the Germans in the village. Later, the team is given the objective of taking a strategic hill in the area. They do, but they notice a column of tanks advancing on their position, using the tank, they destroy it and are given the order to retreat. Days later, Alexey and Victor arrive at the Rostelmash factory, where the Soviets are evacuating civilians and any machinery they can transport. The two are put in command of defences at the offices, boilers and storages. They are given just enough time to turn it into a fortress, with anti-tank guns, sandbags and mines. However, the German assault is just as strong, stomping through quite quickly. When the train is fully supplied, the Soviets board and evacuate, narrowly evading the German forces. Victor gets away, but when Alexey tries to catch up, he is knocked out in an explosion. When he regains consciousness, he is captured by Germans. Alexey is sent to a village where a recruitment camp is being set up. The SS interrogate him, but suddenly a partisan group attacks the village, allowing him to escape. Alexey gets to the partisans, and they inform him of a German H.Q. in the village. Fighting their way through the village and freeing several more POWs along the way, they manage to capture the H.Q. There, Alexey finds documents containing valuable info on German intelligence networks in the Soviet Union. German reinforcements close in, forcing the partisans to retreat. They then hold their ground to give Alexey and his group enough time to get away.

Meanwhile, Victor Smirnov is in Moscow. He is sent to a nearly completed defence line . Receiving reports of German forces nearby, he is forced to hold out with a chain of dugouts and foxholes. Repelling German attacks and even a flanking attack on the nearby dam, the light defences look ready to collapse. Fortunately, Smirnov is given the order to retreat, as the main line of defence is completed. Facing a fully manned enemy force, the German force fails to break through and falls back.

Alexey Kuznetsov finally gets back to Soviet territory, but is captured by the NKVD. They suspect him of being a deserter, and refuse to believe his documents, instead sending him to a penal unit. Near Rezhev, Alexey leads a charge to capture a strategic hill. Despite most of the unit being killed by mines, machine guns or blocking detachments, they capture the hill, later defending it from a counterattack. Proving his loyalty, Alexey is reinstated to normal units.

German Campaign[edit]

The German campaign takes place in the North Africa theatre and follows a young, ambitious commander called Gunther Borg who fights as a paratrooper in Operation Mercury (Battle of Crete) before being redeployed after temporary leave to join the Afrika Korps in Libya (Tobruk) and Tunisia. After training for the operation, German paratroopers under the command of general Gunther Borg land in Maleme, Crete. Three soldiers (Ulf Liechtman, Wurzen Knopf and Max Luderer) end up on the beach and stock up on supplies from a weapons crate dropped nearby. The trio later rescue the rest of their squad that was captured, as well as regroup with other paratroopers. As the battle continues, a large convoy passes by, threatening the entire attack.[7] Using captured guns and vehicles, the paratroopers manage to destroy the convoy, saving the assault. Receiving reinforcements, the Germans push their way to Maleme airfield, facing British Matilda II tanks and AA guns along the way. Despite fierce resistance, Borg manages to capture the control tower of the airfield, allowing German transport planes to land. However hidden AA guns open fire on the first aircraft to arrive, destroying it. To prevent further incidents like this, Borg orders a charge on the other side of the airfield and despite high casualties, succeeds. With the airfield taken, reinforcements flood in, leading to the eventual capture of Crete. Gunther Borg is allowed to go on leave following Operation Mercury. Later, he is called up to command the 11th Panzer Division in North Africa. Not long after, the British launch Operation Crusader. At Sidi Rezegh, Borg, assisted by fellow commander Vinzenz Kaiser, are warned of a large British tank assault. At first, the defence goes quite well, with German 88mm guns decimating weak British Crusader tanks. The Germans even manage to destroy an artillery battery harassing them. However, with defence lines falling apart, Erwin Rommel orders them to fall back and regroup with his division. However, he is stalled by New Zealanders and Borg ends up having to hold out on open ground. With the support of the Luftwaffe, he holds out until Rommel's troops arrive. Following the events at Sidi Rezegh, Erwin Rommel places Borg in command of the assault on Tobruk. German troops cross the tank ditch and destroy tank traps on the road so panzers can advance. Borg forces his way through the city, despite heavy losses on both sides. Once they reach the coast, assistant commander Paul Weiss suggests placing artillery there to hit transport ships attempting to resupply the defenders. His idea works as the British attempt an amphibious landing to counterattack. The Germans stop the attack and destroy a large convoy of supply ships. Borg then assaults an isolated fort inside the city, completely surrounded by the Germans. They capture it and prepare for the assault on the second line of walls. However, a German soldier discovers a secret tunnel in the fort leading to the inner city. Borg orders five soldiers to go have a look around. As they go, a Stuka dive-bomber accidentally destroys the tunnel, leaving them trapped. Knowing that Borg will soon break through and that almost every soldier is at the walls, the squad attacks the large fuel depot. They secure it and disable detonators placed by the British in case of a defeat. Using what they can, the squad holds out until advanced corps of Germans arrive. Tobruk is finally taken, and Rommel (subsequently Borg) receive promotions. However, desperate to conserve his forces, Rommel retreats deep into Libya. Borg, commander of the 11th Panzer division, encounters a partly dried river. A small squad is sent up and encounters a patrol which they quickly dispose of. Continuing, they find anti tank mines, and a small settlement guarded by American troops. They raid it and kill the enemy as well as a radioman who attempts to call for reinforcements. In the settlement, the squad finds a mine detector which they use to clear the mined road, allowing trucks under Max Luderer (now a commander) to advance. However, Allies troops begin attacking from both sides in an attempt to cut the Germans off. Holding them off, Borg calls for air support. The dive bombers not only obliterate the enemy, but also cause a rockslide, covering the pass. This forces Luderer to use the second pass. Borg successfully protects the convoys and it escapes with minimal casualties. Borg finally arrives in Tunis, where Rommel is evacuating the Afrika Korps. Borg now prepares to defend with what he has left. An Italian destroyer is in the bay, giving him artillery support. As the battle rages on, there are reports that the British have brought up rocket artillery to destroy the ship. A squad is sent behind enemy lines to destroy the battery. Just as it prepares to fire they manage to kill the commander and stop it. Securing the rockets, they use it against the Allies, bombarding their positions. Meanwhile, the Germans have been pushed back to their final defence line. As they desperately hold the line, their destroyer is sunk by constant air strikes. They finally receive the order to fall back and Borg escapes on a submarine. Despite almost the entire rearguard killed or captured, they gave valuable time for the Afrika Korps to escape to Italy. Gunther Borg states that he has not abandoned Africa and that soon, he'll be back.

Allied Campaign[edit]

The Allied campaign also takes place in North Africa and follows an elite American squad under the command of Terry Palmer (a former anti-war journalist) and a Cpl. Robinson during Operation Torch as they fight alongside the British "Desert Rats" of the British 7th Armoured Division, other American soldiers, and Henri d'Astier's French Resistance.


The bonus missions are a collection of challenging scenarios with no particular continuity. They include battles such as the Battle Of Vernon.

Campaign missions typically give the player a predetermined set of troops and pit them against overwhelming odds on large battlefields. They range from infiltrations with four or fewer soldiers at the player's command to all-out battles with hundreds of troops and tons of vehicles, sometimes within the same mission.[4][8] AI units are typically docile until attacked, allowing players time to form plans and eliminate enemy troops in small chunks.


A "Victory Flag" multiplayer game. The recruitment bar is visible to the right.

Men of War includes 16-player internet and LAN multiplayer across six game modes. Multiplayer games retain most simulation features and Direct Control, and add unit recruitment and capture points. All armies from the campaign can be selected (USA, Commonwealth, German, Soviet), and the Japanese army was added after release.

Game modes are:[9]

Players fight for control of three flags.
A simple deathmatch mode.
An attack/defend mode in which one player must capture the other's territory.
All campaign missions can be played cooperatively.
Victory Flag
Similar to Battlezones, but with only one flag.
Valuable Cargo
Players search the map for randomly spawned cargo and carry it back to their base.

The game features a skill ranking system for online play.


Development on Men of War began in 2006[10] with the intention to create a polished successor to Faces of War. Ukrainian series developer Best Way led development with assistance from Digitalmindsoft, a new German studio formed with Best Way's assistance by Faces of War modder Chris Kramer.[11] Digitalmindsoft were to provide "Western soul" to the game; Kramer described this as "combining the new ideas and innovations [of eastern European countries] with great in-game atmosphere and smooth gameplay [of Western studios]".[10]

The game was developed by a team of 30 at Best Way and 15 at Digitalmindsoft.[11] Best Way developed the game's engine and core simulation systems, while Digitalmindsoft provided mission/world design, visuals, and audio and organised a large beta test.[10]


Men of War
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 80[12]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 90[4]
GameSpot 75[13]
IGN 80 [5]
PC Gamer (UK) 85
Play Magazine Poland 70

Men of War has received generally favorable reviews, garnering a Metacritic score of 80 out of 100.

  • Eurogamer praised the game for generating "stories as distinct as they are dramatic" and compared it favorably to Company of Heroes, but criticized its "faintly disappointing" stealth missions.[4]
  • GameSpot described Direct Control as "well-crafted" but criticized the game's graphics and "pathetic English-language voice acting".[13]
  • IGN criticized the game's "aggravating" pathfinding and "tedious" micromanagement, but still concluded that it was a " watching all your favorite war movies play out in front of your eyes".[5]
  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun called the game "spectacular" and "organic...where others are artificial", but criticized its "disastrous" voice acting, "tedious and pointless" cut-scenes, and occasionally "brutal" difficulty.[3]


Men of War has spawned a large amount of fan-made mods and addons. The majority of new additions to the title are currently hosted on the moddb website.[14]


Five standalone expansions were released for Men of War: Red Tide, Assault Squad, Vietnam, Condemned Heroes and Assault Squad 2.

Men of War 2 has been informally announced by series producer Sergey Gerasev.[15]

On 17 December 2012, Digitalmindsoft announced a new game called Call to Arms on their website calling it "The true successor to the Men of War series".[16]

"Call to Arms" is currently available via Steam Early Access


  1. ^ "Men of War - Technologies". 1C Company. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Men of War - Features". 1C Company. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Meer, Alec (27 March 2009). "Wot I Think: Men Of War". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. This is an organic strategy game, where others are artificial. In other words, everything you need is on the battlefield, as a pre-existent, genuine element rather than a magic power-up crate, a weapon upgrade that blinks into existence out of nowhere, or a capture point with an ethereal timer floating above it. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Clare, Oliver (25 February 2009). "Men of War Review". Eurogamer. 
  5. ^ a b c Butts, Steve. "Men of War Review". IGN. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Men of War manual" (PDF). 1C Company. 27 February 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Scenarios". 1C Company. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Men of War - Developers update 6". 1C Company. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Men of War: Multiplayer, game modes". Digitalmindsoft. 14 September 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c Meer, Alec (29 February 2008). "RPS Interview: Men of War". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 
  11. ^ a b "Interview With DMS.Instinct". 12 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Men of War Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Shannon, Daniel (27 March 2009). "Men of War Review". GameSpot. 
  14. ^ "Mod DB Page". 
  15. ^ Stone, Tim (7 July 2011). "Men Of War: Sequels And Souvenirs". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 
  16. ^

External links[edit]