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Offensive - The Ultimate Strategical Command Game

One of the most comprehensive, strategic war simulations available today, OFFENSIVE recreates World War II by giving you real life scenarios. Control numerous infantry, tanks, armor and supplies in a variety of historically accurate battles - from the landings at Normandy to the capture of Berlin. Immerse yourself in full "realtime" control, choosing from several pivotal moments in military history.

Fully detailed isometric graphics, powerful 3X zoom capabilities, four-angle battle perspectives and aggressive artificial-intelligence driven enemy forces put you on the front lines in the ultimate war simulation.

  • The most accurate, fully detailed, 3D isometric war simulations
  • 20 historic European battles accurately portrayed and recreated using historical data and film clip inserts
  • The most accurate, fully detailed, 3D isometric war simulation
  • 20 historic European battles accurately portrayed and recreated using historical data and film clip inserts
  • Play either side - Allied or Axis powers
  • Command everything from German tank squadrons to French cavalry regiments, mass ranks of Hittite archers to individual units of foot soldiers - over 15 different types of military units
  • Powerful 3D terrain engine, with innovative four-angle and 3X zoom viewpoints
~ from the back of the UK box

Strategic wargames aren't exactly my favourite genre, but there was something about the Wave Software developed RTS called Offensive that spoke to me. Perhaps it was the nicely detailed pixel art that makes up the varied terrain. Maybe it was the fact that this was an Ocean published game that I hadn't heard of before. Mostly, it was a retro review written by Home of the Underdogs that compared it to both Cannon Fodder and X-Com; two RTS titles of such quality that even I will always go to bat for. So, was worth the time spent fiddling with DOSBox settings?

Well, I have very mixed feelings. The core concept is, like Cannon Fodder, simple and potentially addicting. Set during World War II, you navigate a squadron of army soldiers around a detailed isometric map killing every troop that doesn't wear your colour. Each of the 20 maps are large and varied and can consist of fields, towns, beaches, bridges, rivers and roads. They feature a day-and-night cycle that doesn't really add to the gameplay but is visually pleasing nonetheless. There's nothing here that revolutionises the genre, with the pre-rendered look of Command & Conquer: Red Alert or the 3D environments of Syndicate Wars - both of which came out that same year - making Offensive look ancient by comparison.

Real world battles from the Second World War make up the basis for each stage (left).
Progress is recorded using a password system rather than save files (right).

Where Offensive really offends is in its gameplay; not in its design necessary but in its implementation. Not a a single mechanic has been thought through with playability in mind, as if the designers had no clue what the already established conventions of strategy games were at this time. Your troops - which are separated into blocks of four soldiers - can be selected individually with a single click or dragged over to select more than one. The issue is that this drag box isn't in relation to the mouse cursor, but in relation to the isometric terrain. This makes it incredibly difficult to precisely select who you want, made all the more frustrating by having the screen veer wildly off if your curser even hints at touching the edge of the screen.

It's not much better when you have control of them either. As soon as they are selected, the camera will lock into place to bring up a menu of four options; move, attack, retreat and hold area. Each one is either buggy or pointless. The five-pixel-high army men are terrible at navigation, ignoring bridges for rivers or clear roads for minefields. Even the attack command will often see them attack a tree when on their way to their target instead of the target itself. Retreating is nigh on pointless as by the time you realise that this is what you probably should do, they'll be dead anyway. The Hold Area command is best used for defensive purposes, but when you'll be on the attack 90% of the time (or at least 90% of my time with the game), I wonder why it's there after all. More options would be welcome. Perhaps specifying a weapon to attack with or a method to approach and flank an enemy, but with only these four options you're playing roulette with whether they'll do what you'd expect.

Highlight your troops to select one of four basic actions for them to do it... badly (left).
Press F7 to call up a useful overhead map. It's easy to lose track of one of your troops otherwise (right).

For a game that boasts realism, there is very little of it here. Real WWII scenarios like D-Day and Pegasus Bridge are playable as either the Axis or the Allies but even the manual admits it's here merely as window dressing. It's a shame as these maps - which have multiple views and angles - do look enticing to play in. Combat becomes a chaotic and unfocused war of attrition (that I invariably lost more often than won) with precisely zero attempts at tactics programmed into its design. Just hope that the haggardly selected troops successfully hit the right target. 

Offensive had the potential to not be as offensive as it is. Unfortunately, the half-baked final product needed a little more love and understanding during its development. A shallow shell of a game that I simply cannot recommend. I'll have to pay more attention to the game I'm choosing the next time I get that rare itch for a wargame. 

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 376 Mb.  Install Size: 668 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Offensive is © Disney Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. It does at least have very pretty art - although, like you say, it looks more like something from 1993 than 1996.

    1. It does. On par with a modern retro-revival indie game. Shame about everything else though. It could've been great.