The year is 1989. The Cold War has just gone hot. The fields, forests, and towns of Germany are once again the scene of battle as the front-line armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact fight it out in the battle for which they have prepared for years. While generals fight the overall war, it is the officers on the ground who will win the battle as they command Regiments.
Regiments was created by MicroProse and is a real-time tactical combat game set during a hypothetical but realistic World War III which breaks out in Western Europe. Players take command of a regimental sized unit as they must battle against the enemy to defend your territory or invade and conquer that of your enemy. Units from six different nationalities can be played including the USSR, USA, East Germany, West Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. More than 100 different units are available to control, with even more with infantry squad variants and variations of the same equipment for different nationalities. The main part of the game consists of four multi-stage operations as well as three interludes which are all tied together in a single plot-line. During the course of the game, players will command units from each nationality and view the story from different points of view.
Regiments offers a few tutorials to help teach players the basics of the game. Then once they begin the operations, players are introduced to new units, support, and challenges as they progress. Individual units are platoon-sized and consist of 2-5 vehicles or weapons. A recon platoon may have only two scout vehicles while an armored platoon has four tanks. Infantry platoons consist of several squads of soldiers as well as the vehicles which carry them into battle. Artillery and aviation units are also available as well as supply units which play an important role in battles since your fighting units will run out of ammo and need to resupply. When you begin the operations, you first get to pick the type of regiment which you want to command. Some may include more tanks while others have helicopter units. Each also comes with various kinds of off-map support which you can call in. These include artillery bombardment, air strikes, smoke for blocking the view of the enemy as you advance, and more. Therefore, you can select a regiment that fits the tactics and strategy you want to use. As you progress through the operations, you earn points which you can use to replace your losses as well as increase the amount of units you can field at one time, the frequency of off-map support you receive, and even the amount of supplies available to you during a battle. You can also add taskforces to your regiment which can include one or more platoons. Some even come with additional artillery or air support. In addition to the operations, you can also choose to play a single skirmish battle. There are three different types from which you can choose where you are either attacking, defending, or in a meeting engagement where both sides advance towards each other.
While there have been similar video games where players can take command of modern military units, I really like how Regiments follows realistic command structures. You start out with regimental or battalion sized units which include the front-line fighting platoons as well as attached artillery such as mortars, air defense units, supply, and command units. This makes it easy to start a battle without having to purchase all of your units individually. Instead, just pick a regiment and you are ready to start the battle. Regiments also offers a smooth learning curve. Even after completing the tutorials which teach you how to control units as well as the abilities of specialized units, the operations start out with simpler engagements and then add the need for those specialized units as you progress.
Controlling several different units in Regiments is also easy. The types of commands which you can give are fairly simple. There is no need to micromanage your units. You order them to move or attack, they will head towards the destination or move into range and begin engaging the enemy. If you give a fast move command, the unit will find the fastest way to get to your destination by taking roads and avoiding forests. Also, if a unit remains in the same position for a while, it will automatically dig-in to increase its defenses. There are other orders you can give to certain types of units as well. Infantry can be ordered to ride in their vehicles for quicker movement or dismount so they can use the full firepower of their soldiers. On-board artillery units can be given bombardment orders and in the case of mortar units, they will automatically engage enemies that come into range. You can even order a unit not to fire. This is useful for recon units so they can scout out the enemy without firing at them and giving away their position.
As in real life, your platoons will run out of ammo and may need some field repairs. Supply units, which are vulnerable to enemy fire, will create an area of support around them once they have stopped moving. Send your combat units within that zone and they will automatically repair and resupply. This is especially important for your helicopter and artillery units since they can expend their ammo in a short amount of time. If a unit has taken heavy losses, you can order it to retreat before it is completely destroyed. It will move off-map and a short time later you can bring it back into battle back at full strength. Destroyed units can also be replaced through you may have to wait several minutes before they can be deployed. Command units can improve the morale and fighting ability of units within their command radius. Just be sure to keep them safe.
I really enjoy playing Regiments. It lets you get right into the game without a lot of preparation. The AI of your units lets you focus on the larger battle without having to always give specific orders to each of them. The enemy AI can also be challenging. When on defense, they often don’t open fire and reveal themselves until you get in close. Therefore, it is important to use recon units to find them. Then call in artillery to suppress them so they are not as effective when attacking your units. In-between each engagement within the operations, I am impressed how you can choose to customize your unit over time without having to focus on lots of little details. The game also offers a lot of information which can help you as a commander. Select a unit and you can see the number of vehicles in the platoon, its durability and suppression levels, the amount of ammo it has as well as the types of weapons the unit has and more. Hold down the SHIFT key and circles appear around the unit showing its sight and firing range and even the range of anti-aircraft weapons it may have. This info can be very useful. If a unit’s durability gets low and its suppression high, then pull it back out of the fight to improve its effectiveness.
While the gameplay is great, the graphics in Regiments are also impressive. Though you may spend most of a battle zoomed out to see large sections of the battlefield, if you zoom in you can see the incredible detail of the units and terrain. I have long been a fan of MicroProse and played many of their games in the past. Therefore, I am pleased to see their return by not only remaking some of their popular classics, but coming out with new games as well. I am very impressed with Regiments and like how you can get into it quickly without a lot of preparation. If does not overwhelm you at the start, but gets you in gradually as you learn the game. As such it is very approachable for those new to this type of game while also providing the details relished by veteran gamers. Even if you have never played this type of game, but are interested in fighting a hypothetical World War III in Europe, then I highly recommend Regiments. Experienced gamers will also enjoy this game. Be warned though. While you may think you are only going to sit down and play one engagement of an operation, you may find yourself spending more time than you planned as you play ‘just one more’ engagement.
Regiments is available for PC on Steam for $29.99. Here is trailer for Regiments.