Real War: Rogue States

by Aaron "Spectre" Watson

Article Type: Review
Article Date: November 25, 2002

Product Info

Product Name: Real War: Rogue States
Category: Real-Time Strategy
Developer: Rival Interactive
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: Released
System Spec: Click Here
Files and Links: Click Here

The Story Continues…

You may have heard of this follow-up to Real War, called Rogue States after it received the ignominious honorarium as “Least Improved Sequel” at E3 2002. This is not an add-on and will not enhance the original, but much work seems to have been done since its debut in May.

Real War : Rogue States

Some may also remember the release of Real War back in September of last year. It dealt with a group of terrorists that banded up to become the ILA. It seemed pretty far-fetched just prior to release, and was delayed due to the real-world tragedy of 9/11.

The premise had merit, as I reported here, and continues to. That merit seems to have provided the impetus for the next edition, Rogue States.

The story continues where the prior one left off where the ILA terrorist cells had been all but eradicated. The seeming recurrence of activity, however, leads to the realization that the ILA is being harbored by a rogue state. The scenario in which this takes place is some unspecified time in the future and more advanced weapons systems have been added to the US arsenal. This also holds true for the enemy's inventory, but in different ways.

Install and Docs

With a system in the recommended range, install is a fairly painless affair. I tried it on a minimum spec laptop and it got a little overwhelmed. It was still playable, but at minimum settings, of course. On a higher than recommended system, it installed quite well.

The documentation is in the form of a—now standard—small-sized manual. Its 68 pages are well written and includes a full build tree for both sides in the back. This is good to know for strategic purposes when targeting buildings that will most hinder the enemy.

Alright, then. Installation complete, and we're off!


When I first fire up an RTS, I usually do skirmish mode to test all the different systems. This time, however, I decided to check the training to see any new ways of doing things.

Training Choices

The choices, as arrayed above consist of Basic Training, Officer's Training, and Field Training. These are good places to start even for previous Real War players as it goes over subtle changes in weapons deployment and highlights appropriate usage. Starting with the basic point-and-click, surrounding groups, and numbering these groups to what weapon systems will counter another, it is setup very well. I would recommend a run through of all three training areas to get up to speed.

After graduating from the exercises, and with the manual placed open at the build trees, I waded into a skirmish or two to wring things out.

More choices in MP and Skirmish

This new game has more options then its predecessor in both skirmish and multiplayer. When battling AI in skirmish you may choose your camouflage, resource limits, build trees, and many more settings. I fired up a skirmish with no limits to weapons and the mixed terrain of oceans and snow in the arctic. Even the loading screens are new and improved.


The builds started the same with a headquarters and the ability to branch off from there to land, sea or air. Gone are the generators and supply depots from the highest tier in the build chain. After acquiring the fundamentals, off-shoots and upgrades are possible for the expenditure of larger quantities of supply points.

As in the first edition, there are no harvesters or other such resource gathering methods. Just keep your supply lines open, via air, sea, and in this edition, land, and your build abilities will improve.

In this wintry environment I noticed little in the way of improvement in terrain tiles, though they were very good before. The major improvement was to the AI, it seems. Even after patching, the original Real War still had units that did very stupid things: get hung up on riverbanks, pursue a unit to its own demise, or not wake up when the enemy was near. I am glad to say that these anomalies have been corrected!

Sound and Graphics

I'm one of those types that just does not enjoy background music in any gaming environment. I kept these on for a bit, to check the quality, but the 3- to 4-minute loop is what always gets to me. The environmental sounds are adequate, but do not seem to be an improvement over the original. Some explosion sounds still come across as a little hollow. The comms messages, and the return of the voice of R. Lee Emery, are still very good and will acknowledge your actions in a perfunctory fashion.

Graphics are one of my favorite things about Rogue States. The minute detail of all the pieces is very good. The new inventory items are even more articulated then the original version. One of my favorites is the F-22 Raptor. On the ground, and taxi out, the canopy is opened. When the jet begins forward acceleration, the canopy ratchets shut.

Veteran and fresh jets

And there are other details that are more gee-whiz than useful, but nice touches all the same. Such as, in desert areas, a hawk will circle and ride the thermals; in the new autumn scenery, a grizzly bear ambles about the terrain; there's even a polar bear in the arctic areas. Neither of these bears, nor any of the other animals, are harmful to your troops, they are just there for animated backgrounds.

Polar bear in camp


For most fans of the genre, the campaign is where the rubber meets the road in an RTS. The campaign, however, was a real sticking point in my review of the original Real War; unfortunately, Rogue States is no exception. In Real War, the fourth mission stands out as the one that stopped many players. In this iteration, it is the third mission that has the waves of wanton weirdoes banging down your defences most fervently. They throw everything at you, and in very rapid order. Unlike Real War, however, this one, through perseverance, can be won. In a pass/fail environment it is a must to complete in order to complete all seven for the US or ILA side. The last one is a bit sticky on the timing of events making it a bit frustrating as well.

If the retreating ILA forces get away before your forces can stop the barges, multiple nuclear explosions will grace the area just prior to your defeat. If you are able to stop the landing craft before they leave, you get a five minute deadline before the same mushroom forest grows. Definitely a sticking point, but a surmountable challenge.


Rogue States is a definite improvement over Real War. With the fine details, much improved AI, and more choices for skirmish and multiplayer, it has finally reached the state were its predecessor should have been. I really did like Real War and found myself firing it up fairly often in the last year. With the improvements found in Rogue States, I foresee a lot of playing time in the following year. And if the developers release a map editor (like they did with the first edition), I could keep bombing terrorists for years to come.

I am just glad they finally got it right.

Real War: Rogue States

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