"Fans of the genre will not want to miss out on this tough as nails RTS title."
Each map consists of various, near Battlefield-esque control points that have to be conquered. This is harder than it sounds: nearly every control point is very well guarded by enemy forces, so capturing a point often requires well thought-out tactics. It is often helpful, for example, to clear out enemy trenches with a mortar attack before sending in your infantry, while snipers come in handy when your armour is being plagued by enemy artillery. Once captured, though, a control point is by no means a safe haven. Breaking through a defense line will often trigger an enemy counter-attack, and seizing more control points will often cause resistance on your opponent's behalf to grow much more fierce. This means that, if you aren't careful, enemy tanks can take back a freshly captured checkpoint before you know it.
How much of the battlefield you control also influences your own combat abilities: The more checkpoints are waving your nation's flag, the more quickly you generate points, which you can use to 'buy' reinforcements. Breaking through a defense line will often unlock a special unit or ability, as well. These differ per faction, and can often be decisive in the final push. The Germans, for example, gain access to the Goliath, a small, remote-controlled tank that can infiltrate into enemy territory and cause a huge explosion upon detonation. The Americans unlock naval or air support, which allows you to take out enemy installations or units from a great distance. My personal favourite, however, is the Russian 'For the Motherland' ability. This will spawn a huge amount of AI-controlled soldiers that will attack wherever you want them to, leaving a trail of death, chaos and destruction in their wake.
The remarkable depth of the gameplay does come at a price, though. Most of the missions found in Skirmish mode seem to be designed for the game's co-op mode rather than the single player experience. Taking control over an individual unit, for example, means that you cannot control or oversee what happens elsewhere on the battlefield. As such, one of your squads might be butchered by a tank while you are trying to take out an artillery unit on the other side of the map. Coordinating attacks and making them play out like you want them to can be a bit problematic if you are on your own but insist on using every aspect of gameplay.
Fortunately, Assault Squad also holds its own visually. While the graphics are not overly impressive, they are smooth and detailed enough to not divert your attention in the heat of battle. I've found that maxing out the bloom effect greatly improves the graphics, so you will want to make sure they're enabled.
In the end, Men of War: Assault Squad is surprisingly complete RTS game. While it is an expansion, it offers more depth, challenge and entertainment than quite some full-fledged strategy titles out there. Those who are looking for a streamlined campaign with an interesting story and difficulty that gradually builds up, will be disappointed. When it comes to deep and intense gameplay, though, there are few games that deliver more than Men of War: Assault Squad. The combat is deliciously satisfying, there's enough content to play for hours at a time and the dynamic nature of the gameplay, as well as the variety of options, make for an RTS title that you can just keep coming back to.