Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War is for hardcore wargamers only. Casual wargamers, RTSers, strategy gamers in general, this game is most likely not for you. This is not an easy game, nor is this a forgiving game. This is not even an overly “fun” game, at least not by most gamers’ reckoning. Raging Tiger is the embodiment of the “niche” wargame—those who enjoy excruciatingly detailed war simulations will find solid entertainment here, while everyone else will be wallowing in acronyms and statistical military minutiae.
The premise is quite simple: It’s the year 2010, and after years of unease between North and South Korea, things have finally reached a boiling point. The ensuing war pits The Republic of Korea and US forces against the armies of Kim II. Each of the 14 included scenarios takes place along the DMZ of the Korean Peninsula on some incredibly detailed and well-researched maps. In fact, the entire game is amazingly, painstakingly researched. Pulling up the onscreen information on any given unit will produce pages of statistics. Shrapnel has a habit of producing games that feel like “spreadsheets with randomizers”, and Raging Tiger is no different. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it does limit the appeal of many of their games to a more specialized fan base.
Raging Tiger uses the same engine as Shrapnel’s Armed Task Force, for those familiar with that title. A mission begins with a quick briefing of the current objectives, which is usually riddled with military acronyms. The manual was vital for me here, because although they clearly labeled each and every unit I’d be getting for a particular scenario, everything was so abbreviated that I had no idea if I was getting tanks, mortars, helicopters or engineers. After several hours of playing, I’m still not even close to knowing these units in enough detail to make me a competent player.
After briefing, players set up their units. Initial placements are suggested by the scenario briefing, and indeed the scenario plays out best if those suggestions are used. But, if the current setup is a bit too difficult, or too easy for that matter, units can be placed anywhere the player chooses. In fact, you could simply place all your units right at the end objective if you wished, but that really takes all the challenge out of things. Once all the units are in place, it’s time to start the clock.
Raging Tiger is a real-time game, although it can be paused at any time to issue or change orders. Units can be commanded at the individual, platoon, or company level, giving players an option of control styles. For those wanting the feel of being a battlefield commander, company and platoon level control allows general orders to be given to the rather competent AI, which then does its best to comply. For those micromanagers in the crowd, the individual unit control level is more appropriate. Of course, juggling both is the best route to success.
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