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Hammer & Sickle (pc game)
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Neat but rough Cold War-era intrigue

Based on the Silent Storm engine, this is an intriguing Cold War-era strategy/combat game that provides some solid tactical fun mixed in with RPG elements and which is more than worthy of investigation. Players are thrust into a complex world where they take the part of a Soviet commando out to stop rogue elements from bringing about World War III. The storyline is nicely open-ended, with your actions determining the path it takes and which sees you operating deep behind enemy lines, controlling your character, and later others as you recruit them, engaging in a variety of missions. Combat plays a big part in the game and is handled in turn-based fashion, with players spending action points on their squad to carry out various actions, with a huge variety of weapons available for use and with environments being fully destructible. While Hammer and Sickle is far from perfect, it is enjoyable enough in a rough and ready fashion. The main issues with the game are its general lack of polish and its unforgiving difficulty level which will challenge even veterans of the genre. However, this might be a strong draw for many players so if you are after a difficult game, then this could be for you. The branching storyline is one of Hammer and Sickle's strong points and the multiple approaches available to missions do give it a good replay value. The combat itself is satisfying and requires a lot of strategy which will please armchair tacticians and the array of equipment on display is impressive, while the stealth and intrigue elements are also nicely integrated. If you're looking for something challenging and unusual, then this is more than worthy of your time, as long as you can put up with its rough edges.

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