Steel Division 2: Fate of Finland Review

Back we come to Steel Division 2. The latest expansion is out, Finland is the headline and Multiplayer has been bizarre this past week: T-26s galore. Gloster Gladiators(!) screeching overhead. And all accurate (more or less) to 1944. Let’s not mess about. It’s probably a bit late in the day to be saying this, but if you’re interested in the final phase of what the Finns call the Continuation War – the fighting between the Soviets and the Finns from 1941-44 – then you should get the Fate of Finland DLC.

Eugen as ever haven’t skimped upon offering up every type of hardware present during the fighting. T-26s and Gladiators are just the start.

Brewster Buffaloes, several shades of Saulnier-Morane, Fokker (yes, that Fokker) D.XXIs, BT-42s, T-28s, T-38s, the list goes on. I dare say this is the first time in perhaps a decade or more that some of these types have been portrayed in a PC game. So – simply put, if you’re into the period, you’re going to go crazy over what’s on offer here.

So much of the history fans. You guys are taken care of well enough. Who’s next? Multiplayer fans.

You lot will probably be in two camps when it comes to Fate of Finland‘s multiplayer offerings. Half of you will wonder why you paid the money. Half of you will have a blast. Put it this way – the battlegroups FoF brings to the table are a funny bunch. The things they do, they do extremely well. Ask them to do anything else – well – things get ugly, rapidly. We’re dealing with things like a Finnish infantry division that is matchless up close; but doesn’t have AT weapons bigger than 50mm (i.e. borderline useless). Their ‘armoured’ division isn’t much better. It has some fiendish pieces of kit (who can say no to a captured ISU-152?) but I have a feeling that in a fight which bogs down the division will come apart.

For a certain type of multiplayer gamer all of that is a no-no. It’s a reasonable position to take. Those divisions have such serious weaknesses that if things go wrong and you lose whatever it is that makes your division tick then you’re in real trouble and just can’t come back. If you’re brave enough to play 1v1 games, then it might that FoF doesn’t have a huge amount to offer you.

If – on the other hand – you’re like me and you’re into multiplayer because you like to mess around, then Fate of Finland has some interesting options for you. They might not be the most powerful divisions, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as having a large enough air force to fill the sky with outdated aircraft that somehow still manages to give the enemy an altogether miserable time.

Now: single player. I’ll ease us in: The two historical missions are quite worth your time. Plucky Finns, outnumbered and surrounded, is something that’s guaranteed to get exciting fast. They’re good offerings – but not so good to justify the purchase on their own. In keeping with a number of Eugen’s historical missions, playtime varies wildly depending upon what side you’re on. Playing Finns in one mission yielded forty minutes of intense action. Playing their Soviet opponents gave us a victory in ten minutes.

Army General is where the real meat of Fate of Finland is to be had. In keeping with Death on the Vistula, this is a sprawling action, covering fighting across the entire Karelian isthmus. It’s so big that I do fear that if you’re amongst those who might be getting Steel Division 2 only for its portrayal of the Finns that you might potentially be overwhelmed by the size of the battle. My advice would be to work your way up if this is your first outing.

For the veterans, this is a quite epic battle on offer. The relatively limited maps coming with Fate of Finland do hurt the experience somewhat. Whilst you might get away with using the vanilla maps to portray Poland, Finland is a different, greener, beast. The switch between the deep green maps included with FoF and maps intended for Belorussia is stark and does much to take away from the experience. Your mileage may vary here.

Is Fate of Finland worth your money? That depends. For those on the fence about the ‘clickfest’ of single player and multiplayer – I feel I must disappoint you. The AI remains, let’s say, “unique”. It’ll give a good fight – but also cheerfully let all its units be ambushed and destroyed and leave you to pick up the pieces as their ally. Eugen’s attempts to alleviate the Steel Division 2 clickfest have so far only highlighted the need for said clickfest. Ultimately, nobody else but the player can be trusted to fight their battle. If you were turned off by SD2‘s micromanagement, boot up the game first and give it a whirl before you make your decision.

If you do get Fate of Finland however, you’ll find a vast Army General campaign that, if you don’t mind regular excursions to Belorussia, will keep you entertained for many hours. But, the standout feature for me is the sheer amount of new hardware that just doesn’t make it into the usual WW2 fare of Tigers and T-34s. Developers take note. Thirties technology is fun technology.