Machines at War 3 Review

Commander, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. A lot of people are going to die.

Machines at War 3 is a real-time strategy game made by Isotope 244 in the vein of Command & Conquer. It’s a sequel to Isotope 244′s last game, Land Air Sea Warfare. You collect minerals and harvest power to build units and structures to crush your enemies. Unlike LASW, MaW3 comes with online multiplayer, a campaign mode, and infantry units.

The best thing about MaW3 is the size of the battles. There are over 130 different land, sea, and air units, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and you can command thousands at a time. I had a few battles that were absolute chaos. I can still hear their screams.


I didn’t find the tutorial very helpful. It didn’t explain hotkeys, which was really frustrating. It took me the whole tutorial and a few missions of the campaign before I figured out some essential controls like how to make a hotkey for a group of units and how to move them by clicking on the mini-map. The campaign could have had the tutorial built in, and still kind of feels like it does. The first few missions are nearly impossible to fail. It’s a good thing, too, because I was still reacting very slowly to enemies I came across.

I didn’t know there was a way to attack an enemy on sight until I looked it up on the Wiki page. That means my units would have to finish going to the exact spot I clicked before they started firing at enemies, giving the enemies a nice head start. That’s something that should be covered in the tutorial. Hotkeys should be displayed when you hover the mouse over actions, but they aren’t. I had to go out of my way to figure that stuff out.

The default controls are confusing. For some reason, instead of right-clicking to move, you left-click – unless you’re using the mini-map, then you have to right-click. Yeah. What’s brutal about having left-click as move is it’s also what you use to select units. So, if you accidentally click and drag when you’re trying to move units, you’ll deselect them. It happened to me several times. Thankfully, you can change the controls in the options menu. This didn’t fix my issue with clicking and dragging though.

I found structures were often more useful than units. Minerals are automatically generated, so units are disposable, and as such, they die quickly. Defensive turrets seemed like a much better investment. When I skirmished the computer (and lost), I noticed the AI would creep up on me with buildings, not just units. I lost a lot of good men and women just trying to command the area around my own base.

I would recommend learning the units before you get into multiplayer. There is a unit index, which is handy, but I find it’s best to just play and get a feel for it. You begin to learn how fast certain units move, how much damage they do, and what support they need. Pay attention to the speed of units. I lost so many wasps, because they’re so much faster than other units and they’d arrive at the battle well before their ground support. Oh, the humanity!

MaW3 was programmed by one person, James Bryant. His hard work pays off with some great details, like how terrain gets scorched during fights and it stays scorched throughout the game. Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, I couldn’t help comparing it to games like StarCraft, to which it can’t possibly hold up. It’s important to mention MaW3 isn’t supposed to hold up against StarCraft. It’s a throwback to games like C&C, but when I play a game that’s similar, like this one, I really notice how well done StarCraft is.

I played the Windows version of this game, and I can’t help but feel like it would be better on iOS (which it is due for release on later this year). It doesn’t give off that impression that every second counts, so I think it would be more suited to using your finger to click through options. It’s also worth mentioning that LASW was a huge success on the App Store.

You can buy MaW3 for Windows and Mac right now, right here!

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

What does this score mean?

This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.

© 2013, The Indie Mine. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mark McAvoy

Mark McAvoy used to beat his older brother at Joust on the Atari 2600. Now he writes about games and hosts a podcast called Super Gamer.

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