PC Game Preview: Codename Panzers: Phase Two
After Phase One comes...Phase Two. Peter von Kleinsmid offers his hands-on impressions of CDV's next Codename Panzers World War II strategy title.
Currently scheduled to release on July 27, 2005, Codename Panzers: Phase Two is a real-time tactical game which offers fast-paced action and detailed gameplay and graphics mostly set in Africa and Yugoslavia during World War II. The design aims for fun over realism, but it includes many historical details. The game is the second in a planned seven-part series (with three titles published or on the drawing board) which began last year with Codename Panzers: Phase One – see our full review of that game. Based on the late beta preview version which CDV kindly provided me, it appears Phase Two will be very similar to Phase One, but will add new features, refinements, units, nationalities, locations, editors, scenarios, and three new campaigns.
Like Phase One, the preview version came with Starforce copy protection software. I had no problems with it this time, but I didn’t try removing the Starforce software, since it’s a preview version and I intend to re-format those hard drives soon anyway.
In my preview version, both the Axis and the Allied campaigns start in Africa in 1942. In the Axis campaign, the player leads Italian and German forces; while in the Allied campaign, the player leads British and American forces. In the Partisan campaign, the player leads resistance fighters in German-occupied Yugoslavia. The preview requires the player to complete both the Axis and the Allied campaign before starting the Partisan campaign (but either the Axis or the Allied campaign can be played without completing the other one first. There is also a cheat code which will allow the player to skip scenarios and get to the Partisan campaign). Russians are also available in the preview’s skirmish mode.
Campaigns mainly consist of scenarios introduced and interspersed with animated cut-scenes and narrations that tell the stories of hero characters which the player must keep alive from scenario to scenario. A core group of units is also carried from scenario to scenario if they survive. Surviving core units retain experience based on the fighting they did, and the player can add new units to their core group based on the prestige points awarded for previous successes. Scenarios themselves have objectives that change according to events during the scenario, with some optional or “secret” goals that can be discovered only if the player does certain things. As in many games, if the player loses a hero character or fails a scenario’s main objective, then they are expected to start the scenario over (or revert to a saved position within the scenario) and try again. As I mentioned before, however, there is a cheat code that players can use to bypass a scenario, which my sources tell me will likely be in the released version as well.
Other play modes in the preview version include multi-player and skirmish modes, where players choose forces and fight it out in a variety of scenarios designed for such games, with several variations in set up and victory conditions. Multiple players can play on the same side, or several players can engage in a free-for-all. One can also use the editor to create scenarios to play.