Blitzkrieg19 May 2003 0
I've reviewed my share of RTS-type games. Heck, I've played more than my share. Titles such as WarCraft and StarCraft whetted my appetite for such games: building, training, destroying, encroaching?conquering! Such is the makeup of most serious wargames, whether tactical or strategic in nature, and while an RTS is inherently enjoyable from its base qualities, it's a very difficult genre to capture effectively across the board.
I had reviewed a similar World War II RTS-type of title recently (Panzer Claws), and while I enjoyed that game, Blitzkrieg is in many ways a fuller experience for a gamer eager to get their fix from World War II era battlefields. And yet, it is still not quite a full RTS game in the same sense that it's predecessors are.
A 'Lightning' Preview
Blitzkrieg has already pierced the European market, and should be widely available in North America by the time of this review's publication. The game I reviewed is a full version, which allows the player to engage themselves in a campaign as the Allies, Germans, or Soviets. It carries the player across some breathtaking landscape that can be either admired or cratered like the surface of the Moon - just about everything is destructible. Besides the campaigns, a random map battle generator and a campaign editor are available to add longevity to the experience. The player can, using the campaign editor, even create their own units.
The RTS roots of this title are obvious to those familiar with the genre already: double-click a unit to select all units of that type in view, drag-and-drop to select large groups, etcetera. Movement and combat are effected in the same manner. That's where the similarities stop, however. There is no resource gathering, structure building, or other similar economic model ingrained in this title. Instead, the player concerns himself with what tactical commanders should worry about: destroying the enemy and capturing terrain (or defending it from attack).
The game's sophistication is beheld by the realistic behavior of the units: tanks belch smoke from their engines and leave tracks behind, infantry suffer heavy casualties when captured in the open by artillery, and vehicles of all types can be damaged and run out of ammunition. Aircraft swoop in and shoot down enemy observation planes, and level bombers unleash deadly cargoes on targets below. All of this and more is reproduced in just about every corner of the European side of the war, from Norway to North Africa. And while falling short of true hexagonal grognard delights, the action is fast and furious enough to make most grognards (of whom I am one) very happy.
As mentioned, the battles can be quite graphic. Catching the enemy in the open, or watching them dash themselves against a player's prepared defenses, results in the landscape being littered with reddened corpses - the only thing missing are the circling scavenger birds. Tanks heat up and explode in vivid pyrotechnical displays - my personal favorite is seeing turrets pop like corks - and the wrecks left behind are blackened and sooty. The ground itself can be churned up by artillery strikes, and buildings may be razed to their very foundations. This is realistic, tactical PC combat at its best.