World War 2 is perhaps the most widely used era in military gaming. Despite the current trend of Vietnam era games, and the always huge popularity of modern combat games, there always seems to be a steady flow of WW2 sims, specifically for the PC. Blitzkrieg from CDV is the latest RTS to feature WW2 gameplay, and while WW2 enthusiasts will most likely approve, can it appeal to the average PC gamer?
Gameplay - 8.0/10:
Blitkrieg places most of its focus on the campaign mode of gameplay, which is generally the best option to chose for gamers ready to get straight into the action. For players unfamiliar to these types of games, a tutorial mode is featured, so from the start everyone appears to be covered.
Upon choosing campaign mode, you are given the option of three different campaigns - Allied, German and Soviet. Unlike previous typical WW2 games, where you can either chose Allied or Axis, Blitzkrieg gives you more specific options, which is a good thing, however there are notable absences (.e.g Japan). Nevertheless, there are 80 missions across all three campaigns, which is very indepth indeed.
Mission briefings are a big part of Blitzkrieg, to get a full understanding of the mission ahead of you, you must collect all information presented to. If you are not keen on the mission planning aspect then Blitzkrieg may not be the RTS for you, as many of the missions rely on you knowing exactly what is going on, presuming you intend on winning that is. It is also a good idea to remember the mission objectives before hand to prevent confusion once you get into the game.
What separates Blitzkrieg from many other war based RTS titles is its ingame realism. As real world limitations dictate, you can't magically produce units on demand, you must fight your battles with what units the game provides. Along the line you may be supported by reinforcements, but in most cases each unit has real value. For example, in C&C, if a unit dies, you simply make another, but in Blitzkrieg, that unit is gone for good, there are no factories to produce another. This creates an apparent sense of realism, and forces you to consider your strategies rather than blindly attack with brute force.
Speaking of which, strategy plays a huge role for success in Blitzkrieg. You can't simply take your entire army and just march your way to the objectives, first you must outlay a basic plan on how you intend to attack or defend. These such plans are realtime, i.e. there is no pre-game waypoint planner or anything, all commands are done in realtime by yourself. Should you wish to proceed and attack a location, it may be a wise idea to send a recon plane over it first to scope out the opposing forces, or even perhaps send a bomber over to soften them up. Otherwise, you can set up your cannons and bombard a blind area in an effort to kill unsuspecting units or force them to withdraw.
Defending is another matter, however Blitzkrieg has you covered nicely. For air defense, most missions give you access to AA guns, which are mobile when connected to a truck. Without AA guns, the enemy can make a mess of your soldiers and even armour quickly, so they play a vital role. On top of this, you can construct trenches, place anti personnel or tank mines and even set your forces into 'hide and wait' mode, which ambushes any enemy near by. In total, there are over 200 vehicles and over 40 infantry/object types, giving Blitzkrieg great unit depth.
Despite the fact you have an impressive amount of possible tactics for offense and defence on hand, the computer controlled enemies are very difficult at times. In some missions you are placed in situations where you can't slip up once or your doomed, which will be overwhelming for new comers. For seasoned RTS gamers these situations may be controllable, but they are certainly very challenging, so don't say we didn't warn you.
Visuals - 9.0/10:
For a RTS title this game looks stunning, specifically the environments. Some war games fail to create a realistic atmosphere, some of which are in pure 3D. Blitzkrieg recreates perhaps the best and most realistic WW2 scenery I've ever seen in a PC game with a mere isometric viewpoint. Not only does it look great, but it also interacts nicely. The surrounding landscape is totally destructible, so you know when a tough battle has been fought by simply looking at the destruction it left behind. The somewhat eerie sight of huge bombers ripping apart a nest of enemies, ground and buildings is simply unmatched.
Attention to detail is what separates the real RTS games from the rushed RTS games, and Blitzkrieg certainly has a lot of detail. Every unit type is easily identified by its visuals, with all three nationalities then having unique versions of the unit types to further enhance the detail (for example, different tank models). These also have unique animations for their specific functions, making Blitzkrieg easily the most visually attractive RTS I've seen in recent memory.
Controls - 7.0/10:
Blitzkrieg controls like your average RTS, click here to do this, select them to do that, however at times controlling can become a little tedious. Since the gameplay often revolves around real world strategy you really have to be on the ball constantly to get your units in the right positions, and eventually the whole game becomes about how quickly you can move your mouse and click. Of course, this is somewhat expected for such an indepth game, however it may drive the average gamer away. On top of this, your units aren't the smartest bunch, so you have to keep an eye on everyone on and off the visible screen to ensure victory. There is nothing more annoying than leaving a party of units be for a few minutes, only to come back to corpses scattered around a crater.
Blitzkrieg is far from highly polished, but that's not saying it lacks good gameplay. All the basic elements of a good RTS are present, like good graphics, indepth units and long lasting gameplay which make for solid experience, but the overall feel isn't quite perfect enough to make it a must have. If you're an avid RTS gamer, and enjoy playing in the WW2 era, then Blitzkrieg will offer a great challenge, however even then it isn't exactly a new or fresh challenge, rather more of the same WW2 gameplay we've come to expect. For everyone else, Blitzkrieg may be niche targeted just a little to much to pose as a must buy, but who knows, you may just love it.