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D-Day PC Hands-on Preview

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| Strategy in Gaming | Posted: Jul 26, 2004 4:00 am

Recently the 60th anniversary of the D-Day battles were commemorated. On June 6th 1944 the Allied forces launched their biggest offensive against the German forces and thanks to the bravery of many thousand allied men the war was turned and eventually an Allied victory was the outcome. D-day is perhaps the most famous day in the whole of the Second World War and we have seen numerous video game recreations of it in the past few years. However these have scoped in on the Omaha beach landing rather than the whole offensive and were also in a first person environment. D-Day the game takes you through the offensive from beginning to end and includes many features that war buffs will lap up.

The main storyline of D-day will be divided into three chapters/campaigns. The campaigns represent the planning for the landing, the actual landing itself and the final battles of the campaign which turned World War II on its head. One of the game's strengths will be the length that the developers have gone into to make sure it is historically accurate. Before each mission you are told what to do but also you can read what happened during the battle in the actual war. None of the missions are made up and all based on real battles that occurred.

The first change in comparison to most RTS games is the lack of resource building. You are dumped into a level and must complete it with only those troops and vehicles otherwise the mission is failed. This very much mimics the recently released Ground Control 2 except that it seems that no matter what you can not bring in reinforcements making the game closer to the style of Commandos than a game like StarCraft. Also the soldiers are very vulnerable behind enemy lines and thus if you don't take your time, they will be cut down easily. Like the real world, the soldiers only need one or two bullets to take them down which gives the game are fairly tough difficulty level until you adjust to the style of game it is. We found the going tough in the preview build on the lowest difficulty, and considering there is four even the most seasoned rts veteran will get a challenge from the game.

For those of you who are new to the genre, the game will contain a tutorial and most people should go through it as it goes through some military tactics which can be used in the game such as formations and the way soldiers can crawl to avoid fire at times behind enemy lines. Once a campaign mission is completed, it will be able to replayed at anytime in the scenario mode which doesn't change anything, just the ability to play a mission individually.

The units you will have on offer are historically accurate and none come from the fantasy realm of anything. At the basic level you will have infantry to do your tasks but you will also come across tanks, jeeps and other vehicles you would expect to come across in a world war 2 game. You can also steal enemy tanks if they are left unused and in an interesting twist, units must be in the tank to use them so this depletes your infantry resources for the gain of more firepower. Each of the units already has fantastic animations especially the infantry who seamlessly run across the battlefield and change formations and stance in a very smooth fashion.

As we mentioned before the game is going to be quite challenging but something which may come as a disappointment is the lack of ability to play as the German forces. The game is officially licensed for the D-Day landing and campaign so it doesn't come as much of a surprise that this is the case. The enemies have the advantage of bunkers and other building structures because all the time you are invading their base rather than them attacking you. In multiplayer however you can take command of German forces, Hungarian, American, British and Polish just to name a few.

As the developers are really going for the accurate historical take on the game, it includes numerous extras that historians will really like as an addition to the game. It includes a former soldiers testimony about the Omaha landing as well as an encyclopedia about all the units in the game and historical background on all the missions. The cinematics used throughout the game also contain footage from the war and mixes this with some in-engine story sections to portray the storyline.

The engine the game is using is quite impressive and as mentioned before offers highly detailed units but also the battlefield is strewn with buildings and townships which the allies must capture. The battlefield offers hazards such as these buildings which do hamper the way you can approach an objective but they can also offer cover such as trees etc. the engine allows you to zoom in and out and view the game from any angle with its true 3D capabilities. The game will also ship with an editor for those who want to create some new maps for multiplayer gaming and perhaps the single player campaign style. The music already included is fairly suitable and what you would expect in a world war 2 game and the sound effects are already booming out of the speakers. Unfortunately the soldiers don't have voices in this build and we aren't sure if this is going to be changed for the final game.

While World War II games are nothing new, the RTS style of play offers something fresh and new to those players who just can't get enough of games based on this historical event. D-Day should offer something different to fans of the RTS genre, and the historians and people interested in the war alike will enjoy the great detail the developers have gone into to create not only a game based on World War II but one of the most authentic ever made. D-Day is currently scheduled to ship in August 2004.

 

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