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As you battle your way through Europe in the Second World War, the gameplay in Blitzkrieg is often intense as you attempt to control multiple troops across the gaming landscape in front of you. Mess up and it's game over; this is not a base building exercise akin to the C&C range. Admittedly this is nothing new or adventurous. However, it's the little things that make this a thrilling RTS. Don't feed the supply lines to your forward troops and they soon run out of ammo. If a unit or bunch of units does well, they improve their skill making them a vital asset in defeating the enemy.
Graphics are what we have come to expect from the old school RTSs and while this isn't the most graphically beautiful game you'll find on your PC, it not only means that you can concentrate on the gameplay, but it also means this game is available to everyone rather than a select few with the latest powerhouse machines.
Overall, this is a demanding and challenging RTS with some very nice features. Yes it's another WWII RTS from CDV, but when they make them this good, who cares. --Jason Denwood.
Progress through the game is rewarded through access to the latest warfare technology, so strategic guile is recommended.
Accept the challenge and launch your assault, and remember "Attack is the best form of defence"
The first thing you will notice is genuine 3d terrain. This is not a flat landscape with a few trees and bushes. Immediately you are presented with rolling hills and valleys which can hide your own or enemy units. Not only that but we now have detailed 3d units, not cardboard cut-out sprites.
Take artillery as another example of the development that has taken place. Sudden Strike was criticised as it was at times little more than a dull artillery bombardment to grind down the opposition. Now CDV have introduced artillery sensors to the game this has completely changed. If you fire off your artillery in Blitzkrieg before neutralising the enemy you will soon lose it to a hailstorm of retaliatory shells. You can also see very roughly where the opposition’s firing positions are too, which allows you to devise proper tactics rather than just fire shells off randomly into the darkness hoping you hit something. Snipers and Officers are equipped with binoculars and can sight for your artillery at long range if you know where to look.
Air power is also crucial to the game. Classes of aircraft include reconnaissance, fighters, bombers, ground attack and paratroops. Air clashes can decide the battle in the long run and do require a bit of strategic thinking. Only one air mission can be flown at a time by each side, so when the enemy sends out a recce plane do you send out fighters to bring it down or send out your bombers in the knowledge they can’t be intercepted themselves? Once you’ve lost your complement of aircraft they are gone for the rest of the scenario so care needs to be shown.
Troops are now collected into units of ten men with an officer and can operate in a number of different formations depending on the task at hand (defensive, aggressive, quick march etc.). They can also make use of defensive trenches that your improved engineers can build. If you lose men you can resupply your units to keep the full complement as long as at least one soldier remains alive. This resupply requires that you keep ammo dumps in your possession however, or capture those in enemy hands, as unlike Sudden Strike once your resupply trucks are empty they do not just automatically regenerate themselves. This again requires thought as if you can deny the enemy any sources of resupply and destroy his trucks you can quickly gain the upper hand through attrition of his forces. He will of course be trying to do the same to you so you always have to protect your vulnerable rear areas where possible.
One problem in other RTS games is your troops wandering off to perform suicidal attacks against an overwhelming or well dug in opposition. This has also been sorted out in Blitzkrieg by introducing an ‘ambush’ state of alertness for all units. If ordered to do so they will now hold position and react only when attacked themselves, allowing you to concentrate elsewhere on the battlefield.
The overall structure of the game is historical without being too chained to a text book. You can choose to be German, Allied or Russian and follow the Second World War through to its conclusion via a series of historical campaigns (Battle of France, Invasion of Russia, War in the Desert, Ardennes Offensive etc). Units are true to the relevant time of the conflict. Each campaign has a number of individual scenarios which again are based on historical battles which have a number of objectives for you to secure victory. A nice touch is the use of hidden objectives, for example in one mission for the Germans against the Russians you are told after completing the last of the objectives that you have four minutes to prepare defensive positions as the Russians are unexpectedly hurling armoured reserves into the counter attack - keeps the adrenalin racing! Success in these scenarios also determine what unit upgrades are available to you later in the game, and once you have finished the historical scenarios within a campaign you can take on random battles before moving onto the next one.
Another innovation from similar games is the use of ‘core’ units. These units stay with you throughout the war and gain rank and experience as they go (if you can keep them alive). This is a nice touch, and you’ll find yourself using these units very carefully as you try to look after your elite troops! I was also surprised to accidentally find out after restarting a disastrous scenario that the PC changes the positions of enemy units each time you start a new game. This means that you can replay the game without the boredom of knowing that the Russian artillery will always be here, or the German Tiger tank will always be hiding around this corner etc., and this was one of the things which did limit the single player replayability of Sudden Strike. Another refreshing change.
So this is undoubtedly a development of Sudden Strike but is it worth the entrance fee? In a word, definitely. This has enough development for fans of Sudden Strike to see it as a new game not an upgrade, and the parts of Sudden Strike that grated with those who didn’t like it first time around have been well and truly fixed. This is an intelligent RTS, where thought and tactics will always be necessary. If you prefer a build and rush game then please accept my sympathies and stick to the relatively limited Command and Conquer series, but if depth of gameplay is for you then I really can’t recommend Blitzkrieg highly enough.
A game of pure strategic Real-Time-Strategy you are pitted as one of the forces involved in WW2 both in Eastern, Western and African theatres of war. The campaigns are one per side (three in total) and consist of about 8-9 chapters, each concentrating on a separate stage of the war. During each chapter you are presented with an infinite number of random missions you can play through with your limited units to gain new weapons of war as prizes or to increase your troops' skills. Also there is one historic mission after completing which you can continue to the next chapter. Fight for Stalingrad 20 times? Your choice. Capture key bridges and cities 12 times? Your choice. The game has immense replayability.
During each mission you are granted a limited number of units, squads of troops, vehicles and artillery. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses and must work together to achieve victory. You can make your units dig in, prepare an ambush, deploy smoke grenades or change unit formations. All this is beautifully presented in the battlefield but won't push your processor.
All must get this game. It's a sure winner since the multipllayer presents you with infinite tactical possibilities and much fun!
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