Blitzkrieg 2 Review
|Release Date:||October 14th (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Ben Atkinson (Jammin)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
I knew very little about the previous games in the Blitzkrieg series when I started this review, which perhaps is an ideal standpoint if you didn't play it yourself, you'll hopefully find out what to expect. From reading reviews of the first game and it's mission packs I had gathered that I wouldn't be playing a Command & Conquer style RTS, but rather a World War 2 RTS that focuses on historical accuracy, I must admit that this worried me a bit. After all I want to play games and not take part in a computerised documentary.
So for those of you who don’t know I’ll tell you a little bit about the basics of the game. As already stated this is basically an RTS, set in WWII, which does away with all that tiresome resource gathering base building malarkey. The aim of the game is to boss your army around the map and take strategic points, towns, gun emplacements and things you’d expect really. Your only resources are the limited reinforcements you have in reserve.
When I first started the game up, I was greeted with a beautiful intro movie, grass blowing in the wind, things blowing up, you know a nice summers day in Europe. I was impressed by the quality, I do love a good intro movie. The menus are also very smooth and pleasing to the eye.
However, I'm quite honestly not sure about the in game graphics, Obviously there have been improvements since the first game, the 3D engine gives the game some real scope. You can spin the camera round, zoom in and out, albeit only about 10ft each way. But what modern 3D RTS doesn’t have that? I mean, there is nothing wrong with the graphics at all, they just seem to me to be a little dated and not as good as they possibly could have been. Saying that though, there are some things that I really like. When Bomber’s drop a barrage of bombs onto your unsuspecting enemy it rains very pleasantly, then the explosions that follow bring a sly smile across your face. You can really see the destruction your causing. Artillery holes are a nice touch too. I would have liked a little better shading and more detail but perhaps that would have increased minimum system specs too high.
Now the sound for this game I really like, the first thing I noticed is that all the countries speak in their native tongue. Frequently games turn up where; a German voice actor would be English speaking with an accent. However that is not the case here and it definitely gives the feel of realism, even if half the time you don’t know what they are saying! The voice acting is more than acceptable; it doesn’t get annoying, because there isn’t too much of it, they have got the balance of things just right. Of course when you’re hearing the same repeated phrases in another language it just bothers you less, as you don’t know what they are saying.
The sound effects in Blitzkrieg 2 are what you would expect, very accurate, when your tanks start getting hammered by artillery, you really notice it, and obviously try your best to get the hell out of there. But you can react to the sound faster normally than what you see on minimap or just in front of you. Most of the tanks and infantry have quite distinct sounds which means you can pretty quickly know what to do when you hear certain sounds.
I noticed that straight away I was going to have a hard time playing Blitkrieg 2, even though I had only set the difficulty on normal, I found myself struggling trying to complete missions and objectives. This to me was such a breath of fresh air, maybe I’m incompetent or something, but it seems that playing this game is no where near a walk in the park. I imagine many World War 2 Generals would say the same thing about the war, which brings me on to my point, this seems to be a very realistic, well thought out WW2 RTS, a lot of time has gone into making this as realistic as possible. From the army kits in different situations, to the way tanks don’t actually explode but instead just smoke and stop working. Tanks don’t blow up, disintegrate then vanish! Well not usually anyway.
So, I quickly found myself back playing through the tutorial, you know, the one I should have played straight away. It was very pleasant to play, for the more advanced Blitzkrieg players you can skip all the bits you know already, or are just too bone idle to do, for me though, the entire tutorial was very helpful and gave me a really sound understanding of the game. While you don't always get good tutorials in games, it's more or less essential in different and challenging games like Blitzkrieg.
Another thing most RTS fan will probably notice quite swiftly when then play, is that there is no base building. So you’re wondering, "Where do I get my units from then?" Well, its quite simple really, you start every mission with a set amount of reinforcements that you can choose to use or not. There is a timer and every time it resets you can call in more reinforcements. Sounds easy enough? You also have to have a critical point on the map, a safe point where you troops can move in. The closest you can actually get to building a base is capturing a critical point, namely a warehouse. This is where all your little war fighting minions restock their ammo.
Another realistic touch feature is how ammo is distributed, as your troops run out of ammo, you have to find some way of getting them back in the fight re-armed. With an engineering truck, this isn’t a problem at all, however if you have gone into a minefield and your tanks tracks are blown, and he has nothing left in the barrel, things can become a bit more tense. I would not get too attached to your men either. Let's not forget that in WW2 and lots of people died, more than any other war ever fought and this is reflected in Blitzkrieg 2. Even when doing amazing high speed flanking maneuvers, a lot of your troops and tanks will suffer.
Directions play a big roll in attack, enemy installations normally have weak defences in the flanks and focus defence on roads into towns, and sporadic checkpoints. Tanks have armour rating on each side of them, usually being weakest on the back and sides, so obviously if you catch a panzer division going up the road past you, you will try and sneak up behind them and blow the hell out of them. Even if you do flank though, don’t expect to be "pwning" all the tanks with your amazing timing, no, quite a few of your tanks will probably die, those panzer’s are going to fire back, and it is going to hurt!
One of the best aspects outside of actual game play, is the encyclopaedia, which has probably the most definitive list of WW2 equipment I have probably ever seen. Has lots of information about the tanks and troops you are using. I spent many an hour reading it, I dare say it's so good it should be sold alone! Well probably not, but its definitely worth a look, it's very interesting.
So onto the basics of the game; the controls and the menu bar. The menu bar is very clear and concise, giving you all the information when you need it, although for some reason you have to enable upgrades manually as your tanks level up and gain extra abilities, this is a small problem however. Another thing which I find slightly annoying is the controls. They seem a bit odd, although I have now got used to them, I couldn’t find a way of changing them either. What would normally be attack move, is in fact the button for defence mode. Even after playing this game for several hours, when I was in a really fast chaotic situation, I did find myself pressing the wrong button to my own frustration. Sometimes the A.I. for your men is quite irritating also, ordering them to move to a point, sometimes they take the oddest routes, this has hopefully now been improved with a new patch being released just yesterday. On the whole these are just small problems and irritations anyway.
Blitzkrieg 2 is a game that really grew on me, when I first started playing it I found it quite hard to get used to as it was quite different from other RTS’. But now I have finished the review, it's difference is the reason I like it, and that’s one of its best points. You simlpy can’t run around with shed loads of men, because you have to wait for them, you can’t suicide men around, because you might not be able to get more. This game is fantastic for what it is, a fun and realistic World War II RTS. Should you buy it? Well for the average RTS fan, there are definite elements that you would find fun and enjoyable. For a WW2 game fan I would also again say yes, this game is probably for you. For the wider market of gamers, this game might be less accessible however I would definitely try the demo and see if you like it, there is a lot of fun to be had with Blitzkrieg 2.
- Superb Encyclopaedia
- Staggered Campaigns across several fronts
- German Campaign!
- Good sound
- A definite challenge
Not so good stuff
- Annoying A.I. at times
- Graphics seem a bit dated
- A few minor bugs
- Can sometimes be repetitive
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