Everyone who calls himself a WWII-afficionado has had enough opportunities to prove themselves these few last years. In a lot of genres, games concerning WWII have been released. There are two genres, though, that rose head and shoulders above the rest. If you like to shoot, then you should have a look at Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Battlefield 1942 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The other genre is the RTS. We were spoilt with Sudden Strike (and its sequel) and many look-alikes. If you think the time of WWII-RTS has ended by now, you are mistaken, because Nival Interactive is releasing a game that resembles a lot to SS2.
Let’s start with giving some information on the game. Blitzkrieg isn’t a traditional RTS where you have to collect raw materials. At the beginning of each mission you receive (as in SS2), a number of troops (which may be reinforced during the game). You can drop some infantry soldiers from transport aircrafts during the game. You position your artillery, turn out your tanks, send out infantry units to clear enemy trenches and bomb a city with one (or more) bombers. All this with some simple mouse movements.
The main advantage of all this, is the fact that you can concentrate on the combat, while the state is paying for the war. The biggest disadvantage, however, occurs when your tanks are destroyed. The tanks are, in my opinion, the strongest units in the game, and without them, you can’t do anything. By pressing a button, you can call for air support. Then you’ll have to choose the type of aircraft you want. The aircraft will fly over and go right for its target. It is recommended to look for any enemy AA guns in the neighbourhood of your aircraft’s route beforehand. If you don’t do this, your aircraft will be shot down in no time. During the rest of the game, you can use the handy interface. The hotkeys are set very logically and after some practice, you’ll manage to control a whole army.
You can choose between an Allied, a German or a Russian storyline. The three storylines also represent the three different campaigns. If you choose the Allies, you have Sherman tanks and big B-17 bombers. On the German side, you get the renowned and strongest tanks of the battlefield, namely the Tiger tanks and the Panzer IVs. Also the motorbike and the machinegun are present. If you prefer Russia, your army consists of typical Russian warvehicles and an IL-2 fighter in the air. All sides are well-balanced as they have the same sort of material at their disposal, only the concept differs.
Have you got the point yet? Blitzkrieg wants historic correctness and achieves it wonderfully well. Every bit of army is shown very realistically (especially the German tanks) and the armoured vehicles have specific armour values for four parts: front, rear, sides and upper part. Besides that, every tank or artillery has a damage rating and an armour-piercing value. This makes the weapons even more realistic, because only when your armour-piercing value is higher than the armour of the enemy vehicle, you will damage that vehicle (with the amount of your damage rating).
One of the main differences with SS2 is the fact that the creators of Blitzkrieg added some RPG elements. You have, for instance, a fixed team of units that gains experience in three levels, also called ranks. This is comparable to the promotion system of C&C Generals, but only in limited units. This group consists of some artillery units and some tanks. After a couple of missions, you can start upgrading your units, because their are bonuses attached to specific missions. Thus, you will be able to upgrade one tank from a Panzer III to a Panzer IV after completing a mission that is qualified as “hard”. You also have an upgrade-centre, where you can provide all your core-units an upgrade, if they’ve deserved it, of course.
You’ll also have to repair and supply your units, using engineer units and supply-trucks. If, for instance, the crew of an artillerygun has died, you’ll have to bring new troops to the gun with supply-trucks to make it operational again. All the units use ammunition, so you’ll
Blitzkrieg has a multiplayer option in which you can kill your little brother in a LAN or your best friend through ip-adress or gamespy. There is a wide range of maps such as Tobruk and Operation Market Garden, that guarantee to keep you chained on your computer for a while. You can also make your own maps, scenarios and even a whole campaign with the well-made editor.
What about the graphics? Blitzkrieg uses 2D maps with 3D units. This allows to render the maps as well as the units very detailed. The terrain is completely transformable and the houses can be destroyed. The units are rendered very realistically. The disadvantage of a 2D map is the fact that you can’t zoom in…
About the sound, I can be brief. Very realistic sound effects and some nice tunes contribute to the atmosphere.
Blitzkrieg is a fun RTS with some innovations with respect to Sudden Strike 2, but it doesn’t grip very long. The campaigns will keep you chained on your screen for a long time, but the missions become representative after a while. Nice graphics and sound plunge you in a WWII atmosphere. Blitzkrieg sticks out a bit above most of the RTS games, but it isn’t good enough to be called a hit.