There are plenty of reasons to have high expectations of Blitzkrieg II. Developer Nival Interactive has proven with nearly all of their titles that they can deliver decent games. And as a publisher, CDV must be the most appropriate partner for any World War II strategy game with their experience from titles as Sudden Strike, Combat Mission, Codename Panzers and the original Blitzkrieg. Read on to see what this sequel has to offer.
The biggest selling points of this game are definitely the campaigns. Soviets, Yankees and Germans have their seperate pathways laid out in a succession of several scenarios. In each scenario you can skip some missions if you want and just choose which one you want to complete first, which adds some replayability. The variety of missions is top-notch, it’s surprising how Nival succeeds in refreshing the mission goals (and that for an rts in which you have no real base-building). From time to time there are some cinematics shown too; historical black-white recaps of the war and the outro’s (which are in full CGI). The movies aren’t of world-class quality but it’s good to see that there are still some developers/publishers left that are willing to spice up the campaign with intervals like this.
Of course, after a while you get the feeling that you’ve seen this all before. It’s still very Blitzkrieg-like, there aren’t any new features that really stand out and change the whole feeling and control of the game when compared to the original. It’s just bigger and more refined. Not something that fans will be upset about I guess.
There is the night theme on some maps which makes for some beautiful sights and nice tactics. With the full control over airplanes and ships there are even more interesting additions. The airplanes are difficult to handle though and the sea combat is a bit underwhelming. The four types of ships aren’t that spectacular, there is never that ‘big fleet’ joy you would expect from the sea battles of World War II. The focus is still on the land combat and there you can work with all the vehicles and infantry units you could possibly dream of. The encyclopedia describes all 250 (!) units in a proper way.
As we mentioned earlier in our hands-on preview, this ain’t a game for rushers. There are so many things you need to take into account before attacking that every time you launch a full-blown assault it will mostly lead towards utter defeat. You need to be cunning, see what kind of defences the enemy has obtained and ultimately hold your own units back from time to time. Their default behaviour makes them pretty aggressive so it’s best to control everyone with the set AI-options like ‘Hold Position’. While the pace is slow, the game never feels more boring in comparison with other rts’s. The interface has changed since Blitzkrieg I, it now takes up the whole bottom of your screen but it doesn’t get in the way and you can hide the whole bunch till only the map and the reinforcements button are left. In the end, the default interface gives the player enough information on the health, armor and ammo status of his troops.
The quality of the engine is pretty fair; it doesn’t focus on gorgeous zoomed-in fights with lots of detail like other strategy games are doing but the real spectacle is to be seen from above, right when a city is bombed to dust or when chaos errupts if the enemy is coming from all sides. The tank ‘laser beams’ are still there but I have the impression they were sharpened a bit in comparison to the preview version so they aren’t that remarkable anymore. So, there are obviously WWII rts’s with better looks but this engine does the job just right. Another worthy mention is the sound. The effects and voices you’ll hear are realistic, a German speaks German, no English with a funny Arnold-wannabe accent here. The music is very loud, bombastic but most importantly: a right choice for the WWII theme. It’s almost over-the-top because there is no pause to it but it’s easily one of the main reasons for not getting bored too quickly. The tracks will variate when playing with each different side or when you suddenly get into a combat scene.
The multiplayer mode only provides ten maps, so we don’t get too spoiled in this area. Of course, if this game delivers a vibrant community there will be plenty of custom made maps since a quite easy-to-use map editor is included in the full package. Too bad you can’t try the already available multiplayer maps in some kind of skirmish mode though, there is only a custom map option for fanmade works.
There aren’t many things you can disapprove in Blitzkrieg II. The developers have created a more versatile campaign setup, provided more units than before and implemented a completely 3D, up-to-date graphics engine. The gameplay itself feels the same for the most part and that means you’ll get a good experience out of it, just like with the original Blitzkrieg. Not innovative at all but decent enough to warrant a purchase.