Today's World War 2 games are usually historically accurate, such as Battlefield 1942, and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Then there's WW2: Frontline Command and Blitzkrieg, which are strategy games that remake the war from a commander's viewpoint even more realistically. How fun are they to play though? Let's have a look at Blitzkrieg, a strategy game made by Russian based Nival Interactive.
The game is 2D, and therefore it's really easy to get used to the controls and jump into the game. The gameplay in BK is a mixture of slow and fast paced warfare. At times you could be setting up defenses, while at others you could be waiting for an attack of unimaginable scale, or preparing to raid a small base with no mercy. Thats where it comes to the force that will be fighting this war: troops, tanks, boats, planes, trucks; it's all here. There is a variety of each of these forces, from mortar and machine gun troops, to huge Panzer IV tanks and Sherman tanks. The amount of difference between armies is so diverse, that there's more than 40 types of infantry, each with diverse weapons, and over 200 3d modeled vehicles in this game. Trucks play a huge role too, they supply your troops with ammunition and supplies, and even more troops to back them up. While trucks seem useless if all they do is reload and resupply, think again. They can build "Hedge-Hog" tank barriers, make trenches and build wire fences, along with carrying your warring soldiers to a destination, but much faster than if they would walk on foot, of course. Tanks aren't just counted for as one big piece of armour: they were made with armour in the front mainly, and can be nailed easily from the back. This opens up a lot more strategical possibilities for combat (like in real life). All soldiers and vehicles have attack values, armour, piercing, sight range and so on. In reality it might come down to things like this: a rocket soldier has higher penetration ratio against armor than a machine gunner, but cannot shoot at infantry with a huge success rate. Some units (called "Core" units) can gain rank and experience; you can even upgrade them by beating missions. By doing this, you can gain promotions and medals, which lets you have more "Core" units, thus letting you have a custom army. Overall the gameplay is very balanced, although it's a bit on the easy side (at least comparing with such games as Close Combat).
Then the AI comes to mind, "Is it really smart enough to put you at a real commander's headaches of strategy?" you ask, and to a point, it is. The AI for your own soldiers is smart enough to do what you tell them, such as Ambush or Dig in, and go in at an enemy from all angles. The unit pathfinding is awkward though, you can tell them to back up, and they will turn around instead, or you can tell them to move and attack at a position, and they sometimes won't attack what they see. Then the enemy's commander AI is even smarter, they will have tanks put in strategic positions, ready to rid you to shreds when you least expect it; you should always scout the terrain before advancing (preferably with the sniper unit, which is invisible to enemies when taking a position), because even though you may start out at a base with a small ridge on a road, there's most likely going to be an ambush in place really close to you. Th individual command of the computer AI is unalarmed: when you sneak in and spot a tank before it sees you, it won't fire, or if a squad of machine gunners is in a trench, they will fire at anything that looks like an enemy troop, but will be smart enough to not attack, conceal and take advantage against a tank.
There are 3 fronts available in the game, Eastern, Western and African, each having its own distinctive look and feel. The missions are very plentiful:you can take on campaigns, or unlimited random missions for a quest of experience and upgrades (which are earned each mission). All of the missions are real operations of the second World War, although Omaha Beach (which I've personally really wanted to see in there) isn't in there. The missions vary from "Defend the Station" to "Support Artillery". The auto-generated missions do tend to get boring after awhile, but there is also a map editor coming with the game too, for making your own maps.
The sound is done with a vibrant feel of the war. Germans speak German, Russians speak Russian and so on. All of the units respond clear as day, although some of the German and Russian units sound like they say "Up the butt" and "What the worldy?". Very weird stuff indeed. The music isn't plentiful, but it has a "war-feeling" to it. Tanks and trucks make screeches from the treads' metal scratching together, and it's kind of neat to hear for the first time. There's also a nice variety of sound effects for different types of guns and so on. Overall the sound does it trick rather well, or at least above average.
The static background graphics are colorful and diverse, they show a lot of detail on the terrain, including burnt or destroyed trees or buildings, or even rubble, it looks good down the the pixel. And although soldiers are little 20 pixel sprites (or more based on the resolution), they're still soldiers with guns, hats, uniforms and grenades, all of which can be seen. There is even tiny details on the tanks, forgotten in other games, such as the rust on the treads, fuel tanks on the Panzer, and even little machineguns on the turrets. Although the game isn't in 3d, it looks great. The animations are smooth and steady, soldiers smoke (cigarettes), trees explode, water ruffles, and people die, with the bodies even staying on the battlefield. The tanks' treads moved steadily, and the whole tank rocks when it comes to a stop. Tanks also can have treads blown out by mines, which looks really cool, and is a great graphical addition to strategy and beauty.
Completely healthy buildings can be destroyed and shot up, and even show the damage being dealt. This adds to visual quality because everyone has a little evil in them ;). There are also black and white historical video clips from the war, showcasing each of the fronts and the different armies preparing for the war on that front. People who are into WW2 history might enjoy this small but nice addition. The history doesn't stop there however, as there is a complete vehicle database with small paragraphs telling about each one, from a flak cannon, to a M10 Wolverine. And one important thing that I forgot to mention: all of the vehicles are actual 3D models, not just some 2D sprites like the infantry soldiers.
This is the true strategist's dream. Players have their own strategies, some of which are very deadly. Rushing is straight out, because a dug-in Tiger tank can wipe out an army. Online is a little laggy though, unless you have cable users, but if you can get a good lagless game going, it's pretty unforgettable. You can also play on a LAN, which is very fun if you can get your dad to buy a copy of this.
A great buy for below 40$, it is a very strategic game and requires you to think through many an option. Any WW2 fanatic or even maybe a historian would fall for this game; it made me think of the original C&C and Close Combat games, and those two were great game. Some people will be glad to know that there is a map editor in the game (even though hard to figure out without a manual) and unlimited missions, so the replayability value is very high. The game may have a few pathfinding glitches, and a hard to learn Map Editor, but with the great multiplayer (if you can get a good game in), above average graphics and sound, and extreme replayability make this a classic. The historical accuracy of this game is unmatched. Enjoy.