This unknown real-time strategy game surely doesn't have enough quality to step out of the dark. The game puts you in command of allied and German forces during the last two years of WW2 on the western front. Missions are inspired by actual battles that took place in this period. With very nice graphics and some nice ideas, the game fails to be at least average in all other parts.
There are twenty battles and each battle in different campaigns is the same, giving you opportunity to play them from either sides. Before each level, you will get a level code, short briefing and hear a digitalized voice reading the same briefing. No matter what's going on in each mission, you always need to destroy all enemy units. Except for the 19th mission with allies, you have no time limits to do this.
You move your units on an isometric map. If you select a unit, a small window will appear with four orders: move, attack, retreat and hold area. You will be mostly using the first two orders. The selected unit has a select box around (like in C&C) and you see three color boxes with letters MDA above them. This goes for morale, damage and ammo. There are some packages that will heal and encourage the unit scattered across the level that can be picked up by any unit, including enemies. If a unit starts to panic, try stopping it (hold area) and then move it back (retreat).
The variety of unit types deserves praises. You have infantry with guns and grenades, bazookas, mine throwers, heavy machine guns, different vehicles like jeeps, trucks, several armored vehicles, cannons, missile launchers etc. Landscape is very well designed. You have higher and lover ground that effects battles, surrounding objects like trees, stones, barricades and wires, city environment with many different houses and buildings, streetlights, even animals and civilians, and all this can be destroyed. Also, there are missions during night, rain... Now, those were the really good parts.
Now there are a lot of very bad parts and the biggest ones are path finding and AI of both yours and enemy units. Generally, units will find their way easily on the open field, but if they are between walls, fences or on streets among buildings, well, you'll need to keep the destinations for your units very simple. It's not just that the units may get lost, they can even finish somewhere on the opposite part of the map, stuck into a house or into each other or even circling around the tree!? Don't even dream of selecting many units and telling them to cross the bridge expecting that they will organize themselves how to do it. The first few units will do this with no problem, but all those units behind... And then sometimes when you become sick with bother like this and give them impossible command, they suddenly move and regroup perfectly. Don't hope that this will happen often.
As for the AI, you'll find units shooting on their own units to be the most irritating. They don't get confused, but they will shoot the enemy unit at all costs. Imagine a single enemy infantry unit moving between several of yours, while grenades, bullets and rockets are fired from every side. Yap, it's that bad. And sometimes few enemy units will be moving beside one of yours and nobody will shoot anybody. Also, units start shooting when the enemy is in range not caring if the shot is impossible. You can live with this when there is a building or a tree between yours and enemy unit when you can watch those units shooting and throwing grenades at some poor innocent house, but when two of your tanks are moving towards the enemy, one is a little behind and simply shoots the tank in front of it because it is in the line of fire, now that is something else. Yap, it's that horrible.
If you are the attacking side, enemy units will simply patrol their own small area until you get so close that they emerge on you. You can use a single (and possibly fast) unit to get close to the enemy and then head back for enforcements. No matter how much the enemy unit is damaged or far away from its army, it will emerge toward the unit it once spotted till the end. If you are the defending army, the enemy will mostly attack by the pre-ordered routs while your forces are scattered across the town or the field, so you'll need to regroup them fast (possibly near a cannon or tank) in order to provide some defense. Speaking of this, soldiers can enter some vehicles and vehicles can move cannons and rocket launchers.
Morale sounds like an interesting feature and generally the morale of units is influenced by the situations. A unit under fire, a lonely unit among the enemy, a unit defeating the enemy unit... all those things are effecting the morale. But generally a unit will start to panic if it is constantly under attack. The problem is illogically low moral of the vehicles, especially tanks, while infantry's is almost unbreakable. So, after some fighting, your lonely tank is again attacked by a single infantry unit and turns to run. Armored vehicles are not immune to bullets and grenades in this game, but imagine a tank running away from a few guns? And every panicked unit runs upwards. What's upwards, why doesn't the unit run back to the friendly side? The attacking side sometimes gets the air support or support from the ships. The only way to check this is to search the entire edge of the map for the proper button. There is no other way to see if you have support and will you have it again after some time, except by checking the edge. And if you are unlucky enough, this game just might get under your skin and make you play it until you beat it.
This game should be an example that shows that good graphics and make-up don't make a good game. War and strategy fans should give it a try, as the game has some interesting stuff. Unfortunately, there are much more things that can be quite irritating, but perhaps someone will be willing to beat it because of that. Once again, you might give this game a try because of some things, but don't expect it to be good.
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