Not so long ago we reviewed CDV’s Sudden Strike 2 and as luck would have it for you war strategy buffs, the masters of the WWII-based RTS game are back with another salvo. Blitzkrieg has been developed by a different programming team and although it feels very close to the Sudden Strike series superficially, once you scratch the surface there’s a number of marked differences.
Visually, the game’s style is similar to Sudden Strike, with the familiar isometric 3-D view, although Blitzkrieg looks far more polished and impressive. The units in particular are excellently modelled and animated, with over 200 vehicles and 40 types of infantry, each complete with an interesting historical description. Authenticity is high on the list of Blitzkrieg’s positive attributes.
Matters are really different when it comes to the way the main campaign is implemented. Unlike Sudden Strike’s linear campaigns, here we’re treated to three branching affairs which simulate the Allied, German and Russian war efforts respectively.
Each campaign consists of a number of chapters which are completed when a central mission (which is tied to an overall war aim) is finished. Before you decide to take on the main scenario, however, there’s a range of diverse sub-missions to pick from.
Success in these gains your troops experience and yourself medals and promotions (hopefully), plus new units can be acquired and utilised in the main battle. You also gain tactical advantages; for example, knock out a railway line in a sub-mission and train-based reinforcements will fail to arrive as they would otherwise have done in the main scenario. All this gives you the feeling that you’re a Field General in an extensive war effort, rather than some punter playing a series of challenging war games.
The actual core RTS gameplay is as you would expect; it’s pure war gaming with no base-building nonsense and with a healthy dose of realism to boot. For example, there are no Command & Conquer-style scenes where a bunch of infantry troops gun a tank to bits; they’re quickly pasted over the floor as they would be in real life (though if they get close, they can use grenades on the tank tracks to immobilise the behemoth).
Considerations such as supply lines are taken into account – your troops do have a limited amount of ammo – but the way the system works is quite simple and revolves around making sure you take control of certain supply depot points on the map. The developers have got the balance right here; there’s realism, but it doesn’t make the gaming tedious.
Blitzkrieg isn’t without its problems though. The interface is a little clunky and with the many different commands and formations for the various units you control it can feel rather overwhelming initially. Path-finding problems that crop up intermittently make directing your skirmishes more frustrating than fun at times and we experienced problems selecting units occasionally, which was highly annoying.
Despite these negatives Blitzkrieg is a welcome addition to the war gaming RTS fraternity. Perhaps the multiplayer mode could have been fleshed out a little more (there are only two modes of play and a selection of maps) and there’s a lack of one-off single player missions, but the extensive dynamic campaigns make up for this.