World War II RTS
1C Company is Russia's biggest publisher and distributor, with significant influence throughout Europe itself. Though their brand obviously hasn't penetrated deep into America, except perhaps for their in-house development studio, 1C: Maddox Games, they have had quite a few titles under development back in the Motherland. Some of these have already made their way into the North American market, such as Soldiers: Heroes of World War II. Others are just maturing right now and will be released in the coming year or so.
Two of the most impressive World War II titles we saw this year were RTS games from 1C. These are not the traditional base-building strategy titles, but are more oriented towards tactical combat. Unlike a game like Codename: Panzers however, both titles from 1C are deeply realistic and offer the player a multitude of tactical opportunities related to the environment, their enemies, and so on.
The first of the games we were shown at 1C was the rather obviously named "World War II Real Time Strategy". WW2RTS is of course a tactical game, fitting in at about the company level - at least in terms of tanks. The game is running on a modified IL-2 Sturmovik engine, which looks quite good and was quite adept at portraying ground battles in the demo we were shown.
WW2RTS offers a vast selection of accurately modeled units which are playable across 70 missions. Not only are these missions historically accurate, but so is the interaction between the units themselves. An M3 or M5 Stuart tank, for example, has no chance of destroying a Tiger or Panther frontally, but it can be used to distract its attention while a heavy anti-tank gun is being towed into place. Like in Combat Mission, all vehicles have crew. The crewmembers have morale and skill ratings, which affect both their willingness to do the job and ability to do it efficiently. Crew can be injured, panicked or killed outright. A tank without a loader isn't much better than a tank without a gunner.
Of course, it's not all about tanks. There are artillery units, trucks, anti-tank guns and of course infantry. Above them all are aircraft, which aren't directly controllable but can be called in to bomb or strafe particularly difficult targets. Since the missions are historically accurate, aircraft aren't always available nor are you guaranteed historic performance from them (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how they really did).
But really, the appeal of WW2RTS comes down to the same appeal that Combat Mission has: an almost asinine level of detail. Later German tanks are not only camouflaged accurately and equipped historically, but are coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic paste to stop magnetic tank mines. The Zimmerit isn't just coded into the game, it's actually visible on the vehicles. As are other options, like armored side skirts for certain Panzer and StuG tank variants, which are there to reduce the effectiveness of shape-charge (HEAT) weapons.
World War II RTS is expected to be available in Q4 2005 and is being developed in-house by 1C.