wowed the gaming world with their tactical turn-based extravaganza, Silent Storm
, but this wasn’t their first tactical World War II strategy game. Before Silent Storm was Blitzkrieg, a real-time strategy game that pitted the player as leader of German or Allied forces in a variety of tactical battles. Similar to, but more complicated than the popular Codename Panzers titles, Blitzkrieg made some good attempts at realism.
One of the major differences, from a gameplay perspective, was the presence of armor and penetration values. Armor did not merely subtract damage like it did in Codename Panzers, but it had to be penetrated. Thus, while a gun might have good damage, it might not necessarily penetrate well. Blitzkrieg also permitted the player limited control of the air force, by designating targets for either patrol or bombing. Units, though having a notoriously low lifespan, could carry over from battle to battle, retaining their experience. Not all units of course, but the core group, much as in the old Panzer General series.
Blitzkrieg II polishes the game up in more ways than one. The most immediately obvious change is the switch to full 3D. The first Blitzkrieg and its expansions were 2D isometric games, like StarCraft or Diablo. With full 3D, Blitzkrieg permits better use of shadows and concealment, as well as the ability to zoom in and out with ease and of course change camera angles – all features that were impossible in the old 2D mode. The game is attractive enough, but the focus is clearly on getting it to run well on most computer systems. Predictably then, performance is quite excellent even at high detail levels and resolutions, despite this being a beta.
The game’s formula has not been fiddled with significantly at all. The player chooses his side and then leads it through a series of campaigns. Germany, for example, starts in France, goes to North Africa then Russia and so on. Each campaign has a series of selectable missions that can be played in any order, and once complete they unlock the final mission which is typically a massive battle with incredible starting resources and a large pool of reinforcements.
Reinforcements are now player-controlled, with a limit on how much support can be called and how often. After the timer ticks down, the player can call in the units available for this map, assuming he has unlocked all of them. Be they various kinds of tanks, tank destroyers, mobile artillery, anti-aircraft guns or aircraft, the game designers determine what can be brought in. There is no longer a core force of units that are brought along from mission to mission. Rather, as the player gains rank through his successes, he gets officers who are assigned to a type of unit (like Heavy Tanks or Light AA Guns) and gain experience. Once an officer has a level of experience, all his units benefit from it, eliminating the frustrations of trying to keep the core army alive.