The RTS genre has been stale for a long time. Build your base, gather your resources, pump out units en masse and destroy the enemy’s production as fast as possible while trying to protect your own. Whether you’re playing Dune II or WarCraft III, the basic formula has remained much the same. Twists on this, like Heroes in the latest Blizzard game or the Titans and gods in Age of Mythology, simply put the core concept in a different light, they don’t change it.
There are games that have either put limits on the importance of economy, such as Kohan, or put it beyond the scope of the battle – like in the Total War series, where units are bought with points in multiplayer or built in the turn-based strategic map in single player mode. The end result is to put more emphasis on the strategy and tactics in each game, respectively.
Codename: Panzers does away with all semblance of an economy completely. Rather, it takes a page from SSI’s classic Panzer General and rewards players for their performance after a mission with Prestige points. Prestige points are used to upgrade units or buy new ones. The player can take control of one of three commanders, American, German, or Soviet, and lead him and his retinue on a campaign. Invading Poland in 1939, the German commander has only a Pz II and a Pz I with him. However, later, he can requisition upgrades for these units, like a Pz III F, or buy new units completely.
The amount of prestige available is directly proportional to the success of the mission. The more men the player loses, the less prestige he receives. Difficulty settings affect the quality or even very existence of, replacements. If you lost your experienced squad of medics on Easy, you’ll get them back. On medium difficulty, those medics will be replaced but only with inexperienced troops, and on hard there are no replacements. This is an interesting way of setting up difficulty levels but it does work. Early missions tend to be easy no matter what, but the curve does increase at a steady pace. Later on, less experienced players playing on easy mode will find themselves with fairly large forces to control.
In multiplayer, the server admin selects the time period – early or late war – and the number of prestige points available to players. Once everyone is done buying, the rumble starts. Up to 8 players can play on two team deathmatch, domination or assault mode. There are also co-operative maps.
The AI isn’t a very competent opponent in any of the multiplayer modes but it does do better in single player, since it has the advantage of being set up by a human hand and generally superior numbers – though rarely, if ever, at any given moment. The multiplayer is quite basic but enjoyable.