Graphics, sound, performance
Despite the improvements to the graphics engine, World War II Online can't blind you with the goodies. The scope of the terrain is remarkable as are the details on vehicles, but we're clearly looking at older technology. Don't go in expecting Far Cry.
However, it would be a sin to dismiss the graphical accomplishments of the game. Pretty might not be the word, but utilitarian certainly is - the game doesn't impress through brilliance but because it works. Infantry can and will find cover all over the places; in bushes, hedges, tree clumps and of course forests. Tanks seek out the cover too, in order to find a hull down position (ie, only the turret is exposed to the enemy), to lie in ambush for a coming enemy column or to avoid attracting the attention of the flyboys.
Even with the performance improvements we've had since originally posting this article, we're still somewhat disappointed at how the game runs when compared to PlanetSide, for example. At 1024x768x32 with maxed graphical settings, we experienced 20-35fps, depending on the location mostly. The original problem we had of sudden, massive slowdowns during combat in large cities and flight, has been remedied.
Sound effects which were praised in the original review are now about standard fare. The sound is still tactically important and the effects are generally up-to-date. There's a reassuring clink when a 50mm AP round is loaded into a Panzer IIIH, and the 88mm FlaK 36 fires its deadly charge with an incredible shrieking whoosh, but other effects seem missing. In tanks it's very hard to hear when you're being fired at, often the first warning is that a crew member is dead, even though you may have received 2 or 3 shots. Near-misses are completely unregistered. A 2lber can land a shot a foot to the tank's right but it's nothing we've heard inside.
Of course, if anything these situations are actually a highlight of how important the sound is to the game. Tanks shut their engines down when not moving in order to improve not only their own stealth, but to increase their situation awareness. Even with the engine just idling, it becomes very difficult to hear enemy tanks sneaking up, never mind infantry.