Codename: Panzers, Phase One Review

Developer: CDV Publisher: CDV
Release Date: September 30, 2004 Also On: None

The PC is flooded with World War II games; most of them not even worth mentioning. One wonders why the public even buys these WWII games. Is it because the parents want their children to play educational games? I doubt it, considering there are some very educational Sesame Street games out on the market. Is it because WWII was a very romantic war? While it may look like a romantic war, I really doubt gamers play WWII games to know the storyline. Is it because the gamer associates a couple of good WWII games with the entire genre? This is one of the best reasons why they sell so well. But there is another good reason that I neglected to mention, and while I don’t usually stomp on entire cultures and societies in my reviews, I will say that it is “American� to play these WWII games. You could even say it is our gaming pastime to play WWII games. And considering a lot, if not most, of my readers are Americans, how does Panzers stack up against the horrid majority of games in this genre?

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The gameplay of Panzers is great. It’s not like other RTS (real time strategy) games where just rushing wins the battle. In Codename Panzers, early war Panzer II tanks won’t stand up against more advanced tanks such as the T-34 in a head to head showdown. Artilleries (the long-range attackers) can also take down the most armored tanks. Each unit has their own advantages and disadvantages. The game also introduces five heroes, who lead your armies to victory. The tanks and artillery they control are stronger than the other units you have on your force. To prevent this game from being too easy, the developers limited the tanks you can have on a map (a very smart move).

A lot of the single player modes involve stealth and a ton of strategy. This game is NOT for the RTS newbs. For proof to its difficulty, I had trouble on the first missions. And I consider myself a good strategy gamer. If you’ve conquered Starcraft, then I think you are ready for this game. If not, go study some strategies and try to beat Starcraft with ease (I just fully realized that Starcraft is the standard rubric for all RTS games). The game’s entire style isn’t just taking all your troops after a couple of minutes and fighting your enemy in one huge showdown (not necessarily a bad thing though), but rather you have very limited amount of troops, so you should plan carefully. The multiplayer features in this game are pretty nice. Verse someone you don’t know or are familiar with, either way, it is still fun.

The graphics in the game are very impressive. There are many environments in the game, including dense forests, tight streets, and clear fields. Unlike other games such as Blitzkrieg, the environments have a lot of detail put into it. You can zoom in, out and rotate. The units all look spectacular. When you zoom out, you can make out each unit without difficulty and when zoomed in, you can almost see the expressions on their faces as they battle with enemy units. Not all is perfect though. When I first installed this game, I did encounter several graphical glitches. Nothing really bad, but I suspect it could be worse on other people’s computers. The sound, however is not as good. There were a few bugs, such as the recorded voices, which is amusing and a bit high pitched. Still, these bugs were almost unnoticeable, since I was so involved with the gameplay.

This game is extremely creative. You can parachute in reinforcements if you lose too many units, search out enemy units with reconnaissance planes, bomb the enemy with bombers, and use your heavy artillery to blast away at the enemy units. Another thing I must mention about this game is that it shows a good amount of focus on the story. Sure, historical games usually never have good storylines, but this game tries to show the backgrounds and personalities of the characters in the game (all through cutscenes). A big plus in my book for that.

As for replay value, expect a lot. There are 30 missions; each took a while for me to beat. In addition to the single player, the multiplayer also brings hours into this game. I wouldn’t say that the multiplayer is better than the single player is, but it comes pretty close. Expect around 40 hours or more if you like RTS games.

If you can stand the high difficulty and look away from the minor graphical glitches and mediocre sound, then you’ve got yourself a great game. If you are not a RTS nut, I suggest you play the demo, and if you like it, get this game when it gets cheaper. Codename Panzers is on my list for the top 3 RTS games of the year and my choice for the best WWII game of the year.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.6
Written by Simon Review Guide

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