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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

CDV

 

Developer

CDV

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2007

 

 

- Great encyclopedia

- Experience system is well-implemented

 

 

- Ridiculous level of difficulty

- Poor pathfinding

 

 

Review: Blitzkrieg (PC)

Review: Codename: Panzers, Phase One (PC)

Review: Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (PC)

 

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Blitzkrieg II: Fall of the Reich

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

When the best thing you can say about a game is that it has a great encyclopedia, you know itís all downhill from there.  Itís a shame, because CDVís Fall of the Reich, the Eastern front standalone expansion to Blitzkrieg II, has the potential of its predecessors, the innovative series that spawned it.  For the unfamiliar, the Blitzkriegs are WWII strategy games which occupy that tricky no manís land between resource-gathering RTS clickfests and more authentic tactical simulations Ė a hybridized market that more and more developers seem to be vying for these days.  Itís also a difficult place to create a game, often resulting in projects that donít succeed in either role as RTS or simulation.

 

blitzkrieg ii fall of the reich          blitzkrieg ii fall of the reich

 

2005ís Blitzkrieg II did a fairly good job of straddling the RTS / wargame line, despite some snags with unit spotting and pathfinding.  The problem with evaluating how well Fall of the Reich does at continuing Blitz IIís success is that its inhuman difficulty level prevents any objective evaluation.  To say FOTR is a challenge is a little like saying that life for an actual soldier on the Eastern front was a challenge -- ie. itís a colossal understatement.  No, this game is hard -- ridiculously, stupendously hard.  This game is so hard that, on its easiest setting, I had trouble getting past the first few campaign missions until I downloaded (donít 

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follow my bad example, kids) a trainer that gave me unlimited reinforcements.  And even that didnít help much, only created a higher body count before each exhausting victory.

 

Most missions in FOTR find your small starting force facing overwhelming odds and immediate and devastating enemy fire.  Often, the only choice is to either go slowly and

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take huge artillery casualties or charge ahead and take larger casualties from enemy units who open fire long before theyíre visible.  (The binocular command that aided enemy spotting in Blitz II has been removed for some mysterious reason).  Even the hardiest units like Russian and German heavy tanks are mincemeat if the player looks away for a second too long.  Infantry seem particularly vulnerable to virtually everything, and most of my strategic infantry decisions concerned finding safe places for them cower until there was something they could actually do.

 

Unfortunately, while the game mechanics and interesting mix of units would, in theory, allow for some good old-fashioned combined arms tactics, in practice, the most effective strategy is rushing the objective blindly, blasting anything in the way Ė which is much less fun than it sounds.  On top of this, pathfinding problems are still epidemic, and wasting time corralling one straying unit usually means leaving three or four others to their doom.  Air units, though fun to sic on enemy tanks and defenses, are hard to control.  You either need to catch them in midair with a well-timed click or use the interface, which can be difficult and undependable.

 

blitzkrieg ii fall of the reich          blitzkrieg ii fall of the reich

 

One good feature of the game is the ability, between missions in the gameís dynamic (sort of dynamic) campaigns, to assign leaders to various units between battles as well as choosing new reinforcement units, though these features would be more enjoyable if anyone lived long enough to reap the benefits of buffing up.  The graphics and sound are also fairly good, though no different than Blitz IIís, a couple yearís back.

 

Like Ubisoftís Faces of War, FOTR is a victim of bad timing, coming out in the middle of a minor rennaisance in the RTS genre, with such games as Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander not just pushing the envelope but sealing it, stamping it and throwing it in the mailbox too.  That isnít exactly CDVís fault, but the developers might have been wiser to devote their time to a souped up Blitz III with cutting edge features instead of this tepid follow-up.

 

I tried FOTR simultaneously with Battlefrontís Theater of War, another unforgiving new RTS WWII strategy game with an equal level of challenge but a completely different concept and feel.  The difference is that, while both are maddeningly frustrating, I actually feel like I want to get better at TOW, whereas with Fall of the Reich, Iím just as happy to put in my reassignment papers.

 

- John Tait

(May 1, 2007)

 

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