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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Real-time Strategy

 

Publisher

CDV Software

 

Developer

Stormregion

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 2004

 

 

- Excellent graphics and presentation

- Focus on strategic battles

- Quick to learn but long to master

- Excellent variety of units

 

 

- Some minor AI issues

- Missions can become slow paced

 

 

Review: Soldiers - Heroes of World War II (PC)

Review: Perimeter (PC)

Review: Ground Control II (PC)

 

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Codename: Panzers, Phase One

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

The beauty of games like Panzers in the RTS genre is that there is no messy technology tree or base building. For me, I tend to love the satisfaction of climbing through all possible upgrades and creating the ultimate factory of conquest with which to dominate my opponent. On the other hand, games like Codename: Panzers: Phase One and this year’s somewhat similar Soldiers: Heroes of WWII is that the satisfaction of conquest is replaced entirely by the feeling of accomplishment in defeating your opponent through sound strategic maneuvers and good decisions. Without having to focus on a base or resource collecting, the gamer is forced to pay all attention to their units and their battles.

 

codename panzers          codename panzers

 

Panzers has three campaigns; a Russian, a US and a German campaign. In each you will have a variety of objectives to fulfill. The overall story of each mission is joined loosely by the notes written by the hero character you are playing and is displayed in between missions. There are also cut scenes that are done in-engine as well. Although the character animations aren’t perfectly dynamic, the effect is quite impressive as this shows versatility in the game’s graphical engine. While present the story doesn’t exactly drive the game but does at least provide a face with which to follow through the events of the missions.

 

When you first begin, you will be provided with a smattering of units to start off with. When your units are killed, because there are no bases or resources, you cannot recruit more or obtain more forces during the mission. Instead, through careful strategy, if you are able to keep your units alive, they will gain experience points. These points are carried over from level to level and your units can gain 

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rank and level by accumulating experience points.

 

Before you begin a campaign, you will be asked to select a difficulty level. On easy mode, if your troops die, they will not lose their experience points, and they will be available to you in the next level. On medium difficulty, your troops that were lost will be replaced in the next level, but will have lost all of their experience. Lastly, on the hardest difficulty setting, lost troops will not be replaced at all. Except 

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for the easiest setting, this forces gamers to plan their attacks very precisely to ensure that their units are not lost in battle. Experienced troops are more effective on the battlefield and are a definitely an asset to be protected.

 

The actual gameplay is fairly basic. You have a variety of different types of units and there a set of objectives that you must complete. Generally, this includes taking control of a given area on the map or destroying a number of specific targets. However, there are also some more subtle goals such as finding a way to sneak into a fortress undetected. On some maps there will even be multiple ways in which to reach a certain area on the map that you must get to. The control scheme will be familiar to all strategy gamers as it a standard combination of hot keys and mouse clicks.

 

The type of units available is quite varied and overall the units are balanced. There is quite a bit of detail in the authenticity of the different tanks and in the types of artillery. Your troops available all have their place and there is quite an art to selecting the right mix of units towards ensuring victory. However, all gamers are sure to find their own preferences. For instance, I love to use the enemy’s artillery and tanks against them. As such, I like to have a strong flamethrower and tank crew presence in my army in order to heat up the enemy’s tanks and then take them over with my own tank crew.

 

codename panzers          codename panzers

 

During the game, you are also able to call in air strikes, recon planes, and paratroopers as reinforcements on a limited basis. From one mission to the next, depending on your performance, you will earn prestige points. These points can be used towards purchasing more units, or swapping old units for new ones between missions. As you progress through the missions, you will also have more and better vehicles available to you. This follows the development of tanks and artillery as the game progresses through the timeline of the war.

 

The presentation of Panzers is very good. The graphics are very detailed and the world animation is excellent. The explosion effects are great, too. When bombarding a building with artillery, the sound coupled with the excellent effects really lends to the experience of pounding a building to dust. Also, as tanks roll on, they will destroy trees by pushing them down. Again, the sound effects along with the excellent graphics really help to involve the gamer in the full experience.

 

About the only complaint that I have with Panzers is that the missions can sometimes be slow paced. In order to prevent your units from becoming killed so that they do not lose their experience, the missions can become a slow affair of quick loading and trying to find the perfect way to take out series of gun emplacements. Sometimes the only way to do this is to exploit the sometimes-dimwitted AI. A perfect example of this is that sometimes you can shell a piece of artillery to death without it ever firing back at you. Also, the AI path finding of your own troops can be dicey at times especially when trying to maneuver your units around the enemy rather than engaging them.

 

Codename Panzers does an effective job of stripping away the standard base building options and replacing them with a strategic core for battles that is thoroughly engaging. The single player campaign is sure to keep most gamers busy for some time. Rounding out the value of the package is the standard multiplayer options. Also, with so many units, gamers are sure to find new ways to challenge themselves when playing through the single player portion again. Complimented by a beautiful presentation, strategy gamers should definitely add Codename Panzers to their play list. With Phase Two planned, one can only relish the possibilities of what is yet to come.

 

- Mark Leung

(November 11, 2004)

 

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