A Review by Barnes

Games come and go in fad's at any one time you can find a glut of certain game types, now sometimes this can be a bad thing, and other times it can be a blessing, something that has beena mainstay now for quite a few years is WWII RTS games, they've been kicking around for a long time! and recently there's been a real large batch come into us to review, over the last month, gamesxtreme has reviewed Desert Rats vs Africa Korps and Blitzkrieg: Burning Horizon and now we've been given a copy of Codename: Panzers for review, as a fan of RTS games, its a great time to be a reviewer!

So, Panzers is set during World War 2, to induct you into the games style very quickly, its not strictly a full real time strategy game, there is no base building element at all, you cannot restock your troops by building a barracks or overwhelm the enemy simply with force, you begin missions with a set amount of troops, if these troops die then its game over for you!

Codename: Panzers includes around 30 missions, which will be spread over three campaigns. The German campaign will run from the invasion of Poland to the siege at Stalingrad in 1942. From there, you'll pick up as the Soviets, until the fall of Berlin in 1945. The third and final campaign will let you play as the Americans and British during the liberation of France in 1944. So this is a vast game, there is a large variety in level design, layout, battlefield style and also a huge array of units at your disposal, alongside your own units and vehicles is the ability to steal enemy tanks and gun emplacements, all you have to do is get rid of the enemy troops that are manning it.

Gameplay is not too difficult to get the hang of, its a fairly standard and easy to learn left and right click system for unit designation, then at the bottom of the screen are all the movement and order buttons you'll need, such as the attack, defend, advance, overwatch, all those kind of manouvers, you can also give your troops the options to run,stoop and crawl, these are very important in the game as running troops will give away their positions too easily, but crouched and crwaling troops are pretty much undetectable. Vehicles have armour on front, rear and both sides, apparently the game developers have gone for the most realism they could, where in other RTS games, a large force of machinegunners will take outa tank, in this you're not even going to scratch the paintwork! you're going to need serious armament to take out tanks, this can however be used to your advantage, simply assign a squad of infantry to a tank and they can run behind it guarded from the enemies fire until they get close enough to open fire themselves and butcher the opponents!

As I mentioned earlier, the ability to steal vehicles is quite useful, to steal artillery you simply need to kill the crew, however, this is not so easy with armoured vehicles and tanks, they don't tend to want to come out to play so you have to take matters into your own hands, if you are fortunate enough to be equipped with flamethrowers you simply heat up the vehicle until your opposing crew start to cook, then when they jump out to cool down, finsih them off and steal their ride. Nothing like a good old fashioned car jacking!

As I mentioned before its very easy to forget you have limited resources, also from past experience of RTS, its difficult to get attached to troops that are just generic machine gunner, or tank driver 1, so Panzers has a very interesting way of attempting to make you become attached to your troops, they've trown in a RPG element to the game, you gain individual XP points for your troops, this allows them to progress levels to veteran status, each level they progress, increases their accuracy, gives them more health, and other such things, this means you really do try harder to keep your men alive, a small squad of veterans will hold off an attacking force of green recruits.

The story is well sculpted with many cut scenes inbetween battles to help build the characters and progress the storyline of the war, its a well structured single player campaign, alongside this is a well thought out multiplayer option, which allows you to play all missions through co-operatively whilst also giving you a few multiplayer game modes, including capture the flag, assault and all out deathmatch. Its a strong addition that is now essential in todays gaming environment

VIsually the graphics are strong, level design, vehcile designa dn movement annimations are fantastic, one of my favourite features is that pretty much everything on the battlefield is destructable, from the buildings, to the tree,s signposts, fences everything. There used to be nothing more annoying than playing a game trying to drive your tank through a fence and being stopped because it wasn't destructable, now, you really can assault a base from anywhere, its a real help when planning your assault to be able to think, right I can crash through those trees and hit the fence here and in I go!

Sound and audio are also very good, the music is fitting whilst not being too overpowering, it sets the scene whilst keeping you interested in the content of the game, the commands and shouts of your foot troops also help you to establish if your being attacked, or succeeding and warn you to approaching enemies. Its exactly what you need in a game of this nature.

Overall Panzer's is a good game that fits into a swelling market thats starting to become a little overcrowded, there are only so many of these games that can be made before they begin to get a little stale, Codename: Panzers doesn't suffer this problem yet, its still fresh and original whilst being an easy to learn game.