Written by  :  Eduardo Gabrieloff (34)
Written on  :  Sep 26, 2002
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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Take that hedgerow, soldier! And don't die at it! I love you, you know....

The Good

From the beach landings to the house to house fights in villages and towns, this game is nearly perfect. As with all games, it has its flaws. However, these are mostly outweighed by its qualities. The game comes with several different modes of play, including single battles, multiplay, and extended campaigns. It includes a mission editor, where you can create battles on the plethora of included maps. The game play is RTS, and you control about 12 groups of up to 10 men each. You can give each group of men orders, and (this is what has kept the series unique for all it years among its RTS peers) they follow orders depending on several factors, including morale and enemy presence. They think for themselves, in other words. For example, if you tell a sniper to charge a tank, expect to have a hesitant soldier. He may leave his cover to attempt to follow orders, but as soon as he hears enemy fire, he'll probably find cover once more, if he's not dead. If you order a squad of assault engineers, or even AB infantry, to attack the tank, the same goes, though sometimes you'll find units I would call "heroes," those brave enough to actually get as close as possible to the tank and try to kill those within. However, I also usually call these units "dead," because these feats are usually unsuccessful. There are, of course, units to destroy these tanks, but they are usually quite vunerable to enemy infantry because of their lack of infantry specific weapons. However, if these bazooka or panzershreck units, or any other units, exhaust their ammunition, they will scavenge the surrounding dead bodies for new weapons. The variety of units is not extreme, but it very efficiently gets the job done. There are several types of tanks and other mobile infantry for each side (you can play as both the allies and the Germans). There are snipers, assault engineers, machine gunners, recon, and general infantry troops to use, as well as mortars and anti-tank and anti-infantry guns. These all culminate in intense battles throughout the French countryside. The sounds of each gun are quite good, as are the screams of soldiers being pinned, routed, wounded and killed. You'll always know if troops are about to rout; they'll be screaming in fear. The battles are resolved by either destroying all the enemy troops, or letting time run out. You win by capturing key points on the maps, and these are marked by flags. These can either be important crossroads or buildings, and these buildings, which can either be solitary farm houses or even cathedrals in a sprawling city, can be several stories high, giving snipers and machine gunners great positions on the street fighting going on below. The true fun of this game is putting yourself into the game, imagining your troops running through the streets, imagining the intensity of your recon troops entering a house with a squad of the enemy hiding, setting up ambushes, etc. It is, in a very cliche but true way, like playing "Saving Private Ryan," or more accuratly, "The Longest Day," with your troops running through the streets of a beautiful French town. You can even order air strikes, artillery strikes and battle ship barrages.

The Bad

However, there are a few road bumps on this trip through Normandy. First, if you are getting through the maps quite quickly, sweeping aside the mediocre AI, you'll find yourself a bit bored defending the same maps. You will almost always see the enemy troops trying to break through in the same place, so you'll know how to plan. Of course, an incredible aspect of the game is the way your planning can so quickly be flipped on its head. There are times where your mortars are too incredibly accurate. If you use one to attack an anti-tank gun, expect the first shot to destroy it. Also, it can get extremely hard to keep track of all your troops, though that is expected in war.

The Bottom Line

In summary, this game is stagering. It has simple graphics that get the job done, great sound that lets you know how the battle is going, and a sophisticated way of ordering your units, letting them be humans, with fear, even though that same AI is at times lacking when playing against the computer. However, for a great WWII fix, try this game! It will make you feel like in the intense, terrible battles.