PC REVIEW: CODENAME: PANZERS - PHASE TWO

Tanks. You're Welcome

Welcome to the wonderful world of tanks. This is the follow-up game to Codename: Panzers, Phase One. It's not a sequel and you don't have to play the original - not that anyone did. It was a damn good game but it just got buried in the avalanche of RTS offerings last year. Phase Two offers more of the same great strategy with more focus on the story and real time action.

With little in the way of micromanagement, Phase Two lets you get down to the business of blowing things up with tanks. The environments are totally destructible whether you're shooting up cities or the European countryside. Inspired by real life events from WWII, Phase Two offers more cutscenes and narration which gives us a deeper understanding of the storyline. It's not fantastic by any stretch with some ham-fisted lines and B-movie situations but it does a good job of keeping us focused on our objectives and motives. I won't call it an interactive movie but it's in the neighborhood.

Units are divided into three sections: Artillery; Infantry, and Tanks. It's the tanks that everyone wants to get their hands on and the game doesn't disappoint. If used correctly they can be incredibly powerful and effective for changing the tide of war. Tank units will gain experience much the same as in a RPG. By having experienced characters in your class you will reap the rewards of better aim, better maneuverability and ultimately better tanks. You'll have a vested interest in protecting these experienced characters which makes for more intense and strategic gameplay since you don't want to waste your best guys on a guess.

There are different ways to win most battles. Take the time to explore as many options as time will allow. You may not want to experiment with your best guys but you can afford to send a few rookies into a potentially deadly situation. The upgraded class will more than make up for any small mistakes that you may make. Look for different routes into a town and don't forget to take cover or lie in ambush.

Tanks have the ability to shoot other tanks with their cannons in addition to knocking things over such as trees, buildings, walls and power lines. Infantry is basically useless against a tank but they can still use flamethrowers to heat them up and force the enemy out. The armor of a tank is thinner at the rear so it's best to take them on from that position as opposed to a frontal assault where the armor is thicker.

In each mission you have a certain allotment of artillery strikes and air support that you can use. Knowing when to use it is where the strategy comes in. A new feature is night battles in which you can turn off your headlights and basically disappear. It comes at the expense of a decreased visual range.

The multi-player mode accommodates up to six players and doesn't rely on any specific missions or campaigns. It's basically a free-for-all in which you attempt to eradicate the enemy by any means possible. It's not a particularly deep mode but it's a hell of a lot of fun.

The graphics are a little dated. They aren't sharp or well detailed. The isometric perspectives are rather distant which makes it a little difficult to get a perfect aim. The fog of war limits the visibility but there are icons that warn you of the various off-screen activities. You will encounter some pathfinding problems. They mainly occur with winding roads but at least your troops will engage the enemy when they encounter them without having to be told twice.

Codename: Panzers, Phase Two is an accessible strategy game that can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages and skill levels. There is a sense of freedom that lets you explore more sophisticated degrees of strategy as you yourself gain more experience with the gameplay. With both the single and multi-player modes you can expect a lot of replay value out of this game.

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System: PC
Dev: Stormreign
Pub: CDV Software
Release: July 2005
Players: 1
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
4.0