I listed Codename: Panzers as a Simulation title while many other reviews I have seen have it listed as a Real Time Strategy (RTS) title. It is real time but I feel it is much more of a simulation than what I think of when the acronym RTS is used. RTSs also usually involve using low level units to build buildings and gather resources to allow bigger better units to be built and Codename: Panzers is more based around picking the proper force make up prior to starting a mission.
But that aside Codename Panzers is in my estimation a diamond in the rough and the rough part is getting it to run. I have loaded many a game and have worked through many a bug and I was totally frustrated by trying to get this game to run (just ask my editor). I started loading it up and two hours later was finished and chomping at the bit to get into the game. I had seen and heard many good things about this game and wanted to start running around with my Panzers before I ran out of time for the night. So I plop CD1 into my drive and fire the baby up . . .
. . . “No CD in drive please insert and hit continue,” or some such message. Tried the CD in both drives, as I read on their forum that sometimes it does not like the lower slot – I know it made no sense to me either but what the heck. No dice. Went back to the forum to post the question, and I find out you need to be registered to post. Sigh. So I decide to use my ‘power of the press’ and get their E-Mail information from my Editor.
I fire off an E-Mail and get a response (HA HA power of the press works) within 48 hours. The designer said he would look into my problem and get back to me. One week . . . two weeks . . . one month . . . I am about to delete the software from my machine but then remember some of the screenshots I had seen and bite the bullet and register at their forum and ask the question. Thirty minutes later I get a response “Are you using CD1 or CD3?” Seems that for some folk CD3 is the play CD. Now if a forum user knew that in 30 minutes why didn’t the designer tell me that a month ago? So I try this and voila I am playing.
Now for the Diamond part.
This game rocks. Ok I am not supposed to be that enthusiastic as I am a jaded game reviewer right? Well BULL! This game is fun to play. The units are beautifully rendered and the scenery is a joy to run through and I almost felt sorry to plow through a stand of beautiful trees with my lovely tanks! But those dastardly allied flamethrowers were on the other side and my foot troops would just take way too much time running around the stand of trees!
The tutorial is minimally useful and the manual adds a bit to that but all in all I did not have that bad a time figuring out the control system and I do not play these types of games all that much. You get to control a host of units (up to 25 is the max) that you get to pick when you start a mission or campaign and of the country you like to play best between Germany, Russia or the major Allies. I tend to like Panthers, so Germany was for me!
In Codename:Panzers you get to control almost everything that your units do, and the functions that get done automatically like repairs by repair units or resupply by supply trucks are not something most of us like to mess with anyway. We still need to get the repair or resupply units to where they are needed but once in the area they will do their thing without further ado. The grouping and control features are what has come to be expected in games of this type so are relatively easy to use and before you know it you will be commanding tanks, artillery and ground support units like a Colonel. [General takes a bit more time with the game]
If you do well on a mission you will get awarded with ‘prestige points’ that can be used to purchase additional units or, and this is a nice bit, improve the units you have. Like you can buy rubber boats to get across streams and rivers, magnetic mines to cause havoc with and binoculars to get a sighting distance increase. So your little force of tanks and their support will improve as you progress successfully through the missions.
Now even with a rocking game all is not peaches and cream. One drawback is not knowing what you will be going against in the next mission to be able to customize your force accordingly. But this is just drives you to be creating a well-rounded force of units that can take on most obstacles they face as you pick and enhance units.
Certain missions will also have other equipment available that are not purchased by you. Things such as off board artillery, dive bomber support, carpet bomber support and in some cases paratroop reinforcements, for when those fragile ground troops get too far ahead of your armor are very helpful. This also serves to mitigate the downside of picking a force structure before you get to know your enemy. And the final plan B (everyone has to have a plan B) is to fail the missions miserably after finding out you did a really bad job of picking forces and pick the right ones the second time through!
So this game is indeed one you want to look into if you like military simulations or even military based RTS titles. Had it been easier to get the game up and running for me the rating would have been higher than it is but even with the initial problems I feel Codename: Panzers has earned a full 4 GiN gems and would be a welcomed addition to many game computers!