Blitzkrieg II E3 2005 Impressions

We take a look at Blitzkrieg II, the newest World War II RTS from CDV, at E3 2005.

CDV showed off a number of World War II real-time strategy games for us at E3 2005, with the most hardcore of the lot being Blitzkrieg II. In Blitzkrieg II, CDV hopes to appeal to the wargamers and hardcore simulation fans that are looking for a challenge and a realistic representation of the combat balance of World War II. Reps stated explicitly that the company's aiming to make the most realistic WWII RTS ever, and from what we've seen, CDV's on the right track.

For instance, CDV is reporting that the shipping game should have around 250 different units spread out among the three primary factions: the US, the USSR, and Germany. This number includes around 60 infantry units alone, so it would appear there are going to be a lot of different options for players to choose from to get their war on. Combat tactics are intended to both portray this sense of realism and give the game more strategic depth than you see in other RTS games. For instance, one of the missions that we saw involved a number of tanks attempting to assault a line of infantrymen. The infantrymen, however, had dug themselves a trench and were barely visible to the tanks, meaning that neither side could do much damage to the other, since the riflemen weren't able to hurt the tanks. As the tanks approached the trench, though, the infantrymen periodically started chucking out grenades, which dealt at least some damage to the tanks, while a hidden antitank gun behind the trench opened fire and started pelting the tanks. Since the tanks couldn't pass over the trench, they suffered heavy damage to a technically inferior force, even if they did eventually manage to flank the trenches and encircle the troops.

Graphically, the RTS portion of the game looks pretty sharp. Almost everything is destructible here, including walls, houses, fences, and trees, the last of which will convincingly crunch over and lay on their sides when you hit them with a tank. It's not going to make people drop their jaws in wonder, but the look of the game is acceptable for an RTS.

One of the neat new additions to the game is the way in which you can select the order of the missions in a campaign. There are usually going to be three or four missions in a campaign, leading up to a single centerpiece mission that's based on a historical scenario. The lead-up missions can be selected in any order, though, or even occasionally skipped altogether. The key here is that certain missions will let you unlock more units for the subsequent missions. So you'll have to examine the rewards on offer and then choose your path through a campaign accordingly. If you skip a mission, then the reward for that mission may be locked off from you, so it's worth going through the lot of them if you want the extra units. There are reportedly going to be around 68 missions in the game, though, so you should have plenty of opportunity to mix and match your forces to your liking.

Another metagame addition is the inclusion of commanders that you can assign to certain types of troops. We saw a screen that let you draft commanders for infantry, light tanks, medium tanks, and bombers. Apparently, the more you use a certain type of unit, the more experienced your commander will be. And this will be reflected by that kind of unit obtaining new abilities. For instance, if you have an infantry commander and you use your infantry a lot over the space of a few missions, your commander will level up, which will enable your infantry to do things like entrench themselves without having to use engineers or bundle grenades together to destroy tanks more easily. Tank upgrades will reportedly include the ability to fortify positions with sandbags.

Blitzkrieg II is looking like it'll be an appealing game, if you're into hardcore realism and strategic maneuvering. We should have more information on the game in the future, so stay tuned to GameSpot.

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