Nival, Paradox get tanked in Kursk

Development team behind Blitzkrieg rolls out new RTS focused on the largest tank battle in history; Paradox to publish the early-2007 PC release.


Paradox Interactive has signed a publishing deal with developer Nival Interactive, the result of which is an upcoming line of real-time strategy games based on World War II. The first game, Frontline: Kursk, is due out early next year and will focus on what remains to be the largest tank battle in history.

Nival, the developer of Heroes of Might and Magic V, will work with N-Game Studios, and the two companies will draw upon the experience of working on the Blitzkrieg series of World War II RTS games. However, for Frontline: Kursk, the company will introduce a new 3D graphics engine that will let you destroy everything in your path. The game will also feature a large number of historical military units that fought in the 1943 battle. It will also feature a single-player campaign with a strategic layer that lets you determine your missions, as well as multiplayer support for up to eight players. For more on Frontline: Kursk, we caught up with Nival producer Ilya Stremovsky.

GameSpot: While many people know of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, not as many are familiar with Kursk. Could you describe the significance of the battle and why you chose to build a game around it?

Ilya Stremovsky: The Kursk battle was one of the key battles on the Eastern Front. It's like the Battle of the Bulge of the Eastern Front. The German army tried to encircle the salient on the front line, where Soviet troops had advanced some 150 kilometers into German-controlled territory. Had they been successful, they would have trapped one-fifth of the Red Army troops and gained a great strategic position for future battles. The Soviet army took a defensive stance and aimed to bleed the attacking troops. This decision proved to be successful, and this battle of monumental proportions provided yet more proof that a German victory on the Eastern Front was unlikely. It is of significant importance, since the newest German tanks, such as the Panthers, were thrown into the battle and should have raised their odds. The culmination of the battle has become known as the "largest tank battle in history."

GS: Tell us a bit more about the gameplay. It sounds like there will be some kind of strategic layer where you will choose your missions and then there will be the real-time battles themselves. What will you do in the game as a player? Will you be able to play from the perspective of both sides in the campaign?

IS: In the strategic layer, the player will be able to see the situation on the front line and select the next mission. Once in a real-time battle, the player will command his or her troops in different episodes of the Kursk battle. The number of units under the player's command is proportionally scaled to the number of units that took part in the real battle. The objectives will mirror the real objectives of each episode and the progress of the battle. There are two campaigns in the game, and the player will be able to play for each side, with both of them having their successes and victories over the course of the larger battle.

GS: What's the scope of the game? Does it focus just around the Battle of Kursk, or will it cover larger periods of the war?

IS: Yes, the game focuses on the various episodes of the Kursk battle. This gives us a unique opportunity to depict the event on a very detailed level, the same level that an actual World War II commander would have been acting on.

GS: How realistic will the game be? Will you attempt to model an accurate simulation of combat, or will the gameplay lean more toward the traditional real-time strategy formula of rock-paper-scissors units, where every unit has a primary counter? How many units will be in the game--give us some examples?

IS: The tradition of the Blitzkrieg games is to be as authentic as possible. We use real-world technical parameters of the units--their strengths and weaknesses. The mix of the units at the player's disposal reflects the real composition of troops on the battlefield. The players will have to make their decisions based on the real starting conditions and making full use of the real-world advantages.

In total, there are about 120 units on both sides available to the player. The units that were actually taking part in the battle will be present. Among them, players will find obvious celebrities like Tiger and Panther tanks, Marder II mobile assault guns from the German side, as well as T-34 and Katyusha rockets from the Soviet side.

GS: Tell us more about the new Enigma engine that powers the game. Is this a vast improvement over your previous technology? What sort of features does it support?

IS: The original Enigma engine was developed for the Blitzkrieg II series, and this was an important technological step, as it allowed us to break through the 3D dimension. We've improved the original engine, adding visual effects like shaders and lightings. That helped us to make the game more realistic, and it creates new depths of battle atmosphere. The environments will certainly be destructible; almost all the objects can be destroyed, including buildings and trees. The improved engine makes the game even more interactive.

GS: Finally, there are a lot of World War II strategy games out there, so how do you think Frontline: Kursk will stand out from the competition? Will it be the battles, more integration of the strategic layer, or something else?

IS: The strongest points of Frontline: Kursk are the historical precision and attention to detail, combined with the full 3D graphics that present the player with a beautiful but also authentic view of the battlefield.

GS: Thank you.

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