Codename: Panzers Phase 2


posted 9/8/2005 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
Phase 2 introduces some interesting fog of war conventions. While the fog of war is a bit cramped for my liking, noisy units can be detected just outside a unit’s line of sight, demarcated by either a footsteps or vehicle icon. While units cannot target the enemy directly using these icons, it does allow players to get the jump on unsuspecting targets. Phase 2 also incorporates a day/night cycle, with darkness reducing the line of vision. Vehicles can cancel this reduction by using headlights, but this will cause them to stand out in the fog of war, marked by a headlights icon.

In addition to the units doled out at the mission briefing, players are also given a limited amount of air and heavy artillery support. This support includes scout planes, aircraft bombing runs, and artillery bombardments, each of which can only be called in a handful of times. Used correctly, this support can be devastating, as a few well-placed bombardments can severely and quickly punish an unsuspecting enemy. Often, completing secondary or secret mission objectives will result in additional air and artillery support, making these objectives all that much more important.

Phase 2 looks good, with the tank and vehicle units getting the most attention. Each is quite detailed and very well done. The infantry get shorted in the graphics department, as individual unit types are quite difficult to pick out of a crowd. The terrain is deformable and very well done, from the deserts of Africa to the towns and fields of Italy. The audio holds its own, with pleasing explosions and gunfire. My only gripe was with the voice work, in particular the overdone Italian dialogue. The, “Momma Mia! They-a hit us hard!” quickly became tiresome.

The controls were smooth and intuitive, as expected in a modern RTS. The AI was actually decent, although pathfinding bogged down when fielding too many tanks in a single grouping. I was also disappointed when I failed to find any way of maintaining formations, either with tanks or infantry. Given the limited number of units on the field, a formations option isn’t necessary, but it would have been a nice addition.

The missions themselves were very well crafted, with a pleasant mix of objectives. All of the missions were much more than “get ‘em!” style, and most required some careful planning and scouting. Since units are limited, I spent a great deal more time in preparation for each and every enemy encounter than in actual fighting, which is how I envision wartime command.

Codename: Panzers Phase 2 is a solid, enjoyable WWII RTS. With well-designed missions, strong graphics and a good balance of “realistic” and “fun”, Phase 2 is a decent way to spend some gaming hours. It’s not as standout as it needs to be to drag itself from the pile of “me too!” WWII titles, but Phase 2 is certainly near the top of a very long list.

A good WWII RTS. There’s nothing spectacular here, but there is quite a fun game. The Codename: Panzers series delivers another quality title.

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