The good folks at Stormregion sent us a preview beta copy of their latest WWII RTS, Rush for Berlin, and so far I’m liking what I see. Borrowing many of the better gameplay concepts from their Codename: Panzers line, Rush for Berlin brings a much more theatrical feel to the European fronts. Playing the few early scenarios felt a lot like watching a good old Saturday afternoon war-hero movie. Some of the more “realistic” elements of WWII combat take a back seat to make room for faster, more cinematic, and more entertaining gameplay.
Rush for Berlin is set in the European theatre near the end of WWII. The Third Reich is crumbling fast, and the rest of Europe and the world are pressing their victory. Players will be able to command American, French, Russian, German, and British forces as WWII is winding down. In addition to the historical scenarios, Rush for Berlin is also adding a few alternate-history scenarios in which the Germans mount a final counter-attack.
Rush for Berlin offers a nice array of units, many of which have a few special abilities. In keeping with the cinematic feel, control of the units and their abilities is quite simple, making play quick and painless. As with many WWII RTS games, I had a difficult time distinguishing unit types just by glancing at the screen. The infantry units in particular were all-too-similar in appearance, and I spent too much time sorting them out in the heat of battle. Units can be ordered around during a game pause, so it’s not as annoying as it could be in the single-player arena. Building units in Rush for Berlin is a bit unique. Barracks and factories allow players to create new units for deployment, so the player is not limited to a starting army as in Codename: Panzers. There are also no resources, other than the time it takes to actually produce a unit. So, theoretically, players can crank out units the entire duration of the scenario, provided the enemy doesn’t capture the production facility. All buildings are pre-set on the map, so players don’t construct an infrastructure, they simply have to use those buildings they start with, in addition to those they can steal from the enemy.
The game looks great, although it does go a little overboard in greens and tans. Buildings and terrain are fully desctructable, and players will soon see the countryside crumbling under the assault of artillery and tank fire. Many of the Codename: Panzers conventions are in place, such as the “noise” icons that pop up when loud units are just outside the fog of war. The interface manages to capture that matinee-war-movie motif quite well, and the cutscenes that I saw were very well done. Sound is decent, although I did grow tired of some of the units’ chatter after a while.
All in all, Rush for Berlin looks to be a fun, two-fisted WWII title. Stormregion is really hitting their RTS stride, and they look like they’re well on track to deliver another solid and entertaining game.
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