There seems to be more and more WWII RTS titles appearing every month, the historical setting seems to be at the height of fashion. The latest game to take you back in time comes from Nival and CDV, the aptly named Blitzkrieg, that means Lightning War to you and me, a phrase coined during the second WW meaning a quick and sudden strike.At first glance Blitzkrieg looks very similar to CDV’s other title Sudden Strike, but there’s more to this game than meets the eye. Sure the game follows similar control methods. interface and theme but Nival seem to have gone one step further. The game features three main factions from the WWII campaign, the Allies, Germans and Soviets so there’s a huge variety of unit types available to the player. Historical accuracy is what Nival have aimed for with units accurately modeled on the real vehicles of the era. If you’re like me and think a tank is just a tank then there’s the opportunity to unveil the finer points of each unit in the game via the game’s large encyclopedia of units, which although not essential to learn, does help the player understand the intricacies of WWII warfare and more specifically how they function in the game.Each campaign starts in different geographical locations and you’re eased into the gameplay by learning the basics of units control and interface. Along the bottom of the screen there’s the obligatory radar view and unit command functions, and the commands themselves are pretty extensive with certain units having their own abilities for the player to understand and master. In the first mission you’re taken through the hotkey commands which are essential to playing this game effectively. For example, your infantry can be placed into different formations and stances depending on the situation. They can dig in or be sent to a*ault an enemy position such as bunkers, with these different commands there’s a fine art to Blitzkrieg. Following the recent WWII RTS trend there’s also no resource collection, attention is solely focused on the combat and mission objectives.If you’re an impatient gamer and like to pile you’re troops in to take an enemy position then Blitzkrieg may not appeal, this is game that requires careful but quick thinking. Taking a bunch of tanks and a*aulting a position is not usually the best way to go, you need to position your units well, and most of all support each unit on the battlefield. Tanks can be outflanked and even immobilised by the enemy so keeping an eye on all your positions is vital. Units also play support roles so if a tank is immobilised you’ll need to send out your engineers to get the vehicle repaired and back in action, or why not dig a few trenches for extra cover or lay down some tank traps while you’re at it. It’s never that easy of course, coming under a heavy barrage of enemy artillery will usually see your engineers being picked off one by one and support vehicles being turned into smoking hunks of metal. Blitzkrieg is all about clever grouping and support.There are some nice touches such as being able to dig your tanks in to provide more cover and bolster their positions. Aircraft can also be called in to either scout, bomb or drop paratroopers and they’ll actually dogfight if there’s enemy aircraft in the area. The air support is on a time delay so you don’t get too much air power during a single mission, timing is of the essence. The aircraft are worked well and even though they are on a timer for every sortie, they will automatically stick with your troops as they move and attack any enemy forces. Trucks can also pick up and move artillery and anti-air guns into position on the battlefield both of which play a vital strategic role in the game which is great to see, artillery can make or break a mission. The supporting trucks can also ferry units around the map but they’re easy targets for enemy aircraft and tanks which makes troop movement tough going at times.One criticism of the game has to be the game’s interface, while easy to understand it’s rather small and squashed into a small area at the bottom of the screen. Fortunately there’s explanations of every icon if you hover the mouse over it, but to get the most from the game it’s best to try and learn the hotkeys, something Nival try to get you in the habit of right from the offset. Maybe they know the interface is a little small and it’s their way of telling you to get familiar with the commands quick or you could find the game rather fiddly.The AI in this game is actually pretty good. During a few missions I had a scout plane showing the enemy positions and I could see the enemy reinforcing positions and moving units into better defended areas to thwart my attack. The game is tough and the AI will give you a real challenge at times, and although the maps may seem small, missions do take some time to complete.Graphically Blitzkrieg is very similar to Sudden Strike in looks but personally I think this game is a lot more polished. The units and terrain are 3D and there’s some great visuals on explosions and weapons fire. The vehicles also move well which can make a difference in a game such as this, not to mention the aircraft are also scaled well. The main drawback is the rather small infantry units which are more often than not hard to see due to the nature of the terrain graphics. The infantry graphics in Blitzkrieg are larger than Sudden Strike’s but they are still hard to spot. Units can also be a little hard to see behind trees, even though the trees do become semi-transparent. when you place your pointer over them.The game’s sound is a mixed bag., while the weapon, unit and vehicle sounds are what you’d expect the game’s music can become a little grating. It’s standard WII style music but after you’ve had it pumping down your headphones for a couple of mission it can become and irritant. Unit responses are authentic depending in which side you play you’ll hear the commands in that particular language.No RTS would be complete without multiplayer and you can get online and play either direct connect over the Net, LAN or utlilse the in-game server browser. There seems to be a decent amount of games on the go at anyone time so you’ll have no problem testing your skills online.Blitzkrieg is everything I expected but nothing revolutionary. That doesn’t mean it’s not a solid game, the missions are fun and are a decent length thanks to the strategy involved to complete each mission. This might not appeal to every RTS gamer, it can be slow going at times, but Nival have achieved what they set out to do, relive some of the great battles of WWII with authentic units and intelligent gameplay. This is one RTS I would recommend you take a look at

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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