"The latest addition to the Blitzkrieg series of no-nonsense WWII RTSs is aimed at hardcore fans. The rest of us? We kinda have to step aside and watch."
There are very few games out there with a narrower audience than this one. Blitzkrieg II: Liberation is directed at one tiny little sector of the demographic, that of hardcore World War II history
nerds buffs who are also hardcore RTS fans, and it doesnít give a damn about anybody else. So itís not really a matter of how much I liked the game, but of how little it liked me.
Although the interface and controls of this version are for the most part exactly those of past Blitzkrieg II games, as they didnít need to fix what wasnít broken, it is evident that some work and a whole lot of research have been put into it. This is not just a game in which battles happen in a historical background. Itís not a simple matter of reenacting battles that really happened in sceneries with real names: this game is prepared to give you a detailed map of the battlefield, a full briefing of minor missions youíve never heard of (and never will again) and the name and story of every single squadron present in any of its missions. Itís a little scary to play a game so focused on its own history, but itís even scarier that its target players probably already know all itís telling.
Liberation lets you play for the Americans or for the Germans towards the end of the war; each side has its own set of missions, all of them reenactments of battles. As the seriesí titles implies, these battles are fast: you enter a map with an army of variable size, and you start firing away. Thatís it, really Ėthere is no resource gathering, no building beyond the digging of trenches, no unit creation, nothing. Just the soldiers youíve been given and the enemyís. To compensate for this, all the planning that would go towards urbanism here needs to be redirected to fighting. Soldiers can board vehicles or go on foot, storm buildings or trenches, advance in many different formations; tanks can be protected if they stop moving; snipers can use camouflage; planes can be called in at certain pointsÖ
Despite this painstaking strategy, battles are often won very quickly. In my case, mostly by the computer. Since for the most part both sides have a very limited set of units, the long and tiring stalemates typical of RTS games never happen here: you may get control of that tobacco factory, or you may get blown to bits before ever reaching the gates, but it wonít take long either way. When a unit dies, it stays dead, so if that was your last tank and you need at least one, you can either hope you can call for reinforcements or start over.
The only real problem with the gameplay is its unforgiving difficulty; this is what I meant when I said that there is a very narrow demographic for this. The gameís manual itself more or less explicitly recommends people who have never played a Blitzkrieg game to stay the hell away from this one. Apart from a WWII aficionado, the target player here is someone who knows how RTSs work. The learning curve here is a veritable learning Himalaya: after a few tutorials, the missions start right away with implacable harshness.
Thus, although itís definitely not working for me on any levels, I canít say Blitzkrieg II: Liberation is bad. If youíre on its guest list, youíll enjoy the flawless presentation (pay especial attention to the sound effects, which lend realism to the missions even when nothing is really happening) and the exhilarating dynamics of battle, and youíll learn stuff, too. If youíre wondering whether this sounds too difficult for you, though, then it very probably is.
Freelance review by Martin G (October 22, 2007)
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