Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg

Play the lightning war!
Developer / Distributor: Nival Interactive / cdv Software
Release Date: 28 Mar 2003

Rating: ESRB – Teens

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Introduction
When you take the title of today’s game Blitzkrieg and break it down into its constituent parts – “Blitze” and “Krieg”, you will find that that these are German words that stand for Lightning and War respectively. And this is precisely the subject matter for today’s riveting real time strategy game from Nival Interactive and cdv Software.

It is arguable where the origins of Blitzkrieg came from, but we should thank military the theorists/strategists Carl von Clausewitz, Alfred von Schlieffen and Helmuth von Moltke the Elder. It is believed that the Germans took their teachings, modified it slightly to shift the emphasis to attacking with lightning speed, and then launched a blistering attack on the Western Front directed at Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France.

As the Collins English Dictionary puts it, the word Blitzkrieg is a swift intensive military attack, especially using tanks supported by aircraft, designed to defeat the opposition quickly. And you do get lots of military toys to play with in the game of Blitzkrieg.

Blitzkrieg – dies ist ein gutes Spiel

What you get

There’s a great barrel load of fun provided in Blitzkrieg. There’s single player mode where you can take a crash course through the tutorial, or dive into the campaign section, or perhaps fly around in the hotseat of a custom game.
The game comes supplied with 6 tutorial missions. In addition you also get three campaign choices – the Allied, the German, or the Soviet campaigns with each of these having 7 missions. The custom game only provides a paltry amount of 3 missions, however you can venture on the Internet to find even more. And if you are the creative sort, you may want to take some time out to edit your very own missions.
Multiplayer madness
You also have the added option to go multiplayer on a LAN, the Internet, or on Gamespy. It seems that the popularity of Blitzkrieg is still very strong as I saw many players anxious to play tonight. There are chat rooms implemented in the menu interface, so you can get to scope out your opponent (or just chat) before you start a battle.
Two modes of game play are available in multiplayer – assault and flagcontrol. The former involves an attacker and defender who must either capture or defend flags in the game, while the latter requires that you capture as many of the 150 point flags as possible before the game ends.
Time for some Flag Control fun
To complete the picture for Blitzkrieg, here are a couple more statistics taken from the official website:
  • More than 200 types of vehicles and machinery.
  • More than 40 kinds of infantry on every side.
  • More than 250 types of buildings and objects.

That in my opinion is a lot of military assets and civilian buildings that you will encounter in the game.

Win, lose, or draw – it’s all up to you
Gameplay
You only need play through the entire tutorial to fully understand the concepts involved in Blitzkrieg. The tutorial hand-holds you through the various actions required to manage your army. By the end of the sixth tutorial mission, you would have accomplished the following:
  • learn how to move a troop of tanks,
  • employ different tactics like enabling Aggressive mode, or selecting Ambush and Entrench options,
  • utilize your SPGs (self-propelled guns) and artillery,
  • move your infantry via troop transports, make them enter buildings, enable different movement modes, and even try your hand at sniping your enemies,
  • engage your AAA weapons and call for air support – reconnaissance, fighters, bombers, and paratroopers.
  • manage your logistics train and resupply your vehicles, call on your engineers to build bridges, de-mine or mine an area, and build tank obstacles plus more.
Better than fireworks!
As you step through the tutorial, you will immediately realize that Blitzkrieg does not require you to worry about base building, so don’t expect a traditional real time strategy game like Warcraft 3. This is a welcome respite for me, at least I won’t have to worry about opponents organizing a base rush at me.
In every mission, you are given an army with a fixed number of units. You must deploy your troops and vehicles and lead them to victory. If you make a strategic blunder, you may very well lose a substantial part of your army. If you are lucky, the mission allows you to call for ground reinforcements.
Air reinforcements are a welcome addition as they can allow you to win a battle that has gone horribly awry.
Bombs away
The three campaigns takes you through 21 eye opening missions. Campaigns are divided into manageable bite sized chapters so you can set convenient targets to take a break from the game. A mission starts off with reconnaissance information – this includes a map of the mission, the objectives that you must meet to win the mission, and a description of the mission (sometimes with tips to help you out).
Reenact the Invasion of Poland in 1939
The interface in Blitzkrieg is quite neat and straightforward. All the required buttons you need have been grouped nicely in the bottom left of the screen. Each unit that you select has four bars of information – hit points, primary and secondary ammunition, and unit’s experience. For tanks and artillery, you will find your ammunition getting depleted quite fast, especially if you happen to be trigger happy. Remember to get these vehicles resupplied, you sure won’t want to get caught high and dry without any means to defend yourself.
After successfully completing missions, you will be given a performance rating and most times will also be  awarded medals. From there, you are brought to the Depot Screen where you can upgrade your army’s tanks and artillery with the latest state of the art weapons. After which, you will move on to the next mission in the campaign.
At least I get impressive medals to adorn my uniform
Graphics
The terrain for every map is in 3D with life-like trees and beautifully rendered buildings dotting the landscape. There is not much animation on the map – with the most obvious being the animated rivers. You are unable to zoom in to eye level to see your troops unlike another real time strategy game I reviewed this week. Weather effects are present in the game but that’s about it.
The units however are lovely replicas of the real life tanks, artillery units, and infantry of the World War II era. I also admire how the developers have put in so much effort in animating these units.
Encyclopedia entries accessible only in between missions
Sound
The sound in Blitzkrieg is really nice. You get to hear the gunfire, tanks, and artillery all busily doing their job as they try to take out your enemies who scream and moan in pain when wounded. You will hear the odd ambient sound effects (for example, a lone bird calling) now and then. 

There is also the splendid voice work that feature English, German (Kein Problem), and Russian language speakers. Finally, the music has this militaristic feel to it and can be quite rousing.

Jingle bells anyone?
Analysis
Pros:
  • Perhaps the best news is that Blitzkrieg comes with its very own map and resource editors. By using these editing tools, you will be able to extend the life of your game for a long time to come. And if you are good enough, you could create a mod to impress the large Blitzkrieg community out there.
  • Multiplayer is great fun to play and the detailed and realistic graphics really helps the game a lot. I guess that’s why it’s still so popular after so many years.
  • The interface has hot keys assigned to them which makes things easier for you, that is if you can memorize what each key does.
  • There is a very simple help screen as well as tool tips for the interface.
Cons:
  • Some of the missions are ridiculously easy, while others are insurmountably difficult. This is one of those games where the disparity in mission difficulty is pretty glaring.
  • You don’t bear any feelings for your troops in the mission since there is no clear protagonist or heroic persona that you will nurture throughout the campaigns.
The editor is pretty intuitive
Conclusion
Blitzkrieg is a great World War II wargame that takes you through three exciting campaign missions through wild forests and freezing weather. The mission variety is good while the graphics really liven up the game with their detailed look and animations. I recommend this game for all who are fans of RTS or WWII military games, it is that good.

PS – You might also be interested in other games that use the Blitzkrieg engine. In particular, a game I reviewed back in January that focuses on World War I.


The Verdict

7Good

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