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Rush for Berlin

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Stormregion

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PC Review - 'Rush for Berlin'

by Thomas Leaf on July 21, 2006 @ 2:43 a.m. PDT

Rush for Berlin is a tactical real time strategy game, set on the European battlefields of World War II, during 1944-45. The player's goal; to capture the German capital, as either the British/US/French alliance or the Red army of the Soviet Union.

Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Stormregion
Release Date: May 30, 2006

Who Wants to Fight World War Two…Again?

Rush for Berlin is a real-time strategy title that forgoes the base building and resource harvesting model for a straight tactical small-unit battle. The game takes place during the later stages of World War II, and you play through four campaigns beginning with the Russians, British, and French and German forces. Having the German forces as an option is nice, as many developers are afraid to touch the perennial bad guys when covering this era.

RFB approaches gameplay rather conventionally. You use the middle mouse button to zoom in and out and pan the camera, but this becomes a pain in the neck during gameplay because the camera is so sensitive. Lowering the camera sensitivity all the way fixed the problem, but sometimes, the sensitivity level would get reset between missions even though the setting was still at its lowest. Otherwise, the game plays much like other RTS titles in that you do a lot of shift-clicking to group up your boys and then right-clicking to attack.

RFB tries to enhance gameplay with units that gain experience and carry over from mission to mission. Most of these units are going to be your officers, which play a crucial role to your little army. These guys come with special abilities that are army-specific. Your Soviet commissars can double their troops' vodka rations to strengthen their morale, and the British SAS officer can enhance all of your paratroopers.

Your regular units can also level up and become deadlier and tougher. This alone makes keeping your troops alive worthwhile, since you're not always guaranteed to be able to replace them. Some units are absolutely crucial, such as recon vehicles which allow you to call in strategic bombing strikes, tactical air support and aerial recon. RFB makes use of a very effective and realistic "fog of war" device that clouds the map unless you have direct line of sight, but if an enemy unit is on foot or an enemy vehicle is just outside your visual range, you can "hear" them, and a small icon will warn you that something is out there.

RFB also makes use of an interesting concept involving time. You can use the space bar to pause the action, and each operation has an abstract time limit. The time limit is measured as a bar up top, and if you're ahead of schedule, the bar slides to the left, and if you're behind, the bar slides right. This prevents you from sitting back and trying to build up a massive force to steamroll the enemy, and the added pressure can cause you to rush into things prematurely. This concept would have been better implemented if it had far-reaching consequences on a strategic level. If you finish ahead of schedule, rather than just getting a better score, the next battle might be easier, or you might get some sort of advantage; likewise, falling behind would result in a strategic disadvantage for the next round.

RFB's engine is serviceable. There is not much in terms of terrain variety, but the maps are 3D, and several maps are populated with some urban landscapes that are useful for occupying. Ice-covered rivers or lakes will crack underneath tanks, and trees fall over when armor rolls through the forests. The soldiers are small, but thankfully, they are easy to locate and click because they're units of four instead of singular troops. Finding medics can be a chore, and it is crucial to have your troops organized into groups before going into battle, or else you'll be at a significant disadvantage. The maps are nicely lit, textured and detailed. The units and terrain look good zoomed in and zoomed out, but you'll spend most of the battle zoomed out so you can see more of the field. Nothing jumps out or impresses the eye, and the game doesn't require a hefty system to run, but at the same time, it doesn't look dated or simplistic either.

RFB scores points for atmosphere. Every faction has specific special units that offer unique advantages and responds in the right language. The campaigns are varied and take place in new spots. The Russians begin their counterattack at Leningrad, and you even fight at Sevastopol. Unlike any other WWII RTS title, you get to play through a nasty little campaign as the French Resistance, which oftentimes pits little guerilla fighters against German armor and where the game's "fog of war" device serves as both a blessing and a curse. While RFB doesn't necessarily follow historical paths very precisely and there aren't any battles that truly match historical records, it is still fun to play. During the German campaign you'll have access to Me-262s for tactical air support, and King Tigers will be available in times and places that these vehicles never fought.

All in all, Rush for Berlin is a strong title. Minor camera issues aside, it looks good, plays well, and sports some good atmospheric details. My only true criticism is that we've been here and done this before. An interesting game engine with these mechanics would have made for a compelling platform for modern battlefields or even a science fiction setting. The entire time I played through RFB, I felt oddly disengaged because it seemed like I've played this game before.

This would be a good choice for a new gamer looking for a good RTS WWII title, but the veteran gamer might feel a case of déjà vu because nothing truly sets RFB apart from anything else. I would have liked to see a more strategic element incorporated through its use of time, especially since units do carry over from battle to battle. At the end of the day, RFB is a complete game with a robust feature set and an ability to play other gamers over the net, but it also doesn't dare too much to break any molds or paradigms.

Score: 8.0/10


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