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Soldiers: Heroes of World War II

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy


PC Preview - 'Soldiers: Heroes of World War II'

by Nathan Mourfield on April 9, 2004 @ 2:50 a.m. PDT

Genre: Action/Strategy
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Best Way
Release Date: June 01, 2004

Pre-order 'SOLDIERS: Heroes of World War II': PC

Soldiers: Heroes of World War II is one of those landmark games, it can change the landscape of gaming in ways we poor mortals could only dream. Best Way and Codemasters have a real gem on their hands if they can get past the development stage with a polished version of the Preview that is in my hot little hands now.

This title is based around the life and times of a group of misfits, a group of misfits with a Sherman tank. The premise of why these four guys seem to get the short end of the stick is not very clear yet in the title, but I am sure they made General Eisenhower very mad in some spectacular way. We are talking more than stealing the General’s car here. Maybe, stealing the General’s car to take out the General’s daughter and wife, and being caught in the back seat with both the General’s daughter and wife. It has to be that bad.

Whatever these poor sods did, they have to truck across Europe doing the most insane tasks. When I say insane, I mean that the Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Force Recon, and Air Force PJs would say something like, ‘Darn, I wouldn’t do that even on a bet.’ We are talking Rambo grade hard. Both Rainier and I played this game and we got our butts kicked, over and over again I hope that there will be some good tutorial missions and game balancing work done in the final product or there will be a lot of frustrated people out there.

The graphics of the game are certainly on par with any current 3D engine game, although nothing that you haven’t seen before. The graphics are good quality, and the look is appropriate for the time period. Most of the environments are destructible: buildings get blown to shreds, debris scattering around, terraforming occurs when bombs and/or shells hit, vehicles explode and fly apart in bits and pieces, nice particle effects, tracks on the ground, and plenty more eye candy that may not take your breath away, but make the game enjoyable and create the right atmosphere.

Sound is also appropriate for a game based in World War II. When a tank moves, it sounds like you would expect it to, machine gun fire and explosions have their appropriate kick to it, planes flying overhead, dropping their bombs, it makes the title to have that immersion effect. Your troops make constant remarks, and the voices are well done. Often Eastern European titles have shoddy voiceovers but here everything fits in perfectly with authentic accents.

In its current build, the controls of the game are a tad bit clumsy. There are two sets of controls for the game: the first is the standard point-and-click interface (Team Mode) that is expected for a 3rd person game, and the second is a keyboard- /mouse-based set (Direct Control) that is difficult to master. Once mastered, however, it makes combat with the tank significantly easier. The tank is driven by the keyboard while the turret is aimed and the gun fired by the mouse. There is a significant learning curve with these controls because they’re so different from most others and feel slightly clumsy in the beginning.

The game is not all about the tank, though. The four man crew can get out and walk (novel concept). The press build I played has no use of that feature, but the player can dismount any or all of the crew. Also, the crew will bail if the tank is critically hit and near-destroyed. The crew can get out and hide in the dark, causing a sort of stealth mode to be enabled. This game has everything, not in the very least the ability to take over enemy weaponry and use it to your own advantage. Other missions will have you show your stealth abilities, sneak up on guards, slit to the throat, while yet other missions will have you hold strongpoints and blast away incoming traffic in a manner of speaking.

The only issue that I have with the press build is that it is so darned difficult. Being the one good tank on the battlefield is not the most fun in the world, which is especially true because the player only has one available Sherman. The common strategy during World War II to take on German tanks was to have 5+ Shermans take on one German tank, and we were expected to lose at least one Sherman in the process. So you can see that being the only Sherman on the battlefield is not exactly the best scenario. The game does give the player a lot of infantry to run over, err … I mean to provide backup. You certainly want to keep these guys alive because they can help out immensely.

In total there will be 3 singleplayer campaigns with 10 missions each., and although not enabled in our press build, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II will also feature the traditional multiplayer types (Team Deathmatch, King Of The Hill), but more importantly, also a favorite of many people, cooperative play with 3 other players.

Soldiers: Heroes of World War II is a great period piece. The developers, Best Way, did amazing work on this title, and it has the look of the early 1940s down to a tee. The major issues with the game will hopefully be solved by the time that this game hits the shelves.

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