A real-time strategy game created by Nival Interactive
was a 2½D
game with sprite-based graphics that aimed to depict a more realistic real-time strategy game based on World War II
. In a typical campaign, the player could play as the Germans, the Soviets, or the Western Allies (British, and eventually American troops, with some French equipment thrown in).
It had many stark differences from a typical Real-Time Strategy
- No base-building or unit-building, at all. You start with a certain amount of units on the screen, and what you have is simply what you have. Some missions would have scripted additional units appear as "reinforcements," but these were strictly scripted events. The player had no control over it happening.
- Every unit, from the infantryman to the artillery to the tank had a set amount of ammunition. When the unit ran out of ammunition, it would not be able to fire anymore unless supply trucks brought it new supplies. The player would order the trucks to "resupply," then watch as individual engineers jumped out of the truck, walked to the tank/artillery/infantryman, and only then would the unit get new ammunition.
- Supply trucks would run out of supplies too and need to be refilled at a depot. It is therefore fully possible to win against an enemy with superior weapons by attacking their supply lines: destroy the supply trucks and they would eventually run out of ammunition.
- Every unit had hit-points, but tanks could have their tracks knocked out by grenades. A tank attacked by infantrymen with grenades sits immobile until an engineering truck is brought up to fix it.
- There was extensive research in the unit specifications. Every tank and vehicle has a historical description, statistics for ammunition, armor thickness, top speed, etc. This is reflected in gameplay as well: if a tank had a gun that was too weak to penetrate an enemy tank's armor, the shells will simply bounce off the tank. These thicknesses were recorded for the front, back, and sides. This provoked historically realistic situations such as an American Sherman tank only being able to penetrate a German Tiger tank's armor if it maneuvered behind it.
It was released in German, Russian, and English languages and found a small but dedicated audience internationally. Two official spin-offs were created, as well as many fan-made mods and other spin-offs.
That's not to say it didn't have some issues.
- The pathfinding AI was atrocious. Vehicles could not easily find their way around obstacles, and you would get situations where a tank or truck would turn in place to move one pixel, then stop and turn in place again to move back. The only solution is you must be very mindful of your units so they do not get stuck in a "traffic jam" and become a sitting duck for the enemy.
- Many missions in the original game were random maps. These would vary in difficulty from ridiculously easy to ludicrously difficult, depending on what equipment you had and pure random luck. At the very least, a player would be completely accustomed to all of them by the end of the game and the difficulty would drop. Expansions eliminated random maps entirely and every mission used a set scripted map.
- The campaigns were inconsistent. The German campaign especially began with Poland, then France, then North Africa, then the rest of the maps were against the Soviet Union until finally facing the Western Allies in 1945. This means for the majority of the game, your equipment is pre-1942, and the equipment makes an extreme jump in type. The German tanks pre-1942 are small, relatively thin-armored, and have a weak-gun, but fast. Post 1942, they are the exact opposite: huge slow behemoths with massive guns. The jump happens so quick, you don't really feel the German side 'evolve'. The Western Allies are a little better, but their weapons don't evolve too much until the Americans appear. The Soviet campaign, however, feels very focused and the equipment evolves very naturally. This isn't too surprising though considering it's a Russian developer.
- The map cannot be magnified in any way, nor can it be rotated. This isn't too much of an issue, but it definitely shows the game's age.
- The game contained a super-unit: the sniper. Snipers could not be seen by the AI unless they got a unit very close to it. It is very easy to complete a mission by sending a sniper to find the enemy through the Fog of War, then using your long-range artillery to destroy everything. The enemy AI will almost always sit and let this happen.
The game provided a good base for modding and can still be enjoyed, even if it was originally released in 2003.
It received one sequel, Blitzkrieg 2
, which is generally regarded as inferior. It was full 3D, but didn't quite follow the original's dedication to realism and came off as much more 'arcade-like'.
The series in general give examples of: