Panzer General 3d Assault
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
A couple of years back Panzer General II appeared, an excellent follow up to a very successful war/strategy game by SSI. Now Panzer General is brought into the 3d world, but with a signficant shift in gameplay style.
The original PG series echoed the early board games, using flat maps and two dimensional units moving on a hex map grid. But in the new version, terain has become three dimensional, and objects (towns, tanks, aircraft) are similarly 3d.
Now the battleground has a realistic feel to it, mingling the action game sensation, and you can spin the map or zoom in and out, and the enemy no longer simply appears on hexes, but drives or flies to engage you, complete with sound effects and dust rising from the tracks or flames issuing from guns.
The game is not real time, so you make your moves (issue orders) with your set pieces, and then click the button to take your turn and watch the battle unfold. Animations, as above, give that real time action game feeling, but you have the option of turning them off in the preferences, or bypassing individual ones with a mouse click.
Panzer General Assault portrays World War II in Western Europe and Africa, offering both individual battle scenarios and campaigns. If you've always wanted to take a crack at Operation Market Garden (made famous by the movie, "A Bridge Too Far"), here is your chance. At least in the historical scenarios you know what you're up against!
The change over the earlier PG series is singificant, and is in the way the armies are portrayed. The earlier series was unit focused; Panzer General Assault is leader focused. When you enter a scenario or campaign, you select leaders to command and then give each one oversight of a particular unit (and thus a certain kind of equipment.) You may choose to assign a leader from one branch a unit from a different branch, but their performance suffers.
Furthermore, the more experience a leader has, the greater the number of commands he can issue to a unit in a turn. In other words, strategy now comes into play even before the fighting begins. You may choose a highly experienced leader, but he will then occupy more "slots" in your roster. Will you choose more green leaders, or fewer experienced? Similarly, the units they command vary in quality and ability, and better units can do more in a turn.
A New Battle System
The battle and command system has also changed and expanded, granting new tactical depth and also increasing the learning curve. The basic commands remain (move, shoot, rally, resupply, etc.), but as leaders gain promotions and increase in rank they can issue a range of "veteran," commands. These commands in turn vary with each unit.
For example, you can order a mechanized unit to patrol, or tell your fighter-bombers to seek cloud cover. You can even use your fighters as "eagle-eye" recon units, and command your fighter-bombers to use their special tank busting abilities. Veteran Recon orders include the ability to act as Forward Observer for your artillery, and Veteran Artillery orders include the ability to Plot and Saturation Plotting, increasing firepower and effectiveness. The complexity and flexibility of engagements has increased dramatically in PG Assault.
With the focus shifting to leadership, the campaigns themselves now follow the careers of the most famous generals. You'll find Patton, Rommel, Kesselring and Montgomery here, as well as a bunch of others.
Go to Part II
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Last Updated September 27th, 1999