Codename: Panzers – Phase Two

Codename: Panzers – Phase Two
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Platforms: PC
Publisher: CDV Software
Developer: Stormregion
Genres: Strategy / Real-Time Strategy
Release Date: 2005
Game Modes: Singleplayer / Multiplayer

2_1Phasing out the old. Sort of.

Codename Panzers was a well-executed, content-rich strategy title that got somewhat overrun in the tank-rush of major releases at the time. Its successor, Phase Two, presents different Anglo-American/German fronts in WWII as experienced by a cast of new characters, and promises to round out the package with even more story, a more gamer-friendly approach, an increased focus on tactics, and even some polished-up voice-acting to improve the game’s dramatic presentation.

By its very nature, Phase Two attempts to sidestep some of the traditional “issues” with RTS games; namely, the tendency to devolve into episodes of tedious rounds of laborious, uneventful base-building followed by mass-production rushes that have little to do with strategy. The game equips desktop commanders with a finite, pre-defined force whose units are carried over from mission to mission (or not, depending on how well you do). No abstracted resource-gathering. No silly insta-bases. No comforting, portable military/industrial complex to encourage the bad strategy of thoughtless rushes. Just the reinforcements and/or replacement units that only a careful, shrewd commander should expect to support a hard-fought campaign between battles.

Phase Two takes a game like Command and Conquer and adds tons of little features. Gameplay wise, it feels more like a squad game than an RTS sometimes. Your units come in small groups, like in Battle for Middle Earth. Rather than just having soldiers which have a single weapon, one cool feature of Panzers is the fact that if you have a group of machine-gunners, you can equip grenades to them to allow them to attack artillery.

Phase Two recognizes that armored units are not a mere collection of straightforward hit-points, but rough war machines. With better armor in some places than in others, each potential target’s position/facing is an important concern. Also, the attacker’s hardware must be appropriate for his target; a bunch of riflemen chipping away at a thick-hide tank aren’t going to accomplish much of anything, regardless of how long they concentrate their ineffectual small-arms fire. Amen to that.

18_1Another nice detail is the addition of vehicle headlights, a sort of double-edged saber; units with their headlights on can obviously see better in low-light conditions… at the obvious cost of broadcasting their approach in the visible spectrum to their enemies. Visually, it’s a box of welcome eye-candy; fully 3D tanks, trucks, transports and troops prowl the desert wastes, while aircraft dramatically circle, attack and occasionally spiral in for a crash landing. Take out a tank, and the crew will bail; they’ll be less than ideal as sudden by-proxy “infantry,” of course… but if they can locate and man a currently-abandoned armor unit somewhere on the map, they’re back in business.

Italian and Yugoslavian campaigns will be included, in addition to the ones for the Brits and Americans, and you can expect to encounter a few familiar faces from the first game. Panzers: Phase Two not only looks promising but more polished all around, with appeal for an even broader audience.


System Requirements: Pentium IV 2.5 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 3.5 GB HDD, 128 MB Video, WinXP

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