Panzer Corps (PC) Review

By Robert Blowes 21.10.2014

Review for Panzer Corps on PC

Panzer General was a critically acclaimed World War II turn-based tactical game developed by Strategic Simulations all the way back in 1994. Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht is a faithful recreation and update of that difficult and near-enough 'perfect' game, remade for the 21st century by Flashback Games and The Lordz Games Studio. The death of turn-based tactical games on the PC has resulted in this type of game flying under the radar. Indeed, it has been out for quite a long time now and has been restricted to digital download offerings on places such as the publisher Slitherine's website, but luckily has been released on Steam. Though still a touch pricey given the specialisation of the genre now, it is a base template type of game that deserves some attention.

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht is a classic style tactical turn-based war game. It takes place during the years of 1939-1945 and focuses on World War II and the German military during its war campaign throughout Europe. Taking place on a hex-grid of battlefield maps, Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht allows the aspiring armchair general to take command of infantry, tanks, anti-tanks, artillery, reconnaissance and mountain corps. It also includes a sizeable air-force, permitting the recruitment of fighter planes, and tactical and strategic bomber units.

Recruitment of units is done by purchasing them with 'prestige,' which is a currency rewarded to the player for completing their objectives in a timely manner, conquering tactical points on the map (conveniently presented with a gold border along the flag hex), as well as taking secondary or additional objectives such as out of the way cities, bridges or other locations.

The core values of the old Panzer General series remains. Objectives presented must be conquered within a very strict time limit. This limit can be painfully tight on some stages, yet plentiful on others. Winning all the objectives within half of the time limit will often reward a decisive victory, allowing progress on to different stages than might be offered for a minor victory. Defeat, too, opens up other routes through the war, but enough defeats will end the game with the player's "dismissal" from service for incompetence.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps on PC

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht starts with the Polish invasion, or the 'September Campaign,' and depending on the player's ability and skill, offers the chance to move rapidly north through Norway and Denmark; west, through the low countries and France; south, through the Balkans conflict; and finally east, against Mother Russia.

The method of 'winning' requires numerous decisive victories against a horde of tough opposition. Indeed, one of the main ways of beating the game is to defy history itself and completely defeat the Soviet War machine Russia, allowing the German military and the player to experience a 'what if?' campaign of striking over the Atlantic into Great Britain and finally the United States of America.

Let it be made abundantly clear, however, that this requires the pinnacle of skill and a hatful of luck to pull off. Most games will follow the historical scenarios; the German military will usually suffer defeat at Russia, the planned Sealion invasion campaign against Britain will usually be called off and the second part of the game will usually focus on a fighting retreat back to Berlin where the Germans will be comprehensively destroyed - let it not be said there's no realism here.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps on PC

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht's tactical elements are well defined. Terrain is of vital importance to the battles being played out. Infantry will be destroyed by tanks in the wide open plains, for example, and Artillery does not stand up very well in a straight up fight, but is invaluable for providing defensive covering fire and for softening up entrenched units. Infantry itself shines when it comes to fighting in 'closed terrain' - that is terrain where the soldiers need to get up close and dirty. Fighting in forests, mountains and cities themselves, these are the jobs for the boots on the ground. Send a tank into these areas and they will be shredded by a perceived 'weaker' infantry unit because of the lack of mobility afforded to the armoured behemoths.

Units themselves have their own attack and defensive stats, including a separate defensive stat for that close terrain. Hence a tank might have 20 defence and the only direct counter will be static immobile anti-tank units or other tanks, but they'll have a close defence rating of a mere 2, allowing for the weaker infantry corps to demolish them if they so much as position themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Few games ably implement terrain as a factor toward unit strengths and weaknesses, but Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht does so and also includes the weather elements. During times of fog and rain, the air corps is practically useless, unable to fight at all. During cloudy weather they fight at half strength. In the clear, they are brutally effective; a good Tactical Bomber (see Stukas) will handily wipe out enemy armoured divisions with consummate ease. The weather affects the ground forces as well; rain turns to the plains in muddy ground, severely limiting movement off-road. It also has a considerable effect on the combat; artillery is nullified by quite a bit in muddy ground as their shells sink into the mud and the blast is half absorbed by the conditions. There is also snow and ice, allowing units to move over rivers and lakes when they are frozen over, but also limited movement off-road.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps on PC

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht is essentially a love letter to tactical turn-based fans and to the old Panzer General series itself. It does everything right, the units are created to be as historically accurate as possible, and the emphasis is on tactical thinking and ultimately speed.

This is where Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht falls apart, though, because Panzer General was a fantastic game in its own right, but a game from 1994 was always going to have some dated elements and flaws - notably, the strict time limit and somewhat steepish learning curve for non-tactical experts.

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht thus has all the positives of the notorious Panzer General series, but also the flaws inherent within. The difficulty spikes quite quickly at times and succeeding is rewarded via punishment; there is more prestige awarded for winning minor victories than for winning decisive victories, which does add to the challenge, but is also a contributor to the difficulty spike. Additionally, the strict time limits often force the player to rush and take the maxim of Sun Tzu's "No state has ever benefited from a protracted war," to an extreme.

Furthermore, Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht breathes life into the relic of the Panzer General series, but it doesn't quite claim it as its own. Thus, this is a good game, a swan-song return for the genre and for its fans, but it needs that little extra spark to drive the game forward, to claim it as their own.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht is a fantastic game in its own right. It breathes fresh life into the long forgotten tactical turn-based war game genre and it does it with talent and skill. The imitation and homage to the older Panzer General series, however, means that it doesn't just take all the advantages of that series, but also its inherent flaws. For fans of the old series, this should be an instant purchase and a confident addition to the collection. For newer players, particularly the newer generation, this is a fantastic entry into what is one of the oldest and greatest war series ever made, only remade for the 21st century!

Also known as

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht

Developer

The Lordz Games Studio

Publisher

Slitherine

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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