Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 (PC) Review

By Robert Blowes 26.10.2014

Review for Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 on PC

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht, a spiritual remake and successor for the Panzer General series, offers a huge DLC bundle so named Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945. Take the driving seat as the general who must lead his combined armed corps across the whole of Europe as a small cog in the advancing behemoth of the Germany Military War Machine of 1939.

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht was a good game. The base game itself does have its flaws as a tactical turn-based war title - most notably the strict turn limits, the somewhat limited scope and the feeling that it was never really its 'own' game - but it stood firmly in the shadow of the game it was paying homage to: Panzer General.

The Complete Grand Campaign bundle at first looks to be a pure cash-in - fork over some more money for a few more maps and bit more fighting. The price point is an impressive £29.99 and, combined with the base game, prospective buyers are looking at pushing some £40 just to play through additional maps.

Let's get one thing clear straight away. The Grand Campaign is the game that Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht should have been. It is amazing, fantastic, brilliant - there cannot be enough praise heaped towards this DLC bundle. Even the most die-hard anti-DLC gamer needs to drop everything and have a look at this game immediately.

Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht is the tentative opening product - solid if unspectacular. The Grand Campaign, on the other hand, blows the original and any competitor completely out of the water. Recognising the limitations of the Panzer General-styled base game, Grand Campaign decides to do things its own way.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 on PC

Like in the base game, the player is given the position of a general in the German Wehrmacht in 1939 as the dark skies of World War II begins. Unlike Panzer Corps, however, the Grand Campaign lives up to its billing by expanding on the game by making it almost fifty times the size. This isn't an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination.

Grand Campaign keeps the core mechanics of Panzer Corps intact. Prestige is still required to buy units, units are still required to create an army, and that army - under the player's leadership - must still zoom around the hex-pattern maps taking out the opposition forces and conquering victory points, as is standard.

Where Grand Campaign differs, though, is that each year is an actual full campaign within its own right. The game starts with 1939 - the invasion of Poland, or the "September Campaign." Where the original game offers two or three battles in Poland before switching over to the next target in the war, here, the game forces one to remain in Poland, advancing by days, weeks and months.

The larger scope in terms of time means that additional historical battles can be introduced and implemented. Where before, the army smashed through to Warsaw by the second battle, this time, the initial Polish lines must be broken, the air forces destroyed, and airfields captured to maintain air supremacy. Only then can the German military might progress through to the Danzig Corridor and Lodz.

Then, without warning, the first defensive battle of the game is thrown into the mix. In the standard title, the only defensive battles actually come near the end when the German army is facing the might of the Soviets. In Grand Campaign, it is recognised that the war wasn't just the German army steam-rolling over everything and lighting a cigar at the end of the objective, but that counter-offensives pulled off by the minor and major nations throughout the war in Europe did occur. Therefore, not only does one get to absolutely annihilate the Polish forces at first, but also deal with the counter-offensive that was pulled off with the scenario in the Battle of Piatek.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 on PC

By focusing on each individual war year, Grand Campaign frees itself from the shackles of the limited AI and scenarios presented in initial instalment. Now, there is more focus on individual objectives, individual maps and individual campaigns. The narrower focus allows for more creativity in terms of unit composition and army building. For example, the Polish and Norwegian campaigns in 1939 don't require much in the way of anti-tank units because both armies were mostly infantry units. Switch to 1943, however, and the increased prevalence of armoured units suddenly forces a rapid rebuilding and retraining of the army.

This focus also allows the game to finally utilise its technology tree to full effect. In 1939 units are basic, the tank models are all historical and yes, historically the German tank units were that rubbish - they went to war using Czechoslovakian models. As the months and years pass by, more modern technology becomes available to upgrade to, or outright replace. This forces one to think very carefully about their army composition and how to utilise their forces.

An experience cap and a unit limit have been put in place, as well. Units can be purchased over the unit limit and held on 'reserve,' so it is possible to have a huge army that can be rotated in and out of fights as need be, which is vital, because as the game progresses through the years, it becomes increasingly harder to train fresh recruits, especially if they're going up against crack troops from the Soviet Russians.

Additionally, because of the nature of the army building there is more scope for 'heroes' to feature. These are real life genuine war heroes who fought during World War II, and among them are the well-known Hans-Ulrich Rudel - a notorious stuka dive bomber with the most number of tank kills recorded in the war - as well as the lesser known, such as Sniper Oleg Dir. These heroes offer stat bonuses and penalties to the units they join, and each unit can have up to three heroes assigned to them. Sadly, there is no real control over this element, but it's worth noting.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 on PC

Another fantastic addition to the game is the ability to invest in the army on an emotional level. As the commander, users have to build the forces, recruit, reinforce and generally babysit the units. At the end of each campaign year, the entire army, experience, size and composition is all saved into a new save file. Players are 'congratulated' and told to go enjoy the spoils of victory. Then, on loading the next year in the instalment (1940, for example,) the game prompts to load the saved army and continue the offensive.

This is all very smartly justified - the controlled forces are 'rotated' in and out of the front lines, though towards the later years this rotation becomes a lot more limited. Each year presents an accurate presentation of the battles of World War II; 1939 deals with the fall of Poland, the 1940s deals with the swift defeat in France, and the later 1940s focuses on the Balkans and the eventual invasion of Russia.

Grand Campaign is one of the first ever war games to most accurately show the ridiculous ease of the German advance into Russia, and the absolutely horrendous wall of steel that eventually faces off against them. It must be clarified here, the Grand Campaign offers a 'split' in the routes available. Electing to stay on the Eastern Front follows the player and their army as they win or lose in Russia, but no matter how fantastic the one's ability might be, the rest of the German army will be ground down to defeat and sadly, users will be told to retreat. The campaign follows the historical scenarios, so Germany will fall and battle away in futility.

On the other hand, one can elect to 'give up' a lot of their forces in order to continue the fight over on the Western Front, defeating the Allied Forces at Normandy. Surprisingly, this route does allow for an ahistorical what-if scenario.

On the whole, Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 is a stunningly brilliant tactical game, with a campaign that lives up to its billing as 'grand' and will easily force players to invest hours and hours of game time in order to progress. Gone are all the limitations in the base game and the AI is now brutal, counter-attacking with alarming regularity. This is essentially the war game to end all war games.

Screenshot for Panzer Corps: Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This is what Panzer Corps should have been, but it is recognised that the developers needed a base game to test the waters with first. The Complete Grand Campaign 1939-1945 DLC bundle is an armchair general's heaven among heavens. It lives up to its billing as a grand epic that requires hours upon hours of investment and game play in order to see it through to the end. Truly a masterpiece in the genre and one of the best games ever made. Given the scarcity of the genre, it is likely to remain at the top of the ladder for a very long time.

Developer

The Lordz Games Studio

Publisher

Slitherine

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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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