Computer games have interestingly taken a back seat to console games in recent years. While there are still quite a few games coming out for the PC nowadays, they are nowhere near as volumous as those being released for consoles. Nonetheless, there are still quite a few great PC WW2 games being released and some from yesteryear hold up quite well, too!
5. Wolfenstein 3D
An honourable mention must be given to the father of all first person shooters, Wolfenstein 3D. Itself the son of the “original” FPS, Rise of the Triad, Wolfenstein 3D puts players in control of an Allied spy who was taken prisoner and placed in a Nazi stronghold. After escaping, players gradually take down Adolf Hitler’s elite before confronting Hitler himself (albeit a robotic, android-like version of him).
Obviously the visuals of a 21-year-old game cannot compete with the visuals of today, but they bear a certain fanciful charm that still appeals to gamers of today. In fact, the game’s 20th anniversary was celebrated with a free-to-play Internet port in 2012, which received a considerable amount of press coverage on social media outlets. For the era of the game, though, the graphics were detailed and provided the framework for future “3D” video games to come out of the early 1990s.
This game has long been in the “abandonware” category of games and it is freely available to play online. If your search for a modern WW2 PC game is coming up a bit short, then it might very well be worth checking out this classic game. After all, it’s where it all started for the first person shooter genre on the PC!
IGN Score: 8.4 (Community rating)
Personal Score: 8.0
Age Advisory: Mature (North America), 16+ (Europe)
Release Date: May 05, 1992 (World)
4. Day of Defeat
This title originally started as a modification for Half-life, but became so popular that it was released as a standalone retail game. Day of Defeat is a multiplayer only first person shooter that highlights various pivotal moments in Western Europe at the height of World War II. However, there isn’t much sense of historical accuracy in this game. Much of what players experience are typical online game modes, like capture the flag (or files, in this case) and destroying targets by planting bombs. Beyond the presence of the Axis and Allies and historically accurate weapons, there isn’t much that separates the game from the several first person shooters that have dominated the online scene.
With that being said, Day of Defeat is a passable visual experience. Given its age, players should once again have limited expectations in this department, but this aspect makes it playable on the majority of modern systems, which can’t be said for a lot of computer games! There are also official Mac OSX and Linux releases, too. This means Day of Defeat is playable on most computers with even modest hardware.
Players who yearn for an action-based first person shooter would definitely do well to pick up Day of Defeat. Its community continues to grow by the day, so players won’t be hard pressed to find friends and adversaries at any time of the day. It’s for this reason that the title is held in such a high regard by so many.
IGN Score: 8.0
Personal Score: 8.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America)
Release Date: May 01, 2003 (World)
3. Battlefield 1942
In the realm of multiplayer games, there are few titles that can hold up to the merits that Battlefield 1942 presents. The sheer volume of players per game alone makes it an exhilarating experience with up to 64 players being able to duke it out across various World War II settings (mostly Pacific and Stalingrad): using up to 32 different vehicles on land, sea, and in the air. However, there are quite a few hidden gems along the way that keep players coming back to this game.
One of the best selling points of this game is its spawn system. Should the action be proving too intense for players, they’re free to choose any “base” within their control in order to bring themselves further away from the firefight and approach it more cautiously. However, each loss will increase the duration that players have to wait in between spawns as the team’s available lives (or “tickets”) decreases. Players could find themselves waiting for up to 30 seconds to respawn, which counters the idea that kamikaze missions can be helpful.
Players with modest computer hardware are advised to look elsewhere. This was particularly true around the time of its release, where 64 MB graphics cards were luxuries. Today, it’s likely that the majority of modern computers will be able to handle this game flawlessly and this is a testament to its long lived community of dedicated players. The visuals otherwise provide an impressive, detailed experience; especially for a game from this era.
Full scale warfare is the name of the game here and those who enjoy multiplayer games would be hard pressed to find a better WW2 game. The game does include a single player feature, but it pails in comparison to what online gamers have in store (few campaigns, quick play through).
IGN Score: 9.3
Personal Score: 9.3
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 16+ (Europe)
Release Date: September 11, 2002 (World)
2. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
As the runner-up to the best WW2 game, Allied Assault has quite big shoes to fill, but it does so with such perfect execution that it’s hard to find much fault with this game. The game focuses on rescuing an OSS officer in 1942, which culminates in Nazi Germany where players must destroy various Nazi weaponry. It is one of the few games where players simply don’t need to frag their way through a variety of Nazi henchmen. While this is crucial to the experience, it’s not the sole focus of the game and players will find themselves needing to complete several objectives along the way in order to progress through the title. Unfortunately, there’s one thing that sticks out in my mind and that’s the poorly programmed AI. Teammates, regardless of what players try to do, will always march through to their own demise. The enemy AI is a bit more flexible and provides players with some degree of challenge, but for the most part they’ll react in ways they’re expected to by even the most novice of players.
This is easy to overlook when players treat themselves to the sensory overload that the game provides. While there’s no bloodshed whatsoever in this game, which makes it particularly appealing to a wider audience, there is no hindrance to the game’s realism or intensity. There are plenty of small effects that are appropriately placed throughout the game. When players gun their way through a series of doors, they’ll be treated to splinters of wood flying in their direction, for example. Players needn’t necessarily require the best of computer hardware either. Even at medium settings, which are playable with as little as 512 MB of RAM and a 32 MB graphics card, players will find lifelike recreations of facial features and scenery.
This game would have been my number one, but it’s held back ever so slightly by the poorly programmed teammate AI. Players will often find themselves in “lone wolf mode”, which might be enjoyable for some players. However, it did make the game unnecessarily difficult at times. Nonetheless, this is one of the best PC experiences when it comes to the WW2 genre and is second only to my first place pick.
IGN Score: 9.3
Personal Score: 9.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 16+ (Europe)
Release Date: January 22, 2002 (North America), February 15, 2002 (Europe)
1. Call of Duty
The game that started it all. Call of Duty was the game that put players in control of various American, British, and Russian forces throughout campaigns in World War II and became an instant classic within the gaming community. In my mind, it is still the game to beat within this category and has paved the way for so many other releases: the Call of Duty series included. Chaos is what the game is all about. The intensity provided by the gameplay experience is simply unrivaled for history-based first person shooters and its combination with historical accuracy, excellent graphics, and a logical storyline makes for one of the best gaming experiences on the PC to date.
The graphics were on-par with some of the best video games in the era and rivalled the sometimes superior hardware available in consoles, like the Nintendo 64. They’re fluid, crisp, and incredibly detailed. There were a few instances I noticed of aliasing, but this could possibly be due to a driver conflict rather than the game itself. These comments certainly aren’t widespread within the gaming community.
Players who are after the best possible WW2 PC gaming experience wouldn’t do wrong with Call of Duty. While many players have moved onto more recent titles, there is still a very active community who enjoy this game online and it’s unlikely to disappear any time soon!
IGN Score: 9.3
Personal Score: 9.7
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 15 (Europe)
Release Date: October 29, 2003 (North America), November 07, 2003 (Europe)