Most of the top WW2 gaming lists are dominated by first person shooters. While they undoubtedly provide an action packed gaming experience, they aren’t all of what the genre has to offer. Strategy games, whether turned based or real time, provide an immersible experience that compliments the World War II niche quite well. So, what are the WW2 strategy games to be on the lookout for? Let’s find out.
5. Panzer General (PC)
It would be hard to compile a list without one of the most successful turn-based strategy games to come out of the mid-1990s. Panzer General puts players in control of an army across 38 campaigns all set in the peak of Germany’s fall during the Second World War. It plays similarly to a point-and-click adventure game where players are required to execute their commands, one at a time, through the use of a mouse.
Visually, Panzer General isn’t the most impressive game. Each campaign is presented on an operational level hex map, which slightly resembles a honeycomb and doesn’t leave much to be wowed over. There are a few brief animations that accompany a player’s commands, but they quickly become repetitive and uninteresting. However, for a game that’s nearly 20 years old, that could be expected.
Panzer General is otherwise a solid strategy game that deserves this honourable mention as one of the top five WW2 strategy games. It will satisfy those who simply require a functional, engaging game that provides some level of depth and mental stimulation.
IGN Score: 8.3 (Community Rating)
Personal Score: 7.0
Age Advisory: K&A (North America)
Release Date: December 01, 1994 (World)
4. Pacific Storm (PC)
Pacific Storm is a hidden diamond in the rough. With so many strategy games being set in the European Theater, the prospect of being able to duke it out in the Pacific side of the conflict is a much needed breath of fresh air. Fortunately, the game delivers on many levels for fans of real time strategy games. While players are able to reconstruct historically accurate battles, this needn’t be the case and sometimes the computer opponent won’t respond accurately. For example, the Japanese might not always attack at Pearl Harbor, or they might try to shift their focus towards the north rather than the south. Each decision made by the player takes the game in entirely different directions, which might create a completely different “war” than what players are familiar with.
Unfortunately, with so many units being made available to a battle, there is a sense of framerate stutter in heavily animated sequences. The minimalistic approach to visuals in this game shouldn’t create this condition, but further research into the matter revealed that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this apparent glitch. Otherwise, the palette is appropriately sharp for the game, the text is readable, and the game meets what I’ve come to expect from the real time strategy genre.
When players are able to look past the lagging visuals, they’ll find a solid game that’s certainly worth a prospective purchase. It is functionally sound and gives players a different twist on WW2 strategy games: something I’d argue is a necessity for this niche.
IGN Score: 8.0 (Community Rating)
Personal Score: 7.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America)
Release Date: September 28, 2006 (World)
3. Company of Heroes 2 (PC)
Company of Heroes 2 is a bit of a mishmash of various creative ideas. When THQ went under, SEGA was quick to save this title for impending doom and breathed new life into the game. While in many respects the game doesn’t deviate from the elements that made the original such a hit, this later release revealed a much more cunning AI that is a truly formidable force in the real-time strategy world. However, players shouldn’t approach this as they would any other RTS game, no. In Company of Heroes 2, keeping units alive and retreating them whenever necessary is essential to victory because units “level up” according to how long they’ve been alive. This is combined with a need to monitor weather conditions. Blizzards in key Russian locations during the Second World War can freeze units to death if they’re exposed to the cold for too long.
The graphics of Company of Heroes 2 are excellent and follow on from the very high standards set by the preceding game. However, the cutscenes of the game awkwardly use the in-game engine, which can create sudden shifts of troop placement and almost give them a “bouncing” effect. Nonetheless, the detail afforded to the game is hard to match in the real-time strategy market.
Company of Heroes 2 certainly goes a long way in giving players one of the most challenging, involved RTS experiences available on the market today. While it’s held back slightly by occasional visual issues, it’s one of the most well-ranked games for those seeking a WW2-based RTS.
IGN Score: 8.4
Personal Score: 8.5
Age Advisory: Mature (North America), 15 (Europe)
Release Date: June 25, 2013 (World)
2. Blitzkrieg 2 (PC)
Following on from its predecessor is another name that stands out above the original. Blitzkrieg 2 improved on a new niggling issues that players were experiencing in the first release. Instead of a sphere-based map, the mini map is now flat. Also, the number of troops available to players was increased to 250 over the standard 200, which made way for quite a few more bits of artillery. The game begins after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and follows other key points during the Second World War.
The game isn’t without visual fault, but comparatively speaking it is significantly better than the original release. Tank explosions light up the skies with an assortment of particle effects. The terrain has also been given special attention. Now, players won’t be able to traverse mountains with ease, nor will they be able to bring their onslaught of large vehicles over steep inclines. However, modest computer users should be warned that the game is quite resource intensive. Modern computers should handle this title with ease, but those still using older hardware might experience issues with reduced framerates during heavy battle sequences.
Blitzkrieg 2 attempts to bridge the gap between strategic thought and responsiveness to sudden changes and does so quite well. It should certainly be considered by players seeking a more modern strategy game focused on World War II, but is my personal runner-up to what I would consider to be the best offering.
IGN Score: 8.4
Personal Score: 8.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 12+ (Europe)
Release Date: October 02, 2005 (North America)
1. R.U.S.E. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
This multi-platform title has no clear winner when it comes to a preferred release. Each edition is balanced and contains the same positives across the board, so it seems unfair to give precedence to one particular edition. The game follows the story of Joseph Sheridan, a fictional character who becomes the General of the First Armored Division in the United States Army. Players guide Sheridan throughout pivotal moments during the Second World War. However, what sets this game apart is the ability to use decoys to try and manipulate opponents. Players can spread propaganda and other information as a means to demoralizing opponents through information warfare: rather than the standard brute-force approach of many real time strategy games.
There are a variety of particle effects through explosions to accent the detailed graphics that are present in this game. However, players will require a more modern system as this game is perhaps the most demanding title when it comes to system resources on the PC. The eye candy that’s in store for players is certainly worth the investment though!
The unique implementation of information warfare makes R.U.S.E. stand out from the rest. The game is accented by the slogan “don’t believe what you see”, which translates to players must always be on their toes at all times to determine what’s going on. It is not a passive point-and-click adventure. Instead, players must be prepared for one of the most involved gaming experiences available on the WW2 game market today.
IGN Score: 8.5
Personal Score: 9.0
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 16 (Europe)
Release Date: September 07, 2010 (North America), September 10, 2010 (Europe)