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  Preview: Soldiers - Heroes of World War II
On 04/03/04 by James 'Sweetjimmy' Long

Developer: Best Way
Publisher: Codemasters and 1C Company
Release Date: Summer 2004
ESRB: Pending
Official Site: www.codemasters.co.uk/soldiers/
Platform(s): PC

Over the last few days I�ve had the opportunity to play an early version of Heroes of World War II (HWW2) and I have to say I�m intrigued. I had never even heard about it before it showed up on my front step, but after spending a little time getting familiar with this preview copy, I�ll eagerly attest that HWW2 shows some great potential.
:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::

:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::

:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::
Before you say what I know you�re going to say, let me point to Call of Duty which illustrates that World War II can still make an excellent setting for an excellent game. It seems like every other title that hits shelves is based around World War 2 these days, but don�t hold that against HWW2 or else you may be cheating yourself out of a really great gaming experience.

There was very little included with the preview I played with, so I really cannot get into details regarding the storyline, or cutscenes, but I can at least describe how the basic mechanics of HWW2 work. Gameplay takes place from a positional top-down view. Controlling units is primarily done with the mouse (I was able to find a few hotkeys, but for the most part I was flying blind with so little documentation). Aiming and attacking works much like it did in Commandos; move the mouse cursor where you want to aim and click to attack or fire. You can assign quite a few commands to your troops such as go prone, return fire, hide out, etc. You can even have your soldiers jump in vehicles and utilize them.

Starting the Demo, I was put in control of four soldiers and an empty tank. Commanding the soldiers to get into the vehicle was simple enough, and before long I was rolling toward an empty village where I would do battle with a number of nazi scumbags. The most immediate problem I noticed was the breakneck speed at which the game plays. Luckily, I was able to find a �slow down� button, which put everything in slow motion. At that point I could keep up but I still was a little peeved at the lack of tooltips and hotkeys.
:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::

:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::

:: soldiers: heroes of world war II ::
So my tank rolls into this deserted village and Germans begin to pour in. For a short time I do quite well in the tank and just blow up everything as it comes at me. Before long, however, I notice two German tanks bearing down on me. I didn�t last long after that.

Also included in this beta was a demo movie of someone playing the game that obviously played a lot better than I. The movie itself actually showed more of what this game is capable of than I was able to discover on my own. Paying with the mouse alone, I felt a little overwhelmed and therefore became a little frustrated with the controls; but during the movie I noticed that the player was actually controlling the tank and moving the mouse independently and therefore was able to avoid incoming shells while returning fire. Also, I had more than a little difficulty making my individual soldiers attack the enemy effectively, but in the gameplay footage the units were all fighting back and forth, making for a very cool scenario. After watching the video, I couldn't help myself and worked at the demo until I got a better idea of how the controls worked, and once I could hold my own against those filthy Nazis, I was having a blast.

I guess if I had to compare what I saw to other games I've played, I'd say that HWW2 is a combination of Commandos, Army Men, and Silent Storm. The game is Real Time Strategy, but it doesn't involve resource management or unit building. You are given your units and that's what you must make due with, thus allowing you to focus more on the battle tactics and less on the gathering. The environments are fully destructible, so if you roll a tank into a house, it will collapse, and if you shoot off a cannon round into a water tower, it will fall and damage anyone around it. Graphically speaking, HWW2 doesn't look quite as good as Silent Storm, but it runs at a much smoother framerate. Soldiers react realistically to their environment, which is good. Shoot a soldier with a machinegun and he falls down dead. Shoot him with a tank shell and gibbing ensues.

After playing around with the preview build a while, I then browsed around on the disk and found a number of cool in-game movies that showed off more of what this game can do. In one of the movies, a single allied soldier was commanded to sneak up behind a German guard and kill him quietly, which he did. Not far off, another patrolling guard was approaching and the player's soldier took cover in a nearby bush to hide himself. The guard came over to his fallen comrade and began to inspect the body when the soldier then crept up behind him and threw a knife into his back, killing him instantly.

In another gameplay movie, I witnessed a large-scale battle taking place on a town street where German soldiers were attacking from fortified positions and from windows in the buildings. As the allied tank rolled down the street, it obliterated these positions and buildings with its cannon. In yet another battle scene, two allied tanks were going toe-to-toe with a small German force and laying waste to the axis troops. In the background, I then heard the sound of a diving plane and seconds later, a German Messerschmidt crashed into one of the allied tanks in an impressive explosion.

I think what Best Way is aiming for with HWW2 is a very cinematic strategy experience. The singleplayer game, from what I can see, will deliver on that promise. In the included documentation, I did read that a number of multiplayer options will be added to the finished product, one of which will allow up to 16 players! Despite the few downsides that plague all preview betas, the sheer potential of this title is quite obvious. If you're a big strategy fan like myself, keep your eyes on this one.


#1 - Snubber - 04/03/04 @ 11:21 AM EST
Sounds cool. I'll have to keep my eye on this.
#2 - sweetjimmy - 04/03/04 @ 06:50 PM EST
I'm pretty excited about it. HWW2 is actually kind of fresh.
#3 - Pezman - 04/06/04 @ 03:38 PM EST
Screens look hot.
#4 - Bulldog - 04/06/04 @ 03:54 PM EST
Outstanding ... 3 comments.
#5 - colinp - 04/06/04 @ 04:09 PM EST
San Dimas High School football rules!
/ / /
#6 - sweetjimmy - 04/06/04 @ 08:04 PM EST
4-
and 2/3 from gg staff ;)
/ / /
#7 - Anon@81.190.61.183 - 05/09/04 @ 10:44 AM EST
Super giera
/ / /
#8 - Anon@212.37.16.194 - 05/26/04 @ 07:14 AM EST
This looks awesome, I'm gonna try it.
/ / /
#9 - Anon@195.92.168.167 - 05/28/04 @ 02:14 PM EST
helo koty


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