Steel Di­vi­sion: Nor­mandy ‘44

It’s time to storm those beaches. Again.

PCPOWERPLAY - - Contents -

Devel­oper EugEn SyS­tEmS pub­lisher Para­dox In­tEr­ac­tIvE price uS$ 40 AvAil­Able At StEam, gog www.steel­divi­

Eugen Sys­tems first tried its hand at World War 2 with the rather flavour­less RUSE, a game that was less about the units on your vir­tual sand ta­ble (RUSE was kind of meta like that), than the tricks you could pull to con­vince the en­emy you were flank­ing from one di­rec­tion, when in fact you were at­tacked from an­other po­si­tion en­tirely.

Steel Di­vi­sion: Nor­mandy ’44 es­chews those tricks in favour of a more tra­di­tional strat­egy game, al­beit while still stay­ing true to the God-like sense of scale of the games – you can zoom out to re­view an en­tire theatre, and then zoom in to make sure that one Sher­man tank is po­si­tioned just so to cover a gap in a hedgerow.

Steel Di­vi­sion is ba­si­cally the Wargame se­ries re­done for the Nor­mandy in­va­sion of June 1944. It’s packed with unit de­tail, down to in­di­vid­ual weapon load­outs on the mem­bers of a sin­gle squad, and de­tailed mod­el­ling of a range of ve­hi­cles, from tanks to air­craft and trans­ports.

For each mis­sion you as­sem­ble a deck of cards, match­ing in­fantry, ar­mour, air-sup­port, ar­tillery, and so on, each to be in­tro­duced into a given bat­tle over three phases – so you’ll want to start out scout­ing, then bring in heav­ier el­e­ments and in­fantry, and then maybe mo­bile units to ex­ploit any break­throughs.

Or to plug any gaps in your line if things are go­ing bad.

As much as mi­cro-man­ag­ing units is pos­si­ble, it’s not to­tally nec­es­sary. Units will gen­er­ally look af­ter them­selves, though you may need to in­ter­vene to pull out units that are in dan­ger of

zoom in to make sure that one Sher­man tank is po­si­tioned just so to cover a gap in a hedgerow

be­com­ing sup­pressed. This me­chanic al­lows units that have been forced to bunker down un­der fire to be li­able to cap­ture, but it’s not a quick process – you can track a progress bar pretty eas­ily to see which units need to be moved back, and a sim­ple Fall­back or­der will see them scur­ry­ing out of the line of fire. The trick then is to make the most of your units, max­imise your fire­power against the weak­est points of the en­emy line, and take ground by ma­neu­ver rather than out­right as­sault and at­tri­tion.

It makes for a slower, more de­lib­er­ate pace, and when you get all your units work­ing to­gether (scouts spot­ting for ar­tillery, in­fantry mov­ing up un­der cov­er­ing fire, tanks mov­ing ahead in bounds) it feels re­mark­ably smooth and true to the tac­tics of the pe­riod.

And thanks to some very de­tailed mod­els, and maps taken from aerial pho­tos from the pe­riod, it looks great too.

The game is let down by a very lin­ear cam­paign, but a ro­bust mul­ti­player makes up for it, es­pe­cially in the epic ten-ver­sus-ten co-op bat­tles, where unit co­op­er­a­tion and in­te­gra­tion re­ally come into play, and Eugen’s in­cluded an ex­haus­tive list of units and na­tion­al­i­ties that fought in the cam­paign, so you can con­stantly ex­plore new builds.

There’s a lot of game in this game. DaviD Holling­wortH

This view is a quite lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Op­er­a­tion Over­lord.

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