copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Codename: Panzers, Phase Two  

Rati ng:

Impact: Forgettable

First, I’d like to state that I played this game out quite a while ago; however, I only now decided to put my hands on the keyboard for it. The reason for that is that there’s really not much to say about Panzers Phase Two, especially to those who played the first part of the game. Well, maybe there is something to say about some of its original features, but somehow I’m not eager to. The reason for that, I believe, is in the fact that it’s a World War II based strategy game. And once again the allied forces will win (what a shocker). And as the player once leads a horde of units (the only way to defeat an enemy group is to bring a larger group) on the battlefield thinking “That bush looks familiar”, as he comes across places where, it seems, he's been in numerous other WWII games. However, the reason could also be in the fact that Phase Two doesn’t annoy the player in any way seriously, and neither does it stand out much. It plays like it’s expected to, and when things go like they're expected to what's there to note about them?


It’s the first half of the 2nd World War (wouldn’t you be able to guess that blindly from the title alone?), and the Italian corps are in Africa helping the Germans to fight the Allied forces. The player first sees the war through the eyes of an Italian commander who, besides working as a buffer for the Germans against the English, is searching for his lost brother Sergio. There are three interrelated campaigns, providing the player with control first over the Axis, then Allied and finally the Partisan forces. In the second campaign the focus turns on an English and an American commander, who, after Africa, take part in the invasion of Italy. Finally the focus goes to the Yugoslavian rebels, fighting for their freedom. Missions, although relatively scripted, mainly consist of shooting at something until destroyed. There are main, optional and secret objectives. Yes, the latter ones are completed by accident (or by listening to common sense).

Although the three campaigns are connected with the story, each of these campaigns is interrupted rather abruptly at the end of each campaign. The last one, the Partisan campaign, in particular feels too short and kind of unfinished. In any case, the story is not particularly interesting. Perhaps it's because the characters are not well played and not well presented to the player.

From the name of the game one might conclude that it’s all about tanks. Well, it’s not entirely true. Phase Two is a typical strategy game with a tone placed on the armored vehicles. Unfortunately, most of the infantry units do play a very insignificant role.

It quickly becomes evident that the game has an unbendable rod of tactics that, although surrounded by many tactical freedoms, dictates a certain mandatory strategic path, and it’s important the player understands that as early on in the game as possible. The tutorial, although clear about the main features of the game, does not explain this important notion to the player.

Firstly, the performance in each mission, and in particular the first one, is very important for two key reasons:

1. Whatever the player has leftover will be part of his force the next mission. That means he has to take very good care of his troops.

2. Depending on the player’s performance, he will receive a certain amount of points, with which he, from time to time, will be able to buy reinforcements. Therefore, he better perform well. What exactly is meant by "performing well" is somewhat unclear.

Secondly, there's the strategic issue. The victory mainly lies in the smart use of snipers, medics, artillery and two trucks specializing in repair and the distribution of ammo. The other vehicles and soldiers are useful (and are sometimes necessary), but they aren’t the spear of the arrow. The player must therefore be cautious with what he shops for, and there’s a lot he can shop for, using the earned points. The units are provided from both countries that participate in the current campaign. As the campaign progresses, better tanks become available. However a lack of a repair or an ammo truck in battle will mark all that new armor useless.

The first time I found out that the infantry can’t inflict any damage to the tanks with their bullets and the tanks need to restack on ammunition, I rejoiced. Had I finally found the strategy game that praises reality and logic? Well, no. What I saw next was a tank firing directly at a tightly placed group of infantry, and the life bar of that group slowly reducing like an installation bar. The same I saw in a fight between two tanks. It was almost like they were hitting each other with tennis balls. And, by the way, one of these "super-tanks" was Sherman: the small and cheap cart, which in reality, especially in the first part of the war, was leaving small dents in the Tiger's massive armor. All in all, Phase Two leaves an impression of an arcade RTS (real-time strategy) game we’ve seen so many times before.

Not to strike a feeling in the reader that Phase Two is lacking in originality! The wrapper of the previously mentioned mandatory rod is really varied. The tank crew (that often survives the destruction of their tank) can occupy any empty vehicle. Enemy vehicles can be "emptied" by using the flamethrowers or Molotov cocktails to smoke out the enemy crew. Infantry can occupy buildings, and in large numbers it can wreak havoc on the armored vehicles by throwing their grenades (unfortunately the "havoc" part is only achieved in the experienced hands of the AI). Another interesting strategic element is the armor system. Different sides of a tank are of different strength, and the armor integrity is reduced on each side separately. This forces the player to choose the position of his tanks wisely. Oblivious to which side is turned are the artillery and air strikes, which can often tip the tide of battle. There are also plenty of other small-scale features like mines, which are only visible if you outfit your infantry with minesweepers, or the lights that increase the visibility during night missions. Overall, there's plenty of interesting content for a new player to appreciate.

Apart from the main campaigns, Phase Two offers an interesting skirmish and multi-player mode. The first one is practically the second one, but with an AI enemy instead of a living competitor. There are two types for both modes. The first one simply brings victory to the last man standing. The second goes further and throws several neutral bases on the battlefield that, if captured, can produce either infantry or vehicles. The end goal is the destruction of enemy units, of course.

There’s not much that annoys the player during the game. However one of the few things is the enemy AI. After commanding your forces to move to a certain point on the map and following a 30-seconds game freeze, you might find that half of your forces, if not all, will declare the inability to get there. And sometimes they might stop half-way to the objective. That means you will sometimes have to guide them through the corners like a baby who’s barely learned how to walk.


The graphics are what you might expect from a good strategy game: detailed but not well shaped. The effects are nicely done though. Explosions are realistic (and plenty). The enviroment is destructible. That means buildings can be blown up, while trees and other obstacles can be trampled. Although the setting is generally the desert, that desert is well depicted with its sandstorms and dry cracks in the ground. It does make one wonder if the developers have again used the if-we-place-most-of-the-events-in-the-desert-then-we-don’t-have-to-model-much trick.


The only really noticeable thing about the sound in the game is the acting. It’s hard to say whether it’s good or bad. The characters are given strong accents, and it feels like they are made fun out of. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their text is a little cheesy though, and the few jokes that are said aren’t funny. For the rest, everything seems to be present sufficiently but not noteworthy.


Important to note is that for the level of graphics that the game offers, its general performance is inexcusably low, especially when you contrast it against other strategy games with better visuals. On the other hand, the game doesn’t crash and there are few bugs, if any.


Panzers Phase Two is another WWII game (gag). Although it has plenty of original content, in its essence, it’s still a typical RTS (more gag). It follows in the path of its predecessor to be a good RTS. With a single-player campaign, a skirmish and a multi-player this game has plenty of replay value. For someone who looks for a new quality game in this genre, Phase Two will be of interest. Other than that there’s not much to note about this twin brother of Panzers Phase One.

I am just so bored with World War 2 Games. Come on, United States, start a bloody war in another country so that developers have more material to choose from.