Panzer General 3D Assault

snap19_1A ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ kind of wargame.

The original Panzer General was something of a last best hope for mainstream computer wargames. Once the master of the genre, SSI, faced with stagnant wargame sales and more profitable ventures in other genres, had been slowly abandoning wargames for several years. However, they took a chance by creating a wargame that would appeal to the masses. Grognards were not amused with initial reports of the project which would reportedly emphasize playability and fun over intense realism and micromanagement.

Panzer General gave birth to a slew of sequels ranging from the very good (Fantasy General) to the mediocre (Allied General) to the simply awful (Star General). By the time the real sequel, Panzer General II, rolled around most of the panache of the original had worn off, and, more seriously, that official sequel, despite being a fine game, seemed more of a graphics update than an entirely new game. What better way to breathe new life into an aging franchise than…making the leap to 3D?

Well it is 3D, and the changes go far beyond being able to zoom and pan around the 3D terrain. In fact the entire system has pretty much been overhauled since Panzer General 2, and some players will doubtless regard these changes as revolutionary enhancements while others will find them merely arbitrary. They certainly make a big difference in how the game feels and plays. I finally came to appreciate the cleverness and balance of these elements as well, but it took several days to become comfortable with them.

Stars and Stripes

snap7_1The biggest change is the scrapping of the venerable “prestige point” system. Instead, there’s a three-tiered arrangement of “stars, slots, and promotions.” Here’s how it works: each leader can perform X number of actions per turn (with “X” being equal to that leader’s number of “stars”). The more actions a commander can perform, the more effective will be the unit he commands. Units commanded by one to four star leaders occupy one abstract “slot” in the roster of available units. When a leader is promoted to five stars, his unit occupies two slots; eight stars equals three slots.

Between battles, you can swap leaders from active duty to the officer pool. Victories bring promotions, which you can distribute as you see fit (being able to promote a leader on-the-spot, if he achieves a really slick maneuver, is a nice emotional touch). What this all boils down to is the option to deploy a small number of extra-potent units, or a larger number of mediocre units, depending on your planned strategy. In the aggregate, all the features of the Army Management screen give you much more control over your resources than was the case in all previous PG games.

A major part of Panzer General’s original success was due to the cunning balance between historical plausibility and its addictive, intuitive interface. PG3D is more of a lite wargaming experience, but the numerous customization features give it a fine-grained sophistication that compensates. Even with blurry graphics and considerably smaller battles, this much-revised sequel is a worthy addition to the Panzer General heritage.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Win95

Tags: Panzer General 3D Download Full PC Game Review