AI must be improved in any future versions to give offline play any zest
1939-1945. The Second World War. A popular subject to make a game modification out of, as proved by recent blockbusters such as Medal of Honour and Battlefield 1942. While such glorious first person shooters can attempt to capture the true feeling for a private landing on Omaha beach, it is an altogether different story when trying to portray it from a commander's point of view.
Right on queue Blitzkrieg steps up onto the podium to receive its plaudits and offer its mod before the altar of Yuri's Revenge. Well, I say right on queue"¦ Blitzkrieg is actually a year overdue after a total of two years in development. It is the most famous of all Yuri's Revenge mods, simply because of this record. However, I wonder how much this delay will impact upon the success of Blitzkrieg as a whole, as now people's attention is firmly focussed upon the very impressive C&C: Generals and as someone who is currently playing the multiplayer test version of the game, I can tell you the comedown doesn't feel good. To appreciate the quality which Blitzkrieg boasts, you have to remember what tools they have had at their disposal. Red Alert 2 came with NO official mod support, NO official map making program (Matze produced Final Alert2) and no great desire to help the community further the game. When this is taken into consideration, you really do appreciate the marvellous job that [DK]Phil and company have done.
Abombs are far too powerful... although this is just what happens when you let the Russians smoke near the ammo dump
Not only is the mod itself a dream to play, the whole aura surrounding it, from an enormous readme file detailing all the units of the game and the impressive audio accompaniment featuring the delights of the Dad's Army theme tune, the tune to 'Die Hard 3: With A Vengeance' (and bizarrely some trance), to the outstanding graphical interface which has been implemented. The 'feel' of the game is just right for the period and for this, they deserve top draw marks. Reminds you when you used to rip some paper up at school and leave it in a tray of Yorkshire's finest overnight.
"Enough of that! Is it worth spending all that time downloading on my 14.4k connection?" I hear you all cry in unison. Well it's true, Blitzkrieg is the largest RA2/YR mod I've come across and at around 36mb you can expect a wait of around the following, assuming the server isn't too busy: Cable/ADSL = 12 minutes, 64k ISDN = 1hour 15mins, 56k = 3hours 30mins.
Now onto the important stuff, how the mod plays. Once you're up and running you can choose the Allies, the Russians or the Germans. The Allies were my first choice team and I loved blowing the hell out of the Brutal AI, with Lancaster bombers aplenty. Their tanks are to be used in numbers and in combination with infantry to be most effective against the Germans and Russians. However, if you can build up a fleet of Lancaster bombers and save them until your parabombs and seemingly, infinitely powerful A-Bomb is ready, you can crush almost any base with minimum loss to a ground force which can be sent in to sweep up after your aerial bombardment. The Russians were too much of a novelty for my liking and when I realised there was the King Tiger tank awaiting to be built, the Fuhrer gained my services. The German's vast array of tanks, which are almost all very powerful give them a real edge on the battlefield and when used properly the Germans should win against all, which I feel is a slight balancing issue.
Paul must have been a Lancaster pilot in a previous life... or so he thinks
While I'm making a small moan, I must point out that the mod seems to eat away more resources than the original game and with 3 brutals on a large map with lots happening, you'll want to make sure that your computer is up to the job, to make sure you can make the most of this lusciously crafted mod. The Team also admits that their AI is nothing spectacular as it just launches periodic waves of tanks with SMG/Rifle infantry. As with the original game, the real fun is to be had online, but this poses problems of compatibility so it would be wise to prior arrange games lest you being disappointed at finding no-one else has the mod.
So once you've found someone to have a game with, make sure you have your speakers turned on, because not only does Dad's Army make an appearance with trance music (MC Pike anyone?), but Wiseman does some great Russian voices and it really does add that superior touch to the mod, which when you've spent as long on it as the Blitz team have, superiority is the name of the game. But there's a thing about WW2 and the fact that attracts exactly the same audience with each game, who tend to know more about the subjects of a game than the people who made it. The people who know exactly when a Medium T-34 began sporting a 85mm gun instead of a 76mm cannon. These people will love Blitzkrieg for its historical accuracy but you'll never hear them shut up about how much they'd love to sit inside a Tiger tank or own an officer's uniform. Hang on, is that geek chic, or just plain weird?
Anyway, in summary, Blitzkrieg is the ultimate mod for YR, it harbours few errors and it has enormous appeal, for those who like enormous additions to their panzer divisions or those who just like to build hoards of Lancaster bombers and blow everyone to kingdom come. If an update is released which fixed a few imbalances in the tank divisions and perhaps offered AI worthy of such a glorious mod then this would be only compliment to the greatest mod in existence for this game. Perhaps even missions? I know I'd love to see honour done to the battle of Kursk"¦ but perhaps that is where C&C Generals modding comes in"¦ who knows. Download now.