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Panzer General 2: All Your Favorite World War II Equipment
Panzer General 2 continues its predecessor's emphasis on the purchase and development of "Core" units that move with the player from mission to mission.
There are, of course, tank units which operate about as one would expect - they're mobile, deadly against infantry caught out in the open, and vulnerable only to anti tank units or entrenched infantry, tactical bombers, and more powerful tank units.
Although easily defeated by tanks if caught in the open, Infantry nevertheless play a vital role in taking fortified defensive emplacements and cities down. In addition engineer units can function as mobile bridges to help manage river-heavy maps, and cavalry serves as highly mobile light infantry that can keep up with tanks.
Aircraft come in the fighter and tactical bomber varieties, the former are essential for winning control of the skies and the latter function as artillery of the sky - reducing and destroying fortifications and enemy tanks in support of the ground forces.
Artillery, anti tank, anti aircraft, and reconnaissance units are also essential components of any force in Panzer General 2: they fulfill specific roles that help break through established defenses and protect against ambushes or counterattacks. Anti-aircraft units in particular will become vital as deadly efficient bombers are fielded.
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Top Panzer General 2 Units: Germany's Finest
Germany has historically produced some of the highest quality machinery in the world. German Panzer General 2 units reflect this: while expensive, they are devastatingly powerful by the latter years of WWII.
Tanks are only moderately powerful in 1939 - Panzer Is, Panzer IIs and captured Czech tanks dominate the German arsenal. But these light forces soon give way to heavier Panzer III and Panzer IV models, which carried historic Germany to the English Channel and the gates of Moscow. And as the odds against Germany mount, the epic Tiger and Panther tank models will be available, which have added power in Panzer General 2 due to their ability to fire at units two hexes distant, and not merely at adjacent hexes.
Other German units are less easily recognized and in truth less qualitatively superior to Soviet and Allied counterparts, but Stuka dive bombers, Messerschmidt and Focke-Wulf fighters, Elefant tank destroyers, and Pioniere combat engineers provide powerful additions to the German arsenal. And of course the famous 88mm cannon is present in several forms - from towed and mobile air defense models to long ranged anti tank cannons both towed and mounted on Tiger tanks and Elefant tank destroyers.
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Key Soviet Units in Panzer General 2
The historic Red Army began the war with a massive quantitative advantage over the German invaders, and in the famous T-34 tank and IL-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft it possessed a qualitative edge as well. As the Soviet campaign develops in Panzer General 2, units of increasing power are mated with the advantages that come in the game with increased unit experience. The T-34 is available in several incarnations as are the lesser known KV Heavy tanks, and by 1945 the Powerful Iosef Stalin heavy tanks are deployed ahead of the assault on Berlin.
Soviet Guards Infantry formations are the cream of the Soviet infantry force, and the Katyusha mobile rocket launch system can function as the core of the Soviet artillery force. Topping off the Soviet superiority in firepower is the Sturmovik bomber, an airborne tank destroyer that ravages German panzer formations.
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Allied Panzer General 2 Units: Relative Lightweights
Unfortunately for Allied players of Panzer General 2 the Allied unit offerings are largely poor relative to their German opponents. Sherman tanks had historic advantages in numbers, but the fact that eighty percent of Tiger and Tiger II tank losses in the real world were due to air or artillery attack and not opposing tanks aptly demonstrates German technical superiority in tank design over the Western Allies.
The Allied (British/American) Panzer General 2 units that function as game changers are the aircraft, many of which are well known to students of the Second World War and aviation buffs alike. Spitfire and Mustang fighters are equal to any German propeller driven aircraft, and as in history the air superiority offered by these stalwarts is what gives the Allied forces a fighting chance.
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They Just Don't Make Games Like Panzer General II Anymore.
Those of us old enough to remember the 1990's gaming era are often quite dissatisfied with the games that seem to be released these days. While advanced graphics and movie quality cut scenes are fantastic, the increasing popularity of the gaming industry seems to have led to more traditional corporate structures dominating game development and design, structures that emphasize profitability and tight release schedules over innovation and quality.
This is, of course, a generalization that isn't completely accurate, but there does appear to be at least a growing perception among gamers that games have lost something in the past ten years or so, and that the majority of games produced lack certain essential qualities we feel were present in the games of yore.
PC gaming in particular is being crowded out by the glitz and glamor of console games and the Electronic Arts/Blizzard domination of much of the PC game market. So for those of us who find the classics better than most anything newly released - and anyone who just enjoys the campy fun of games before they took themselves too seriously - finding games like Panzer General II or Total Annihilation or the old Mechwarrior series is a bit of a challenge.
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Panzer General II: Look to its Contemporaries.
Games like Panzer General II do exist, but in large part you have to look back to contemporary titles released in the heyday of the turn based strategy genre.
Panzer General 1 is of course an easy example to point to. The predecessor to Panzer General II, the game has more of a campaign focus than the second entry to the series. Maps in the original Panzer General are sized accordingly with major campaigns, and a single mission will often see your forces march from the borders of Germany to the English Channel, or from the western Ukraine all the way to the Caucasus, Stalingrad, and beyond.
Steel Panthers and its sequel, Steel Panthers II are other games to consider. Turn based as well, they are tactical level strategy games where you control individual tanks and squads of infantry as well as anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and artillery units in battles for particular objectives on randomly generated maps. Between the two games the period from World War II to the year 2000 is covered, and some modifications even go beyond this end date. Pre-built scenarios and campaigns cover most every major conflict of from the '30s onward, and an editor allows for infinite replayability - especially as most every tank and armored vehicle used in the twentieth century is also modeled.
Like Panzer General you'll likely need DOSBox to run the game, but its worth looking into.
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Other Games Like Panzer General II
The Hearts of Iron series is probably the best set of games released in the past decade that gets to the heart of what Panzer General II is all about - World War II strategy with a focus on the hardware used. A Grand Strategy series, Hearts of Iron is set in real time but can be played almost as a turn based game, as orders can be given while the game is paused and the results watched in real or accelerated time.
The original Blitzkrieg real time tactical strategy game also contains many of the units in Panzer General, and may come closest of the latter day titles that can be considered games like Panzer General II. With numerous randomly generated missions and core units that go from operation to operation Blitzkrieg certainly attempts to provide the same type of gameplay to a point.
Finally, looking to other contemporary titles that may not be specifically land combat focused can offer a Panzer General II gamer some additional enjoyment. The old Larry bond game Harpoon is played in true real time or accelerated time and is a naval simulator allowing for extremely detailed control over all aspects of modern Naval warfare. A bit off the beaten path for a diehard World War II gamer, Harpoon can still offer quite a bit of enjoyment to gamers looking for detailed, highly immersive gaming experiences with a dose of realism.