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While World War II first-person shooters such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor received accolades for their intense run and gun action, the best WWII strategy games like Blitzkrieg, Sudden Strike and Company of Heroes have wowed the gaming crowd because of epic historic campaigns and squad-based tactics. Commanding infantry, tanks, and artillery in real-time and chalking out a potent strategy to vanquish enemies is something every gamer loves to do. And this is exactly what every WWII RTS game offers – strategy, team-tactics and loads of units and infantry to manage and command.
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7. Sudden Strike
Sudden Strike was one of the first World War II real-time tactics games that steered clear of base-building and resource collection to recruit units. Instead, it allowed players to gain control over a limited squad of soldiers, tanks and infantry. Various games such as Desert Rats vs. Africa Korps and Blitzkrieg used similar gameplay mechanics and emphasized squad-based tactics instead of base-building.
Sudden Strike’s in-game physics adds more strategy to gameplay. You can hide your units behind trees and houses to avoid the enemy’s line of sight. Hiding behind trees minimizes damages from tank ordinance to a greater extent. You can also garrison your infantry units in a building to get into a stronger position to fire. Tanks can be repaired to some extent if the damage is low, but may be rendered immobile if not repaired. There are many strategic options, including reconnaissance and sniping targets, to emerge victorious in various scenarios.
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6. Battlestations Pacific
Battlestations is one of those impressive real-time tactics games that involve engaging naval battles, dogfights and submarine battles. It allows you to control an entire airfield or shipyard and issue orders to fighter aircrafts, submarines and other units and relive the historic Pacific battles.
Battlestations: Pacific is the sequel to Midway and has several new combat units and gameplay modes, including Duel. Siege, Escort and Island Capture. Set between Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Okinawa, there are 28 missions to play. Of these 14 missions are played from America’s perspective and 14 from Japan’s perspective. With a historically accurate storyline and exceptional gameplay, Battlestations: Pacific is one of the best games I have ever played.
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5. Men of War
Men of War is a real-time strategy game that stands out. Created by developers Digitalmindsoft and Best Way, the game not only allows players to control, maneuver and attack enemies in real-time, but also lets them control units directly in third-person perspective.
Men of War’s single-player campaign features immersive battles set in North Africa, Greece and even the Soviet Union. Players have to accomplish objectives by organizing troops into squads, call in reinforcements and artillery as well as air support. Gamers can also control submarines and torpedo boats in real-time and in third person mode.
Graphics in Men of War is splendid, especially the top-view perspective. The accurate World War II settings and 3D models gives every good reason for players to play this impressive WWII strategy title.
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4. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
At first, I thought Road to Hill 30 was just another World War II first person shooters. But, I was completely blown away by the squad command mechanics, a feature that allowed me to devise a potent strategy to eliminate my enemies. In Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, players can control soldiers by giving them a set of commands and also step into the shoes of the protagonist to shoot down opponents in first-person mode. Players can give commands like suppress, throw grenades and direct assault to their squad members. Some missions allow gamers to control a tank and issue orders to destroy enemy encampment.
Although the squad-based strategy is similar to games like Full Spectrum Warrior, Road to Hill 30 includes more tactical elements because of its unique “situational awareness" mode. In this mode, the game pauses and the camera zooms out to give an overhead view. This gives the player an idea of his enemy’s position and helps him to chalk out a strategy. The player can ascertain the number of enemies behind cover and position and maneuver his squad to besiege the enemy encampment. This makes the game quite engaging and immersive, allowing gamers to make intelligent decisions to tackle a combat situation.
Road to Hill 30, with its excellent tactical depth and superb realistic visuals is one of my favorites due to its combination of excellent strategic gameplay and first person shooting fun.
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3. Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes is an awe-inspiring real-time strategy game that has provided an incredibly realistic World War II setting and atmosphere. With an immersive single-player campaign and grueling multiplayer mode, Company of Heroes one of the most challenging WWII strategy games I've every played.
Company of Heroes presents accurate historic World War II models and background visuals. The 3D graphics are lifelike, courtesy of the Essence game engine and the Havok physics engine, which gives a more realistic look to destroyed buildings and vehicles. The Essence engine utilizes special effects such as high range lighting and advance shader effects.
With two game modes, i.e. Annihilation and Victory Point Control, Company of Heroes lets gamers chalk out their own strategy in order to emerge victorious. Unlike Blitzkrieg or Sudden Strike, Company of Heroes does not give you a handful of units, but lets you collect resources and recruit players with the available resources. The game’s easy interface lets players plan their own strategy, recruit units by spending resources wisely and take advantage of buildings and vehicles to defeat enemies.
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This WWII real-time tactics game has 200+ units and infantry and gameplay mechanics similar to Sudden Strike. You won’t find any base building feature here. All you have is squads of riflemen, machine-gunners, snipers and a variety of vehicles and assault units to wreak havoc on your enemies.
In Blitzkrieg, proper timing and commands to your units are important tactical aspects to achieve victory. You can call in air support for recon and assault (fighter aircraft and heavy bombers). You will also have additional unit support every time. But you will have to plan your assault and defense before the enemy has an upper hand. You can build trenches and landmines in your defense against the advancing enemies. When attacking, make sure you use your artillery to destroy enemy assault units and infantry. You will also have to be quick in executing your decisions as enemy recon aircrafts and artillery can rip through your defenses pretty quickly.
Blitzkrieg is one of the most accurately detailed and balanced games as it provides a variety of units and infantry and lets you strategize effectively.
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1. Commandos 2: Men of Courage
The Commandos series of World War II strategy games is not your usual WWII real time tactics. You will have to command a bunch of rugged men in green to accomplish various objectives, relying on the special abilities and weapons of a small group of commandos. This is the most challenging aspect of the game, as there isn’t any additional troop support available. You can use stealth, lay traps and snipe down enemies using your reliable sniper, sapper or Green Beret. Whatever be your strategy, just make sure you don’t fall into the enemy’s line of sight.
The unique tactical gameplay of the first few games of the Commandos series has inspired games like Desperados and Robin Hood: Legend of Sherwood. The difficulty level of Men of Courage is high and requires patience and careful planning. The game’s realistic WWII setting and atmosphere creates an exciting gameplay experience for all you fans of World War II strategy games.
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PC game boxshots, courtesy of their respective developers.