Battle Academy: Operation Husky
Published on 3/12/2013 by Scott Parrino.
The past week or so Ive been getting in some battle time with the Battle Academy: Operation Husky beta, and I have to say that not only is this game still going strong, but its still getting the support it deserves. For being an entry-level World War 2 strategy game, it offers the best of both worlds: the ease of getting in and playing for the greenhorns and tactical depth and strategy that experienced wargamers crave.
After three previous DLC add-ons, covering the invasion of France by the Germans in Blitzkrieg France, the fighting around the disastrous Operation Market Garden with the aptly-named Market Garden, and the theoretical invasion of Britain in Operation Sealion, this time around we get to head to beautiful Italy for Operation Husky.
Operation Husky packs in nine new scenarios, four multiplayer maps, and more than thirty new units, generally covering the German paratroopers (Fallschirmjager) and Italian units to lend a very authentic Operation Husky experience. The expansion adds in the Sicilian terrain set, which has some dusty beaches, colorful country sides, and dangerous towns that are ripe for ambushes and close-quarters combat. The scenarios themselves are pretty diverse and equally challenging. A few notable scenarios Ive tried involved a beach landing of mainly infantry to capture several multiple objectives while fighting off armor and stout defenders; another scenario involves holding a town against an armored onslaught that had me carefully managing my troops as they ran from building to building to manage choke points. As with other Battle Academy scenarios, some give you a choice to outfit your force, or sometimes you have to work with what you are given. The very first mission involves the night drop of US paratroopers, and it was certainly interesting to only not know where they land, but what you might get.
If youre familiar with the Battle Academy franchise, you dont have to play the scenarios in order, which has always been a nice touch to prevent frustration. The scenarios went through some changes while in the beta, with Slitherine fixing or adjusting forces, arrangements, little pieces here and there. The scenarios were kept on a balancing act that teetered between doable and nigh-impossible on the hardest difficulty, which is the one setting I believe most experienced wargamers would venture for. This forced me to manage my forces extra-carefully, losing a squad or even having a unit or two become suppressed from carelessness can easily change the battle. This isnt really much of a surprise considering that the past three expansions have been reasonably well-done scenario-wise, by now the folks at Slitherine have gotten it down pretty well.
There are some new features in Operation Husky that are definitely welcome: unit swap ability. This is a key feature, as sometimes the grid-like battlefield layout can lend itself to some nasty gridlocks. This allows units to directly swap places (if those units have enough AP); no longer needing to take long detours around each other and into any potential ambushes. This has definitely come in handy a lot, especially with how tight some spaces can get in the Italian scenarios.
Graphically, Operation Husky doesnt change anything asides from new models and terrain, mainly because theres no real need to. It runs really well on a laptop and the iPad version as well. I reduced the resolution a bit and eliminated shadows to keep the game running super-smooth on my laptop, but on most standard PCs theres no trouble for having all the details on. The new units look great, and it was nice seeing them in Battle Academy form however, especially the tiny Carro Armato L640 and the Autoblinda 41 armored car.
Likewise with the sound, not much was changed because it honestly didnt need much done. With the addition of Italian voice overs, you do get a bit more immersion when you run into Italian troops that are fighting alongside their German allies. The all-too-familiar Battle Academy sound track is also there as well.
This latest version I have previewed has been very stable, and bugs are either non-existent or very rare, so the finished product is not too far off. Battle Academy: Operation Husky releases on March 20, so there is still some time left before any final changes go in.
Keep an eye out for our official review when its released!
Preview written by: Scott Parrino, Editor-in-Chief