2 September 2014

PC Game Review: Panzer Corps Grand Campaign '45 West

Scott Parrino takes the field with the German Army in the last installment in the Grand Campaign DLC series.

Published on 4 APR 2013 4:29pm by Scott Parrino

The Panzer Corps Grand Campaign DLC series (and your German Army if you’ve been carrying since Poland) has finally reached its conclusion with the release of Grand Campaign ’45 West. GC ’45 West is the tenth DLC expansion, arriving just almost a year and a half after the first release of the DLC line with GC ’39. This review won’t necessarily be about Panzer Corps, as we have already reviewed it when it first came out in July 2011, but it will be about the DLC itself as well as the latest update v1.13 that came out and how it affected Panzer Corps.

 

On the Field

Grand Campaign ’45 West definitely captures the sensation of being up against the wall as the Allies close in around Germany. The well-done pre-mission briefs get the point across of what is expected to get a Decisive Victory, something all generals should achieve. The expansion starts out on December 16 of 1944, right when the Germans are launching their last great offensive with Operation Wacht am Rhein, and boy do you get all the powerful toys of war. Tiger IIs, Jagdpanthers, Me-262s, V1 and V2 rockets, you name it, the Wehrmacht is not holding back at all in its bid to end the war on their terms.

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It becomes abundantly clear that the Allies did show up to battle, and despite the initial surprise, got back on track on being a fearsome fighting force. This is represented by the incredible amount of air power the Allies possess that nibble at your ground forces with near impunity. Combined with the expensive amount of prestige it costs to repair your hard-hitting late-war units and the numerical superiority of combined Allied forces, GC ’45 West is no easy expansion.

As with the previous DLCs, depending on your success or failure, the campaign can branch favorably or negatively for you. This gives the game a good replay factor, as I found myself redoing a scenario a few times to change my tactics and force composition in order to secure my objectives for more prestige or have some units survive to make it through to the next scenario. Continuing to fail led to historical battles such as Operation Nordwind and of course the final battle near Berlin. Succeeding led to delightful “what-if” scenarios such as a 1945 version of Dunkirk, and then the invasion of Britain.

I found the AI to be challenging at the pre-set difficulty level of “Colonel”, to the point where it would definitely exploit my weaker units and utilize air power on my support units or those in transport. With the U.S.’s air superiority in some scenarios, it becomes an interesting test of wits and speed as I wanted, no, needed, to get my units to capture enemy airfields and secure my objectives before P-51s and P-47s whittle my units down.

The addition of 18 new scenarios and five new units all for $5 (digital download only) feels like a steal.  If you’ve been playing the DLC expansions since day one, no doubt that having ten installs for all of them might seem like a file management pain in case of getting new PCs (or having the misfortune of a hard drive failure). Fear not, just recently it was announced that there will be a giant Mega Pack that contains all the DLC expansions, perfect for those that have been patient and sitting on the sidelines waiting for such a release to happen.

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The Update

A few weeks ago, the v1.13 update for Panzer Corps dropped, just in time for the release of Grand Campaign ’45 West. The update itself fixed a few tile bugs, as well as the Grand Campaign ’45 West units (V1, V2, Go-229 Flying Wing Fighter, Arado E-555 Strategic Bomber, and Arado Ar-234 Tactical Bomber).

Some of the biggest changes came towards the UI and controls – additional information and tooltips to display to the player for an easier and more informative display of relevant and necessary info. A unit’s battle history will show when the unit upgrades and actual ground state is shown in deploy phase (this is very important and a much-welcome fix). Immobile structures that are spotted will remain spotted on the map, which is a very logical thing to do, since bunkers can’t grow legs to walk away.  There are other little changes that are more aesthetics or general use, like having the sort order tweaked on the unit list to have SE units shown after normal units and having different screens for Decisive Victory, Marginal Victory, and Loss. It’s these little changes that add more to the experience of Panzer Corps.

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Modders will be happy to see some new options available for them, such as more settings in trigger conditions and actions, the ability to add new custom movement types, and even new unit traits. These unit traits can be “camo” which makes the unit hard to spot, “captureflag” ability determines what units can capture flags, “kamikaze” has units die after an attack, and “missile” has air units unable to refuel on friendly airfields. This opens up a lot more custom scenario options for modders and anything here is always welcome as a positive.

In the “other” category of the update, there are usually just some small ancillary changes, and the v1.13 update has a few. Localizations for Russian were fixed, an issue with ground units deploying on the water without transports were fixed, and others. One of the more interesting “other” changes in the update are the new “dice chess” cheat. This cheat is a bit like the “chess” cheat but adds in randomization (plus or minus 20% to suppress and hit from its normal value). This is a great middle ground for those that want to play their scenarios in the chess format but don’t want it too structured and want to have some curveballs in the mix.


End of the Line

Grand Campaign ’45 West is the last of the Grand Campaign series. It’s been a long road but a much-enjoyed one. My ruling: the price is good, the scenarios are challenging and varied, the new units are fun to use – the whole package is worthy purchase. Now I know there are going to be three kinds of people that are Panzer Corps fans and have a decision to make, I hope I can help. If you’ve purchased every Grand Campaign from release, you won’t be disappointed with ’45 West. If you’re the type that has bought a few of the Grand Campaigns (but not all) and want a reason to pick this specific one, I’d say it’s the end-war situation that is an interesting and fun draw. You can either bring the end of the war to the Allies or receive it at Berlin. Now if you’re if the wargamer that hasn’t gotten any of the expansions at all, but you are interested in them, I would say way for the Mega Pack. It’ll have all the expansions in one convenient package for you. Either way, it’s hard to be disappointed by the Panzer Corps line.

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Review written by: Scott Parrino, Editor-in-Chief