previews\ Feb 1, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps - PC - Preview

Most WWII-based games take place on various battlefields across Europe and sometimes Japan, but Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps changes the scenery a bit and focuses on the battles fought in Africa. Encore has teamed up with European developer/publisher Monte Cristo to release DR vs. AK here in North America.

The main mode of DR vs. AK is its Story Mode; it follows a group of soldiers as they take part in the many conflicts within Africa. This is kind of a nice change of pace, because usually the story just follows an entire country or group instead of select individuals. This makes for a more personal story and you care more about the characters going into battle. You can also choose to play in Campaign Mode where you play as a certain side through the whole game, or you can start a Scenario. The Scenarios are single battles where you’re given objectives that you must complete.

DR vs. AK has many different stages, from desert to docks, villages to airfields, or bases to an oasis. Players can interact with the environment either by entering a building, hopping in an abandoned vehicle, manning a turret, or blowing everything up.  Attention has been paid to many little details in both visuals and gameplay. For example, if your tank attacks an occupied building, the entire side of the building being shot at by your tanks will fall apart, revealing the decimated interior. Also, destroyed objects like tanks, buildings, and people don’t disappear, showing off the carnage that took place.

Before each battle, you are assigned a certain amount of points. You use these points to purchase the units you want to take with you into battle - no base-building or amassing enormous armies here folks. Some of you may not like the sound of that, but it really is a nice system. You’re much more careful with your units, and it makes it that much more fun to steal an enemy’s vehicle.

There are lots of cool combat abilities allowed as well. Now if you’re going up against a tank, instead of just shooting until it blows up you can actually aim at its treads or turret and try to disable it first. There are 70 authentic WWII soldiers and vehicles at your disposal from planes, tanks, and artillery to flamethrowers, machine gunners, and riflemen. Players can also pause the game to take a look around and plan ahead. Up to 3 commands can be given while the game is paused; taking place once the game is un-paused.

The usual strategy game options are included in DR vs. AK, such as creating groups and assigning them to number keys for easier access, double-clicking a unit to select all like units, force attacking and so fourth. You can also watch replays of your missions, which is becoming increasingly popular. There’s also multiplayer support; up to 4 players can duke it out over LAN or the internet.

Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps provides a realistic and entertaining experience, with the help of detailed environments and units. The game plays really well, and the story keeps you interested in the characters. The demo is available now, and the final version should be out soon.    

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