reviews\ Jan 13, 2003 at 7:00 pm

World War II Panzer Claws - PC - Review

This game has it all!  You can play the Wehrmacht (German) campaigns, The Red Army, or Allied Forces.  You can skirmish the computer, play other generals online, and design your own battlefields using the editor.  Replayability, huh, it’s got that.  The campaigns are long, but frequent saves can allow you to come and go from the game, but you won’t want to leave. You will find yourself striving for the next mission, and the next ammo dump to bomb.  WWIIPC has several different types of vehicles from light to heavy tanks and armored cars, with Infantry from Paratroopers to Anti-Tank squads and light to heavy bombers, surveillance planes, and Artillery.  Take command of enemy vehicles and structures.  Use them to deceive the enemy while you see how heavily defended they are.  You’ll learn to master line of site, as the three-dimensional terrain is very active in the strategic values of combat.  All extremely easy to use and understand with tutorials.

You’ll command many units of different varieties, and managing them can be a bear.  Not so with Panzer Claws.  You can group your units easily and effectively so all you’ll have to do is push 1-9 on your keyboard to bring them up.  By using a territory overview map, you can see and organize your efforts over many miles of terrain.  You’ll be able to plan Blitzkrieg style attacks utilizing tanks, infantry, and air support.  All so easy, you’ll swear you are ready for command of a real battalion.  Easily zoom in to look at battles from ground level, or manage movements from way up in the sky.  It is just so comfortable and addictive, you’ll be lucky if you ever sleep.

This game takes the reality and experience of WWII, and puts it in a module that is realistic yet not bogged down with needless history lessons.  There are WWII games coming out every month, and each one searches for its own identity.  This one has found one by allowing troops and units to react the way they would in real life.  Infantry can use a multitude of structures for protection and strategic advantage.  Use the same strategies as generals used in 1941.  Now it is a video game, so it’s not exactly real life.  It sure does feel real when all you have is five teams of anti-tank infantry, and you have to crawl through the woods and over mountains in the middle of the night to surprise a pair of Panzers in waiting.  Follow your battle in real time as day turns to night, and allows for the strategic advantage that it brings. 

As solid as the Gameplay is, it would be a waste if it were not for the graphics.  Watch headlights turn on as night falls.  Watch smoke rise from the chimneys of the buildings your troops occupy.  Clear your troops as shrapnel flies from an exploding structure.  See the tracks left by passing columns of tanks.  And all the views can be more detailed by zooming in for a close-up.  So many companies have focused so much effort on making a game that is real time and so strategically encompassing that I’ve felt they have neglected the graphics.  Not so with WWII Panzer Claws. 

As with the graphics, the sound has a great effect.  You’ll hear enemy troops yell as they sight your units.  Machine gun chatter, bombs dropping, and the metal-to-metal squeal of tank tracks.  The music itself is a disappointment, but what can be played other than patriotic band music.  I opted for Metallica - Master of Puppets.  Put me in the mood to wail on some Germans.  Pay attention to the sound effects though, as they will help you to know where and where not to go.   

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.5
I loved the approach they took in setting this game up.  I would consider this a very successful installment of a commonly sought after genre.  It allows for real life strategies involving time and supply issues, easy controls, and a very helpful tutorial system that allows you to load and play. 

Graphics: 8.5
Eidos has taken a concept that is sometimes stuck in board game style limbo, and put it in a Command and Conquer format with the ability to get up close graphics.  I was excited from the moment I saw this game coming. 

Sound: 8
I’d given it a higher score if it had a better musical score, but hey, the sound effects are excellent.

Difficulty: Medium
Very good Tutorials can make the difference between a game that will get rave reviews and the one that will not.  By the end of the second mission, I was fingering through the book because I was ready for the advanced strategies.  It was very quick to begin and start blowing things up, but not so easy that I could just roll through the missions in a matter of 30 minutes.  Easy to learn, challenging to master.

Concept: 7.5
If you are a strategy nut, then you’ve played lots of World War games.  I never tire of the genre, but I do long for publishers to find those that take a new direction.  This game is similar to many before it, but it provides for playability unlike many of its predecessors. 

Multiplayer: N/A
I was unable to play online.  My guess is that it will be fun and challenging once you learn to play by yourself.

Overall: 8
I am addicted to this game.  I can’t stop playing mission after mission.  The strategy is fun, and the graphics make it visually stimulating.  The controls are easy, thus the commands are as well.  This really allows the player to get into the game quickly, and on their way to mastering the strategic component. 


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