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WWII Online Readers

The casualty reports are stunning. The Allies lost 6,071 troops in battle in one day while the Axis forces lost 6,318 soldiers.

Fighting is raging on in Ramet, and though Brussels was liberated from the Germans on July 13, the battle for the city is far from over.

World War II Online, otherwise known as WWII Online, is a Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Game developed for the PC by Cornered Rat Software and Strategy First. The game was first reviewed by GameZone in September 2001 (http://www.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r15791.htm ), and the game had some problems, which tended to cause crashes. Enter the Readers Choice Edition.

Have the core problems gone away? Some of the stability issues have been resolved, but the game still faces the problem of massive map boards that take an enormous amount of time to traverse, if you are in the infantry.

But let’s backtrack a bit. For those who are wondering, WWII Online is a massive undertaking, which recreates the atmosphere of World War II. Players enter the fray on either the Axis or Allied side, but you are not limited to playing as a foot soldier. In fact, players can fly aircraft in battle, or drive a half-track or tank, or take up the gunner position on artillery.

You will have to overcome a big hurdle if you wish to pilot a plane, or drive a tank. The manual that  comes with the game doesn’t explain any of the fundamentals of flying or driving. Instead you need to wade through an electronic manual.

As for being a foot soldier, unless you spawn at a battle, you may have to hitch a ride on a half-track, or hoof it to the battle. The latter can take a long, long time and dull the anticipation of engaging in the war. There are hot pockets of action, and long hikes to it.

Of course, once into a battle, this game presents team-shooter action that is unparalleled in online gaming. Explosions, firefights, bombing runs are all part of the game.

The game does not just ask players to jump into the fray without any training. You can practice offline, learning the controls and working through the specifics of the role you wish to undertake.

A nice element to this game is that the vehicles react differently.

Another drawback to the game are the hoops players have to leap through to get into the game. First, you will need to register with Playnet.com. This is a free subscription. The subscription to play WWII Online will cost you monthly (first month is free), and is a second registration process. Then you will have to wade through the pages until you finally get to where you can launch the game. This is really convoluted.

Graphically the game has some nice elements (like the vehicle models), but the environments are a touch blocky and not really interactive. In training you can walk up to walls and shoot them, without any damage to the wall. However, shoot a target and you will see a small hole in it.

The game tries to emulate the three-dimensional feel, but  for the most part it looks two-dimensional.

WWII Online Readers Choice Edition does correct some of the bugs and stability problem that plagued the game upon its release a year ago. It is a massive undertaking, and Cornered Rat/Strategy First are pioneers in this realm on online gaming. That said, this game still is cumbersome.

It is rated Teen for blood and violence.

 

Gameplay: 7
Unless you spawn at a battle site, prepare to spend a long time getting to a fight. And it can be frustrating to march for 30-plus minutes only to die within the first minutes of arriving at the fight. The manual system for the game is somewhat obtuse, dulling the thrill of instant play.

Graphics: 6.8
This is a mixed bag. The aircraft and ground vehicles are well done, but the environments are a little dull and blocky.

Sound: 7
The sounds of this game are what one expects, and the program does a nice job of translating this aspect of the genre.

Difficulty: Hard
The game’s manuals are overdone, and simply getting a plane up into the air can be a thrilling accomplishment. This is a game that redefines "trial and error."

Concept: 8
Give the developers high marks for the innovative idea behind this MMORPG. The ongoing nature of the game makes it an interesting journey each time the game is launched.

Multiplayer: 8.5
This game only thrives because of its multiplayer aspects. However, without massive amounts of players fighting for either side, it can be a lonely world.

Overall: 7
This game takes dedication and time to play. It does have solid shooter game play, and the diversity of the equipment makes for fascinating and quick-paced gaming ­ if you spawn in the right location. However, this game can use some simplification, not only in terms of getting to the game (and action) itself, but in using the various equipment.

Good

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