Game: Blitzkrieg 3
Blitzkrieg: A war conducted with great speed and force; specifically, a violent surprise offensive by massed air forces and mechanized ground forces in close coordination
As the third installment in the Blitzkrieg rollercoaster ride of military magic, Blitzkrieg 3 prides itself in recreating a historically accurate World War 2 RTS that throws you knee-deep into filthy trenches. On-screen commands govern your every move, and troops wade through mud under constant threat of enemy ambush, setting the stage for a speedy tactical showdown. Graphically, it’s a step up from Blitzkrieg and Blitzkrieg 2 which rocked a gritty, granular look achieved through the custom made Enigma Engine. But beyond Unity’s enhanced lighting, shadow mapping, and glossy realism, Blitzkrieg 3’s campaign is the real star—as it should be.
I’m a stranger to the Blitzkrieg series, so this review isn’t a comparative analysis—it’s a standalone commentary from a strategy fan. As a point of reference, many Steam users have brought up Men of War and Command and Conquer, so if you liked those games Blitzkrieg 3 might just be up your sleeve, too. The year is 1940, and the North African Campaign is full swing. In the single-player campaign, you assume the role of British forces heading the invasion on Egypt’s fiery doorstep, and need to complete various objectives like gaining control of buildings, sniping enemy waves, and obliterating Italian tanks with your squadron of soldiers.
There are two other missions to choose from: infiltrating German territory as Polish soldiers, or using Russians to overtake a German encampment. Returning players should feel right at home with the user interface—essentially unchanged, save for the objectives which are presented much more clearly (sayonara neon green), and a prettier, pseudo 3D interactive world map. I only found the save system to be very confusing—there aren’t distinct slots, and often I’d have to reluctantly restart campaigns, losing progress and sinking into a cycle of frustration. This area definitely needs some tweaking and further clarification.
It goes without saying, but Blitzkrieg 3 is strictly mouse and keyboard strategy, and in my opinion, provides just the right amount of challenge on normal difficulty; lose too many men and fail the mission, but play it smart and stealthy behind garrisoned barriers, and you win. Harder modes introduce more objectives that need ticking off—perfect for RTS veterans. Sadly, you can’t seem to heal injured units, and the initial loading time is a bit long, but these issues aren’t dealbreakers by any means.
On many occasions, I found myself craving the ability to rotate the camera like Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun to see the enemy better, especially when they’re obscured by bushes and buildings. Slightly more troublesome were the random screen freezes that needed a complete game reboot, but this could very well be due to (my) laptop performance issues. What’s most enjoyable about Blitzkrieg 3 is the range of controls you can use: lay down, dig trenches, attack buildings and hide within guard towers for protection, but I would have loved an even more expansive repertoire; land-mines, grenades, camouflaging tree-climbing snipers and being able to conceal troops in bushes for the element of surprise.
A quick glance at Blitzkrieg 3’s graphics tells you the amount of artistic detail poured into this game is incredible. Trees, grasslands and houses are more life-life, and the ability to zoom into the action at an almost street view angle was just great. I really applaud the soundtrack as well, a polemical instrumental mix of drums, trumpet and strings, and if there were vocals Sabaton would absolutely be the headliner. Thematically, the closest game I’ve played to Blitzkrieg 3 is the excellent and convincing Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, and even though there were standout moments in Blitzkrieg 3—the superb German and Russian voice overs, the satisfaction of completing missions—I never felt the same inescapable wonder and immersion; I completely lost track of time playing Age of Empires because each clan felt unique, battles gave a greater feeling of agency, and there were multiple focus points.
Blitzkrieg 3 is the kind of game that rewards patience, well-planned tactical manoeuvres and anyone who enjoys devouring war history narratives. It’s authentic, gets the pacing right, and delivers genuinely interesting campaigns that are visually impressive, and yet, seems unsure of its own footing. More than random screen freeze, gameplay falls short of excellence because the goal feels too singular—defeating waves of enemies is exciting, but additional background events should be there to supplement the action.
Blitzkrieg 3 is out now through Steam (PC, Mac) for $29.99 USD (Standard edition).
Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.