Reviewed: January 5, 2005
Released: December 6, 2005
First, off, let it be known I am a HUGE World War 2 aficionado, I have several books on the subject, I watched Band of Brothers in one day (all 10+ hours of it) and I played WW2online religiously for years. It goes without saying I was stoked to try out D-Day. There is a deluge of WW2 RTS games as of late, companies see what sells and latch onto that concept like the sickening reality TV explosion of recent years. This leads to some titles getting lost in the crowd, and the competition is fiercer to make your particular game stand out.
Published by Q-3 Entertainment, who gave us titles such as Torrente and Medieval Lords, this company isn’t known for its groundbreaking work. Digital Reality/Monte Cristo, the developers, are a little more well known with games such as Imperium Galactic 1 & 2 and specifically for Monte Crisco, who made Desert Rats vs. Afrika Corps. You would think with the latter experience in a WW2 RTS, they would have worked the kinks out…sadly this is not the case.
The game starts out with a sub-par tutorial that gives you the basic idea of troop movement, selection and the like. Thankfully, there is no need to micro-manage supplies like in Command and Conquer or Warcraft, but you do get reinforcements that can be added to your offensive. The focus is placed more on strategy than resource management, a welcome addition nowadays for war game purists.
The interface is pretty basic RTS fair, grouping of units via hotkeys for easier coordination; birds eye view of the battle and standard mini-map. It gets confusing managing all your different troop types however, especially in the heat of battle, losing small units like snipers and sappers in your armored columns. This problem has existed in other RTS games, for instance D-day’s “cousin” Sudden Strike was notoriously plagued by this problem of masses of units being lost.
There are a wide range of troops from flamethrower units to the standard tanks and artillery. An interesting feature is the commandeering of enemy vehicles and buildings, which is crucial in many instances for survival. However, with the poor path finding AI, horrendous camera control and hard to find units, this usually ends in disaster more times than not. Thankfully, the pause feature can take some pressure off you in hectic times.
Missions are pretty linear in design with focused objectives and paths to certain areas rigged with a host of enemies, and no means to really flank or come up with alternate routes. There are 3 campaigns of 4 mission each
The attention to historic detail is well done and is strengthened by intro cut scenes and graphical displays, charts and the like fleshing out the mission objectives. That’s one thing I always enjoyed about historical games, you get to learn and have a great time (well in this case mediocre time) in an interactive environment. The lessons each of us should take from sacrifices made in World War 2 are truly remarkable, and how the act of war can turn men into savages.
Perhaps the strongest area of the game, the graphics are well done with lots of unit detail and breathtaking atmosphere of war torn Europe. Explosions and vehicle fire are well drawn as well, with plumes of smoke and fire rising from the ravaged battlefield. Dynamic shadows, damage localization and weather effects are also featured in abundance. Specifically with damage localization, you can aim and disable certain enemy vehicles, such as tank treads or gun turret.
However, the animations are jerky at times, especially the articulation of infantry, death animation is lacking at best. The pretty environments also make your system chug along, my 1.53ghz Geforce 4 Ti 4200 128mb had a hard time during the more chaotic scenes.
First, the voice acting really is quite hokey and overdone at times, in both the cutscenes and in-game. Your troops will utter ridiculous cries of death or triumph that just don’t seem to fit into the gritty drama - this isn’t “Hogan’s Heroes.” The sound effects are decent, with your standard explosive sounds and machine gun fire punctuating the battles. The music score is well done, and is energetic, reminding me of some of the pieces used in Band of Brothers.
With the missions being very linear, there isn’t much room for variation, although as RTS goes, each battle can be different. With over 12 missions, it should last a good weekend or two of play, plus you can go back and play with your units in various scenarios apart from the main campaign. Pretty weak overall though.
Online action is available both LAN and Internet through GameSpy, although GameSpy was a ghost town when it came to this game, so don’t look for a lot of online action anytime soon.
With a host of other quality RTS games out there like Codename: Panzers, Total War/ Sudden strike series which offer much more value for your hard earned cash, its best you pass on this game. If you want too truly delve into some WW2 goodness, watch all of Band of Brothers, buy a few WW2 RTS games and subscribe to WW2online. Before long friends and family will refer to you as “Patton.”