Codename Panzers: Cold War
2nd Feb 2008 | 10:00
To date Codename Panzers series developer Stormregion has offered a solid RTS experience with its PC games that have stomped around the well-trodden World War II battlefield.
For its next title, it decided to steer away from D-Day and the Fall of Berlin and skip ahead a few years into the Cold War era.
So as not to confuse anyone about the game's new subject matter, it called it Codename Panzers: Cold War.
Previously Stormregion's told us it's introducing "as many new improvements as we could come up with". That was back in March 2007, but a couple of days ago David Huggele, QA lead tester at Cold War publisher 10Tacle Studios, breezed into town so we tapped him up to find out more...
(Don't forget to check out the 60 seconds of gameplay footage we've captured, on this page. Please be aware though that the footage is taken from the latest preview build and not the final product).
So how does Cold War tie in with the previous Codename Panzers games?
David Huggele: It's the Cold War, so World War II is over. You'll see some of the heroes from the former games appear. The story pretty much comes down to an airplane crash over Berlin, and it's a Russian fighter and an American supply plane. This is what sparks the war.
The Soviets invade Berlin, and you play on the NATO side and then on the Soviet side later on in the campaign. There's one big campaign with 18 missions - it's a campaign without any breaks in between.
Is it all large-scale battles, or is it a mixture of that and skirmish warfare?
Pretty much both. It depends on the mission. You'll have some big battles and kind of stealthy missions. Stormregion's tried to always present players with an additional way of solving objectives.
For example in mission three, you can research an amphibious upgrade for your APCs and then use that to traverse a river and attack a fortress from behind instead of going on a frontal assault through a mine field.
It's running on the developer's new Gepard 3 engine, isn't it. What are some of the new features that's introducing?
Huggele: Stormregion's completely built the new engine from scratch. Weather effects, for example, are a new addition to the engine and play a role in gameplay. In heavy rain, the water splashes of the ground and there's real-time reflections on objects.
And the sun's a moving light source, and when the sun's shinning on a point it'll illuminate the object and the object will reflect all the illuminations. You can see all the shadows moving. There's even shadows cast by smoke and fire.
When you play during rain or nightfall, your vision range gets decreased and your vehicles will move slower - but infantry will be fine. Additionally, during night time the hearing range will increase - there's hearing range in the game - because units have to rely more on this; their hearing range increases during night while they can see less.
We've seen a demo where a crane collapses in different directions depending on where it's been struck by a missile...
Huggele: The physics engine is another cool aspect of the technology. The doctrine of Stormregion is to give the player the option to either use an object or destroy it if they interact with it. They've tried to make as many objects as possible breakable.
The physics engine works in such a way that, if you destroy something multiple times, it'll never be destroyed in the same way.
Obviously it's a fictional scenario but set in the real world. Is there any accurate representation of real environments of the period in maps?
On the tactical map you can see how Stormregion took pictures and maps and reconstructed how things would look like. And it did that for most of the missions, so most of the missions have a realistic look and setting - although it sometimes changed things for the sake of gameplay - but most of it is actually pretty realistic.
Are infantry individual units, or are they selected in squads in Company of Heroes style?
Huggele: Infantry is squad-based, so you'll always have squads containing up to five units. The way it works in Panzers is you select a type of infantry squad - for example a machine gun squad - and assign an officer to the squad.
Depending on what officer you pick, you get different skills for your squad. For example, the Ranger officer can build a fox hole which is good for defence. You can have combinations of flame throwers, machine gunners, bazookas, mortars, and just assign them different leaders.
Base building - yes or no?
Huggele: There's no base-building. So you have to have a way to call in reinforcements. This works via a helipad, harbour or train station - if you capture those buildings you can bring in fresh units. There's usually one of these capture points per mission, but sometimes more.
Prestige is the only resource in the game, and everything you buy is paid for with Prestige, as is upgrade research. You can get Prestige in various ways. For example, the most common way of getting Prestige is by destroying enemy units, by fulfilling mission objectives and you can also get Prestige per second if you capture various buildings (or Prestige flags), strategical positions on a map.
We also have Points of Interest, buildings the player can use. You can build units that you could not buy otherwise, like Russian units. There's a radio station that lets you call in paratroopers. There's a radar station that reveals units on the minimap and several others. But the most important ones are like the helipad and buildings that give Prestige.
What about multiplayer?
Huggele: Multiplayer is for up to eight players and there are various game modes. For example, Domination is where you have one huge Deathmatch and you can capture buildings and factories to build new units, radar stations and so on. There's also Team Deathmatch, and that's simply Deathmatch without the ability to build new units.
Finally, aren't there any nukes?
Huggele: There's a nuclear strike in multiplayer - and chemical weapons - and they're really wicked... really evil.
Codename Panzers: Cold War is due to release on PC at the end of March.