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For awhile now, S.S.I. has developed many strategy games, and each new title is awaited with anticipation. The tradition continues with "Panzer General" and to this day is, without a doubt, the best wargame produced by S.S.I.
"Panzer General" possesses magnificent graphics, entirely in SVGA, to which we are not accustomed for this type of game. The units are easily recognized thanks to the special attention given to detail, and the strategic maps where the forces advance from are of impeccable quality. The CD-ROM version, of course, brings bonuses like video-footage produced from authentic documents of World War II, and CD quality sound for music and sound effects. In this domain, "Panzer General" offers a wide selection of sound cards during the installation, which, I am convinced, will please a large number of people. In effect, it is difficult for editors today to admit that there exists other sound cards on the market besides the Sound Blaster. Nevertheless, S.S.I. demonstrated its willingness to render its programs available to all sound card owners (no matter what type they owned) by providing well developed sound support. Once more, knowing that many people do not want to buy a game that does not support their sound card, S.S.I. is therefore heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many other big companies (Electronic Arts and MicroProse for example).
Going back to "Panzer General", the game certainly is a surprise for the year end holidays. Not only is the game equipped with great graphics and realistic sounds, it also includes animation during the game. When a unit attacks, two circles appear on the screen showing the units and the landscape, indicating the type of terrain. The explosions are really well reproduced with fire, plumes of smoke and debris flying from tanks and other terrestrial units. This remains true for the air and naval units, because "Panzer General" is far from being considered solely for terrestrial confrontation, it employs all the technology offered by the armies at that time. In all, there are more than 350 different types of armaments which confront each other on the terrain, each nation implicated in a conflict having its own units.
Right from the start the game offers two possibilities. The player can start a campaign as a German general who must prove himself first by seizing Poland in 1939. If victorious, the player can combat on the front of his choice with his victorious armies. Soon, France, Belgium, Norway, North Africa and the Eastern Front will be defeated if the conquering wave continues. This could even reach England and the United States.
The second possibility is to chose a scenario from a series of 40 different ones. Each increasing in difficulty and a wide range of situations, they offer hours of continuous fun.
Of course, we cannot forget to mention that this game plays by turns, which means that once you have finished your displacements and attacks, it becomes the turn of your adversary (the computer in this case). If you find your adversary too weak (even if you chose the hardest level), you can play against another player (a human this time) by intermediary of "play-by-email". At the end of your turn, you simply indicate that you are playing with the play-by-email. With the game saved, all you have left to do is transmit your file by disk, email or by a direct modem link.
Finally, as in most war games, there exists yet other details that we have not discussed. Among them are the fuel and arms supply for your units, men and material replacement, buying new units, weather forecasts and types of terrain. "Panzer General" offers vast possibilities that render the game very attractive.
One last thing, still very original, is the notion of prestige. This, as expected, increases at the same time as your exploits (conquered cities, destruction of enemy units) whereas it decreases when you lose units. It is of great importance because your buying of units, replacements and new equipment for the existing units depend directly on your prestige. You will not be able to carry out an action if the cost of the action is more than your prestige level.
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