The end of spring and the beginning of summer - a period that could not be better suited for the release of various games devoted to the themes of World War II. Here and the Victory Day side by side, and the anniversary of the opening of the "Second Front", which, of course, adds a certain number of potential buyers. No exception, and last May - exactly in the middle of these significant dates Eugen Systems decided to release its next tactical strategy, this time dedicated to the fervent battles of 1944 in Normandy. French developers, like their new publishers in the face of Paradox Interactive , do not need a presentation - the studio is well known for its RTS Wargame series (and some will remember RUSE orAct of War ).
For the game about the Second World War, it is difficult to find a more hackneyed topic than Operation Overlord - the Allies' opening of the "Second Front" in Western Europe. With the easy hands of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks , who heavily fought in the "Saving Private Ryan" and "Brothers in Arms" heavy fights over the Normandy coast, "Day D" was so fond of developers that fighting at the landing zone "Omaha" or storm the coastal town of Saint-Lo was almost in every action movie, dedicated to World War II. However, the strategy also did not lag behind.
The Steel Division is fully dedicated to the battles on the northwest coast of France. Unlike Wargame, where the number of available for wagering nations to the output of the third part has grown to a decent size (if you take into account DLC), then the actors will be much less. It is understandable, given the framework that was set by the choice of the setting. But even here the developers were able to vary the choice a little: if only the German troops are on the Axis side, then the Allies are available not only to the American army, but also to the British, the French, the Canadians and even the Poles.
As in Wargame (from comparisons with previous projects Eugen Systemscan not escape), preparation for battle begins long before the first shots are heard. To begin with, it is necessary to assemble your squad (according to old memory, the word "deck", or deck), which belongs to one or another of the divisions actually fighting in Normandy, is used more often. There are the famous "Screaming Eagles" - the 101st Airborne, there is the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Youth" and many others, right up to exotics like the Poles mentioned already.
"Units", members of the detachment, can belong to only one division. This imposes a certain imprint on the choice of the upcoming strategy in combat - the divisions are airborne, infantry, mechanized and tank. Developers unobtrusively let know that it is necessary to collect highly specialized "decks" - if mechanized and infantry divisions still give some space for a maneuver, then tank and amphibious such flexibility can not afford. Therefore, they play more conveniently in conjunction with other divisions, and the outcome of one-on-one battles will largely depend on whether you are "lucky" with your opponent.
In turn, each detachment is divided into several service arms: reconnaissance, infantry, tanks, support, anti-tank, air defense, artillery and aviation. When drafting a "deck," one should keep in mind one of the important features of the Steel Division : the battle here is divided into three phases - military intelligence, skirmish and battle. The first two last for ten minutes each, and the last goes to the end of the battle. The minute increment of points for which you can call for reinforcements depends on both the division under the player's control and on what phase of the battle is currently taking place. In addition, all combat units are also divided into three subgroups - A, B and C. If the "units" with the A icon can be called at any time (there would be enough points), then reinforcements of type B - starting with the second phase, and C - already during the final stage of the battle.
Finally, reinforcement glasses drip on their own, regardless of whether the player controls a certain terrain or not, - battles for the zones marked in advance by the card-maker, unlike Wargame , will not be here. To win, you need to control most of the entire map, not some abstract areas. All this leads to the fact that the enemy, thrown back to the starting lines, has every chance to turn the course of events in its favor - there would have been time.
During the first fight over the Web, you notice that fighting for key areas of the map, in fact, has not gone away, but now the location of these "special attention zones" is due not to the decision of the developers, but to the tactical situation and the actions of the parties in a particular case. In the past battle, these two houses in the open field have gone unnoticed, and now the whole front line holds them-it was there that the machine-gun crew settled down, keeping enemy infantry out of the guns disguised in the forest near. The broken runway has always been shot through by guns and tanks, but now the enemy was suddenly able to draw significant forces through it, covering himself with a smoke screen ...
You never know what you'll have to fight for this time, winning a comfortable position for defense or attack. A small high-rise or intersection, a primer in the forest or famous French bushes, planted with long lines, - any object can have a major influence on the course of the bout.
All this does not only increase the variety of fights, it also contributes to a greater immersion in the atmosphere of the stubborn June battles of 1944. For lovers to present themselves as one of the commanders of the Allied or Wehrmacht troops, it is undoubtedly much more pleasant to realize that the enemy is unsuccessfully trying to take a small town by storm precisely because. that you decided to make it a strong point, and not because of the desire of the card-maker, who decided that this is the place for the zone that brings victory points.
Another difference from Wargame is the appearance on the map of the front line. The area is divided in two depending on the location of your and enemy troops. If you control most of the card, then you win points, otherwise the enemy adds up the score. But this is not the only one of its purpose. The surrounding infantry unit, which is behind the front line, can make "Hitler kaput!" And be captured as a whole, if there is an efficient detachment of the enemy nearby. However, the presence of commander's "units" nearby does not allow for surrender, but the latter are usually not as many as we would like.
It's nice that now it's easy to understand where the enemy is - even if you do not see the enemy directly, the curve of the front line transparently hints at the fact that there's someone right here. Not without exception - units related to intelligence can safely be in the rear of the enemy, remaining unnoticed and without affecting the ill-fated curve that divides the map into two parts.
It is worthwhile to understand that Steel Division is focused primarily on multiplayer. No, there are single campaigns in the amount of three pieces, but they are needed no more than for a quiet entry into the game of beginners and quite different from the online battles. In the missions of the campaign tasks are usually thrown up during the battle, there is the possibility to slow down the time (which is very useful for beginners), but in the multiplayer the player is immediately thrown into the fight, giving only a couple of minutes to arrange the "units" and ponder tactics.
The scale of battles for every taste - from fast battles one on one to an epic ten to ten. However, this we have already seen in Wargame, and these inveterate strategists familiar with the series, just do not be surprised. Thanks to the division into phases, the gameplay has become somewhat unpredictable: for example, playing for an infantry division against a tank division, you can literally throw your opponent a cheap "meat" in the opening, but if he stays to the third phase, where his main trump card - heavy tanks, "Zergrach" is definitely not going to be right. Such a sharp change in the situation, the transition from attack to defense - a common thing, given the variety of "decks" and the possibilities of their use.
The scourge of all such strategies is that excessive microcontrolling in the Steel Division is also present. Having taken a great interest in strategic planning, it is easy to miss some lonely tank that has broken through to artillery positions, or raids of enemy aviation. On the other hand, to pay attention to each "unit" separately will not work either - you have to sacrifice something. If Eugen Systems wanted to find a middle ground, then it did not work out yet: battles, especially at first, exhausted in earnest.
It exacerbates the situation and is far from the friendliest interface. With various kinds of alerts, it's very unfortunate: they seem to exist, but they are made extremely stupid. For example, to understand that you have destroyed an important "unit", you can only accidentally. We can only hope for our own memory. What this leads to in major battles, it is understandable without superfluous words: the head swells including from constant attempts to keep in my head information like "I just sent here a couple of guns? If so, where are they? Someone destroyed? How?". While you deal with these ill-fated cannons, the enemy is already breaking through on the other flank. And pause, unlike a single game, you can not turn it on.
It is clear that these inconveniences seem ridiculous to the veterans of the series, but if you are new to such strategies, then it will be difficult to fight with a living enemy. Admire the colorful landscapes of Normandy almost no time, although, if you look closely, these beauties are not as impressive as in the times of the European Escalation. The IRISZOOM engine still allows one movement to descend from heaven to earth, switching from a review of the entire map to the view of the surface itself, but what looked worthy of looking five years ago is hardly anyone's surprise now.
Do not help inexperienced commanders and technical problems, without which there also could not have been. Constant desynchronization, sudden disconnections of players during the battle (which clearly affects its outcome), very annoying sound problems ... It is to be hoped that these are typical "childhood illnesses" of a fresh release that will be promptly cured. Even the presence of a small but loyal cohort of fans does not justify the hackneyed attitude to some details of the development. The human interface in the series is waiting for its time to this day - and not the fact that it will rain.