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Game Info:

Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943
Developed By: Graviteam
Published By: Paradox Plaza
Release date: February 25th 2010
Genre: War Strategy
Available on PC
Single Player
Price: $19.95

Thank you GamersGate for supplying us with a review copy of this game!

Imagine yourself as an army commanding officer back in 1943, in the middle of World War II. This is the battle for Kharkov and you can command the destiny of USSR or Germany. At your disposal are eighty seven unit types including soldiers, vehicles, tanks, and airplanes. The land is a vast thirty six kilometers and is fully destructible. The damage you do will still be there in later missions. Not all of the land is vehicle and infantry friendly, so keep that in mind when deploying your units.

Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943 (APK1943) is a single player game, but there is a lot of replay value. The engine supports modifications and the battles are all dynamic thanks to the superior artificial intelligence. There are six missions and each mission has two modes. The missions start off in an operational strategy mode where you take a turn and wait for the enemy’s response. The look and feel of this mode is like a war room cork board with various symbols representing your platoons, enemy platoons, hotspots, and so on. In this mode you can repair, refuel, and replace your forces.

Highlights:

Strengths: Great AI, historically accurate turn based and real time strategy game
Weaknesses: Steep learning curve and no tutorials, make sure you download and read the manual
Moral Warnings: This is a war game, blood and corpses will be on the ground

Once you’re happy with your army’s position it’s time to deploy and begin the battle. The 3D battle portion of the game is in real time. Your main objective is to capture and hold key points and to own as much enemy territory as possible. The more flags under your possession brings you more victory points in the end.

There are lots of options and the learning curve is a bit steep on this game. There is no tutorial and reading the manual is a MUST if you want to have the slightest clue to what you are doing. When I first launched the game I clicked the buttons that were flashing and sent units to the enemy and surprisingly, I actually won the battle without having a clue as to what I was doing. I didn’t have such luck on the second mission.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score: 66%

Game Play: 15/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Stability: 5/5
Controls/Interface: 3/5

Appropriateness: 91%

Violence: 4.5/10
Sexuality: 10/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
Language: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

The mouse is used for selecting and ordering your units around. Left click will select them and you will have various buttons with options such as move, attack, defend, mount, set target, specify fire arc, and more. Right click will carry out the order. You can have your army move quickly or at a slower, stealthier pace. Even though this is real time strategy, you can pause, or make the time go faster.

There’s a lot to the game interface and many buttons and symbols to figure out. The units will actually fight for themselves and have their own reactions depending on their experience and morale. If they are getting beaten they will panic and will drop morale if their commander is killed.

Graphically this game looks decent; I wasn’t blown away by the game world. The explosions, tanks and military units look good. The interface is a bit rough around the edges and the colors are dull, but then again this isn’t a cheerful game. The physics are really good; you can specify the firing arc to offset the whole gravity nuisance.

The sound is a mixed bag. In the fighting mode you’ll hear vehicle noises, ambient dog barks, and gun fire. The background music isn’t really fitting in my opinion. When I’m getting shot at, I don’t think upbeat dance music will be in my head.

APK1943 is a realistic game. When a soldier is shot at, there will be a blood puddle and a corpse is left behind. This is a war game after all. The blood puddle disappears but the corpses remain. You have to be zoomed in all the way to see anything.

With the steep learning curve and realism this game will definitely not be for everyone. I recommend it for those who like real war games and in depth strategy titles. History buffs will appreciate the vehicle and tank encyclopedia. For those who like this style of game, you’ll find lots of replay value and plenty of battle action coming your way. Be sure to check out the demo to make sure this game is up your alley first.

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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