I reviewed Unity of Command II a pair years again and, just a few quibbles apart, discovered it to be one of the vital fascinating and revolutionary turn-based ways video games I had ever performed. It’s now again with a significant enlargement, and people quibbles are within the firing line.
For those who’re simply becoming a member of us for Unity of Command discuss, it’s a turn-based sport within the vein of classics like Panzer Normal (or its successor Panzer Corps), solely with some very cool concepts on learn how to make issues much more involving than merely transferring items round a battlefield.
UNITY OF COMMAND II: THE KOTAKU REVIEW
Right here’s my overview of the bottom sport, launched in 2019, which I stated was “such a pure and satisfying expression of turn-based ways.”
Learn the overview right here
It does this by turning cowl right into a puzzle, forcing you to make use of what are primarily particular powers to dislodge the enemy from cities and tough terrain, and by constructing the complete expertise round strains of provide, forcing you to fret as a lot about protecting your tanks fuelled as the place the enemy is.
As nice as the sport was, an issue that arose for me after repeated play—repeated sufficient that this solely actually emerged for me after my overview was already finished—was that the steadiness between these puzzle-like components and extra sweeping tactical manoeuvres was a bit of too lopsided, one thing that carried via to the sport’s first two expansions as effectively.
Making an attempt to interrupt a metropolis open utilizing suppression and flanking was a enjoyable problem, however it was additionally pretty easy, and due to the sport’s mission design was taking on far an excessive amount of of my time once I might have been doing stuff that was even extra enjoyable, like sending my tanks on large runs that would encircle and minimize off enemy items from their provide strains, all of the whereas juggling my very own more and more perilous logistics.
Unity of Command II’s Barbarossa enlargement fixes a lot of that just by advantage of its setting. Shifting its focus away from the mountains of Italy and the dense bocage of Normandy, it places you answerable for German forces throughout the early phases of their warfare in opposition to the Soviet Union, which suggests plenty of large strikes on even greater maps.
Right here, the combination of map and mission kinds is nearly good. There are a great deal of huge flanking strikes and penetrating spearheads on provide as you overrun the Russian’s preliminary positions, and simply to combine issues up, these are punctuated by smaller, puzzle-like maps primarily based particularly round sieges or tough terrain. The easiest missions, although, will mix the 2, with large tank battles resulting in a conclusion primarily based round capturing cities surrounded by rivers and/or fortifications, nearly like a boss battle.
Unity of Command II is at its highest when it’s actually pushing its central logistical mechanic, asking you to juggle speedy armoured advances with the necessity to preserve your items provided, all the time pondering 1-2 turns forward since transferring your provide strains round all the time takes that lengthy to catch up. And it’s as if this marketing campaign, greater than its earlier efforts, is the setting the sport was born for, as Barbarossa is targeted so closely on big maps and precarious strains of provide, actually enjoying to the strengths of the sport’s tackle this sort of ways.
This rigidity could make the marketing campaign exhausting—in locations too exhausting—however in a approach that I actually like as effectively, as a result of it lends the sport a stunning quantity of historic worth. It’s very simple to think about the Second World Warfare as a collection of guide chapters, with 1941 a yr of unchecked German victory culminating in Barbarossa, whose preliminary breakthroughs have lengthy been seen as a surprising success, with the Nazi’s undoing not coming till Stalingrad a yr later.
That long-held view has been challenged not too long ago, although, with the very convincing argument—one you’ll be able to take a look at from a wonderful BBC Historical past Further podcast with historian Jonathan Dimbleby—that Barbarossa was in actual fact an absolute shambles, and the German’s bumbling overreach means that they had decisively misplaced any probability of profitable the warfare as early as August 1941.
Barbarossa has you enjoying out that bumbling. Whereas the marketing campaign is based on a collection of continuous victories, the sport turns into exhausting after some time, because the huge distances concerned and the attrition your forces expertise begins to grind down your offensive the nearer you get to Moscow. Traditionally, that is put all the way down to “over-extended strains of provide”, which is such an summary and bland time period as to nearly imply nothing to most individuals studying about it 80 years later.
It means all the things on this marketing campaign, although, since you’re residing via the direct results of what that really means. You’re all the time transferring forwards in opposition to forces weaker than your individual, your armies are frequently stretched skinny, all the time operating out of gasoline and ammo, your headquarters items—very important to permitting you to unlock particular and crucial “powers” like assault river crossings—hardly ever capable of catch as much as the advances of your panzers.
It’s a unbelievable problem to your tactical skills, but additionally a beautiful illustration of the particular historic marketing campaign, as regardless of the very fact you retain profitable, the additional you go the extra you realise “oh shit what have we bought ourselves into right here these Russians simply preserve coming and I’m all out of beans and I don’t know the place the infantry unit to my left even is anymore”.
Which, , I wish to assume is one thing von Rundstedt muttered to himself in some unspecified time in the future round Christmas 1941, so to be put in the identical state of affairs in a technique online game is fairly cool.
The Barbarossa enlargement is out now and out there on Steam.