|Dev: The Lordz Game Studio|
|Release: July 11, 2011|
|Players: 1-2 (hotseat)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Especially interesting is the almost RPG-like progression of your units through time. Whether you win or lose, your soldiers—the ones who survive, at least—get better. Later in the game, highly evolved units are a very valuable thing, and you have to go to great lengths to protect them. You can always buy new units by spending your prestige points, but there's really no substitute for units that have improved their skills over the course of many battles.
The basic gameplay is almost perfectly polished. However, strategy games have moved on in a number of ways since the Panzer General series was at its peak, and Panzer Corps doesn't make much of an effort to incorporate these new developments. The graphics are the most strikingly deficient aspect, with bland terrain and little in the way of detail. It's a shame, because modernized visuals would have helped with the sense of immersion. Oddly, there's a fire effect that's somewhat realistic, which clashes with the background whenever you hammer an enemy unit, as if you held a lit match in front of a crayon drawing. Other aspects of the presentation aren't so much dated as they are blasé: The music and sound effects are fine, but not outstanding, and the occasional voice acting leaves much to be desired.
Another bizarre throwback is the online multiplayer, which is play-by-e-mail, as if the last decade never happened. PBEM certainly has its advantages—you don't have to be online at the same time as your opponent, for example. But it's bizarre that you don't even have the option to play a standard multiplayer game online, in real time, with each move taking place right after the previous one. The one saving grace is that if you have another strategy fan in the house, you can play local hotseat multiplayer.
Of course, the bottom-line question is, "Is it worth it?" At a price point of $20 or less, I would say go for it. It's a lot more enjoyable than most of the games in that price range, and it's a nice trip down memory lane. However, the download is priced at twice that, and the boxed version is $50, the same as big-budget strategy games like Total War: Shogun 2. I realize that the developer and publisher are small-time operations and don't have the economies of scale that huge companies have, but $40–50 is definitely too much. Unless you're a huge Panzer General fan who can't wait to try out its spiritual successor, I'd wait until the price comes down.
That said, Panzer Corps manages to resurrect an old, nearly forgotten series, and it will give you hours of entertainment before it gets old. It is a testament to the original game that more than 15 years after its debut, the Panzer General formula is still a recipe for magic.
CCC Contributing Writer