Panzer Corps comes out on Monday. You might think Panzer Corps is some serious hardcore wargame from Matrix Games. You’d be partly right. It is from Matrix Games. But it’s not serious, hardcore, or a wargame. It’s just an appropriately breezy remake of a 1994 beer-and-pretzels strategy/puzzle game called Panzer General. Which, yeah, was a classic back in the day. But now?
After the jump, why would you ever want to play a remake of a game from 1994?
The first thing I noticed was how easy it is to get back into the routine of scooting the units around and letting the basic numbers do their thing. This infantry can reach here, but it can reach over here in a truck. This tank is low on ammo. The artillery can’t fire from here. This unit will have to be attacked several times. And so on. It’s exactly like getting up on a bicycle after 17 years. Before you know it, you’re hurtling down the street with the wind in your hair and feeling like a kid again.
But as I got up to speed and set about working on the canned puzzle nature of each scenario, I was particularly delighted at three things.
1) The new CTL+click option to call up a detailed breakdown of battle odds. Panzer General/Corps is a puzzle game about piecing together the most efficient solution for any given scenario. It’s always been that way. But look at all the pure math you can wrangle in pursuit of efficiency:
I’m not a math guy, but there’s something so reassuring about seeing all the numbers. The modifiers. The whys and wherefores of who will win and who will lose. I’m okay with randomness. But I’m not okay with opacity. There’s a huge difference and displays like this one in Panzer Corps highlight that difference.
2) After a scenario, you can reinforce/repair, and upgrade your units. Nifty enough. It taps into that attachment you get with persistent units. But you can also buy new units, which taps into whatever hardware nerdom you might have. For instance, I just unlocked this thing:
I have no idea what it is. I’m assuming it’s a recon car that can cross rivers. I want that. I want funky things with six wheels that can cross rivers. I want crazy rocket artillery mounted on an APC chassis. I want flamethrower tanks and experimental jet bombers and Maus tanks alongside the usual PzIVs and infantry. I want to learn words that I’ll never be able to remember how to spell like Nebelwerfer and Falschirmjager.
3) Speaking of hardware nerdom, check this out:
Tell me you didn’t just lean in to get a closer look. Go ahead, try to deny it. A picture like that has gravitational pull. The instant I saw that in the information display for that unit, I was transported back to being a kid building models. I wasn’t a tank guy — I was strictly airplanes — but when you see a tank broken down into its components like that, when you see where the dudes sat and how much room they had and which parts moved and where the fuel lived and where the shells were stacked up, you are transported into that tank.
Here’s another one just because I love those pictures:
Unfortunately, I don’t think there are similar drawings for airplanes.
Panzer Corps is out on Monday for $40. You can check out the official page here.