WWII Online: Blitzkrieg
Reviewed by Edward Baker, Fri., Sept. 28, 2001
WWII Online: BlitzkriegStrategy First/Cornered Rat/Playnet.com
First thing you should know about this game is it just may be the shape of things to come in the gaming world, so whether you buy it or not, or play it or not, or like it or not, you need to hear about it. WWII Online: Blitzkrieg is advertised as the first "massively multiplayer first-person 3D shooter," and whether that's true or not, it's a breakthrough game indeed, although that doesn't mean it's necessarily all that good.
The concept is simple: Europe is modeled half-scale; you warp in as a Nazi, British, or French soldier, tanker, truck driver, or anti-tank gunner, just behind the front lines, and meet up with and duke it out with your online 3D buddies (or strangers, for those of you without friends) for control of Western Europe. Apparently, the "Blitzkrieg" package will be followed by many packaged additions, with later issues adding new theatres and later dates as the sequence of the war progresses.
The 3D renderings of the towns, canals, and waterways of France and the Low Countries are indeed awesome, and awesomely huge, and great fun to look at as you truck along in your half-track, perhaps one of dozens nearby, each full of your über-man colleagues chatting along, exchanging war stories, black humor, and grim glances. Unfortunately, the hugeness and level of detail in the game detracts significantly from the gameplay -- especially if and when you ever get to the front. Even on the fastest, newest computers, there are real problems with things like stop-motion frame rates, levitating tanks, and vanishing ghost warriors.
Don't even try this game if you don't have a high-speed modem and loads of video memory. If you buy it, beware, as the game is so full of the above-mentioned bugs that several de-bug patches, some pretty huge, are necessary before you can even play the game. There will probably be many more patches. But that's OK, as the future of this game -- and a great many others, I imagine -- will be an intricate give-and-take affair between your computer and an online server, and WWII Online is an amazing and realistic step forward. Just don't call me when it don't install; reboot and try again, jawohl.