It’s been nearly a decade since the original Panzer Corps graced our monitors. Let’s see if the sequel was worth the wait.
The first thing you’ll notice is just how clean it looks. The main view resembles high altitude reconnaissance photographs, while the top down transitions to a paper look tactical map. As you can see from the screenshot, individual units look crisp and fit in well with the terrain, but it can be tricky to spot the differences at a glance. Even the UI itself is tidy and clear, although I did note some minor localisation issues in my version. The worst instance of this was the tooltip for embarking a unit at a dock or train station where it shows the text for disbanding. I did not want to click that button.
Hovering over a tile gives you detailed information about the terrain or unit and I appreciated not needing to click every time. The same also applies to movement and attack. Once your unit is selected, mousing over a tile will show you what you can attack from that position and the probable result of any combat, all without moving there first.
Should you make a mistake, Panzer Corps 2 comes complete with an undo button above the minimap. You can use it to rewind to before a disastrous tactical blunder, but I found it most useful to reset after a misclick. This is something I really love and takes the aggravation out of the little mishaps.
When you begin a new campaign you choose your general and get two points to spend on their traits. You can go for two strengths, two weaknesses, one of each, or a single more dramatic choice. I chose tank movement and auxiliary bonuses, and I’d consider them fairly balanced. Each new mission grants a hero that can be assigned to any core unit and grant a minor trait to whichever troops fight with him.
Missions begin with a deployment phase which gives you the chance to organise what you’ll be fielding. Most scenarios come with “auxiliary” units that spawn in addition to the “core” army you bring with you from mission to mission. These are expendable in a way your experienced units aren’t. During this period you also gain the ability to replace previous losses at the cost of prestige, the games currency, and you can do this with cheap green recruits or pay a premium to maintain the unit’s full experience. This can be done during the game but any reinforcements cost more and take a turn before they are able to fight. Core troops can also be upgraded into specialty roles, given transport trucks, or even granted a strength bonus at the cost of taking up more of the force limit.
Objectives come in two varieties, victory hexes marked with a solid outline that must be secured to win, and secondary hexes with the dashed border that grant a per turn income. The half circles show a deployment zone and capturing one will prevent enemy reinforcements arriving, while letting you bring in your own. To keep things moving, each game has a turn limit, forcing momentum and leading to some hard choices. You can get bonuses for finishing early, but maybe not enough to justify throwing your men into the meat grinder. If that isn’t your cup of tea, turn limits can be disabled before you start the game. Personally I enjoy the tension that comes as the turns tick up, knowing that I have no choice but to attack with everything I’ve got. Be warned, it can make a defeat feel hollow if you only needed an extra turn to take that final objective. I speak from experience…
At the end of the mission you’re treated to a breakdown of how your troops fought and any experience gains they made. From here there’s also the option to review the battlefield if you’d like to indulge yourself with a victory tour, or perhaps work out where you went wrong. As you can see from the results, bombers dominate the field but they don’t come without a downside, a rainy day grounds all aircraft and can put a serious crimp in a perfect plan.
I’d recommend giving the tactical puzzles a go before you begin a campaign, they’re fun challenges giving you a specific task and only take a single turn to achieve them. To me they really highlight the tactical diversity of Panzer Corps 2, a game where order of movement and positioning can turn a certain defeat into a grand triumph. If you love manoeuvring to cut off an enemy and softening them up with artillery or a strafing run then you’ll enjoy the intense small scale actions you’ll find in every mission.
PANZER CORPS 2 VERDICT
A fantastic tactical challenge in every box.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Taking the final victory hex in the final turn, despite the horrific losses.
Clean visuals, a rarity for the genre
The information you need to know is clearly displayed
Wide range of historically accurate units
Brilliant tactical combat not reliant on RNG
A campaign where your troops matter and losses hurt
That glorious undo button
The localisation to English wasn't the best, but nothing that hurt my enjoyment
Only the German campaign available at release
About Matthew Ralphson
Matthew cut his teeth on Age of Empires and never looked back. He misses the times when games still came in boxes...