Achtung Panzer: Operation Star - Best tactical WWII game since Combat Mission 2?

After reading the glowing writeup about this game on RPS I decided to pick it up:

And, I’m pretty much agreeing with everything written here. I’m having an extremely good time with the game.

What sets this game apart from Combat Mission are two things:

Mainly, the strategic layer. The meta game plays out on a strategic map, where you position your companies to attack each other, then resolve the combat on a tactical scale. This adds immensely to the overall game, as every bullet and casualty taken counts in the grand scheme of things.

The second difference is that this game models ballistics and positioning much better. It’s 1:1 on the map. A bullet might ricochet off a fence slat. And there is fantastic destructibility with full physics. Buildings collapse, trees get pushed over by armor. And, there is full terrain deformation. From a small AP round making a small indentation to big nasty craters created from HE arty rounds, it’s all modeled. And all taken into account for line of sight and ballistics.

There are also crazy emergent scenarios I’ve seen while playing. I was advancing up a steep snowy hill with 4 Russian half tracks. A German halftrack crested the hill right above me, and we lit it up pretty harshly. A bunch of guys jumped out of it, but the driver go shot and was slumped dead over the steering wheel. The halftrack continued to drive faster and faster down the hill, secondary explosions going off. It eventually hit the woodline at the bottom of the hill and knocked over about 6 trees before finally hitting a rock and stopping. It continued to have a few more secondary explosions until finally just burning. Not only was this aesthetically awesome, but the game also has excellent directional sound. So, as I’m creeping back up the hill, trying to get a peek over it, I’m constantly jumping in my seat as I hear a loud explosion behind me, thinking it’s enemy fire. But it’s just the destroyed half-track’s secondaries.

The game is full of moments like this. I can’t recommend it enough to fans of the genre.

I’ll repeat my request from the RPS comments: if someone truly loves this game and wants it to succeed, please make a series of YouTube videos with commentary so I can figure out why the hell I should care. I can’t get beyond the first few minutes to turn that corner.

I’ve been thinking of picking this up. I grabbed the first AP last year on an Amazon sale and thought it was really good. I remember night attacks being really tense and fun and like you said the emergent side of the game gets very interesting.

As a side note, the demo for the new Combat Mission did nothing for me at all. I haven’t been a huge fan of that franchise. I loved Beyond Overlord but didn’t really play any of the others. It just felt really dated.

Here’s an extremely detailed AAR from the original Achtung Panzer:

I’ll very probably get the game, but I have to ask, can you replay battles like in CM? I don’t remember being able to do that in the original Achtung Panzer, but moments like that are much more awesome if you can view them from different angles, which I loved about CM.

I’m not talking about a we-go system, just the possibility of re-watching the whole battle.

I’m not sure you can re-watch the battle. I haven’t looked for the option myself, so I can’t comment.

One thing they did add which is really nice is the ability to save mid-mission in the tactical portion. Only one save though, and reloading it will erase it. It just allows you to suspend a battle midway through if you need to.

Is there a way to get a physical copy of this game? Thinking of giving it to my Dad as a Christmas gift but I’m not sure he would do gamersgate (he sort of gets Steam).

Doesn’t seem like it. It’s on Amazon digitally. Does your Dad get Amazon?

Seconded.

Missions start slow, usually. Unless you’re perched right on top of each other it will take a few minutes to get oriented and figure out where the enemy is. Half the battle really is setup, the other half are those agonizing minutes counting down, just waiting, for that tank column to roll into your ambush.

Am I right in thinking that this is an rts where every unit has a billion buttons? How many units are on the field at a time?

Burn it to a cd?

I’m not familiar with gamersgate. Can they be burned and installed later? Amazon might work. Thanks for that tip.

The UI is a bit lacking, but it is serviceable. I think it’s actually a bit better than Combat Mission’s though.

There are generally about 5-15 units on each side per battle. It really depends on what you plan on the strategic map. If you have 3 companies attack three companies, you’re going to get 6-20 units per side.

Basically, the key elements to the interface are right click to move, right click and drag to move and define a facing. Press the “turn” icon and right click to tell a unit to turn in place.

You can also tell a unit to “prefer” targeting various units by pressing the “targeting” icon then left-click-dragging a box over the enemies you want them to prioritize.

It’s not much different than the “Total War” games, actually. Except this game models line of sight and ballistics much more realistically. And, you are given a set amount of units on the strategic map for the entire campaign (and some reinforcements). You can’t build cities or manufacture new units like in Total War.

I think you can use the Gamers Gate downloader and copy all the install files from the directory it downloaded onto a DVD (or memory stick). Achtung Panzer will ask for a key when installing.

I’ve also been able to install this on my work and home PC with the same key, so I’m not sure about how many activations it gives you, or if they are even limited.

Has it been improved over the first one at all? During battle, it often seemed I was fighting the camera as much as the Bolsheviks.

And you mentioned it being on Amazon, but all I see is Kharkov.

I was only able to play the first game for one battle, then something happened with the newer ATI drivers making the game not function correctly. I never bothered to suss out the problem.

The camera controls this time around are WASD scrolls it around the battlefield, mouse wheel zooms in and out and middle mouse held rotates. Pretty much the same as Total War.

Two map modes exist, the 3D battlefield and a top-down 2D map with height lines. I’m not sure if the top-down 2D map existed in the first game. I play mainly in the 3D one, but the 2D map is extremely helpful to plot larger movements and get a big picture awareness.

You can also press “Q” to lock the camera behind a unit, and use either middle mouse hold or WASD to rotate around it. This is very useful for getting an idea of the unit’s line of sight.

There are also two line of sight tools in the game, “~” will turn the cursor into an LOS line, showing green for visible then breaking into red for not visible. Right clicking while in this mode switches from “can see” to “can fire upon”. “CTRL-~” draws solid areas on the map where the unit can see (although this seems to not work very well).

Also, yeah, I guess it’s not on Amazon. Only GamersGate at the moment.

Here’s a great trailer to give you an idea of what the game looks like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01gj87QJwBM

(They even model broken tank treads with full physics simulation)

Cool vid, it looks like tanks actually deform the terrain? I noticed a heavy tank seems to leave an indent (not just a texture) in the terrain it was moving over. Kind of a neat detail, even if the depression probably doesn’t affect the gameplay.

Will this play on an older notebook (Dell XPS M1710, ran Fallout 3 just fine?)

Also, how replayable are the operations? I.e. will the AI have the same units in pretty much the same place the second time you play a scenario?

Here’s a link to an AAR I posted a while back at SimHQ. Not of the latest game, but it shows how gripping the game can be - it’s a winner!

Some guy did two gameplay videos. It’s literally just a night time thing where all you can se is a black sky and some little icons after he spends a few years diddling about in the menu.

Youtube comments actually summed up the situation pretty well. Anyway a vid that gave a quick breakdown of what the hell happens in this game would be nice. Or a demo? Either way.