WinSPWW2 takes no prisoners in the fight for the ultimate turn-based tactical wargame on your computer. This is the granddaddy—the original–of all the Steel Panthers “super mods”, now brought up to modern computing standards. But it does more than just shed its DOS heritage, it takes the battle to a whole new level.
WinSPWW2 features true combined arms warfare from 1930 through 1946, an era that saw the theories of J.F.C. Fuller and Giulio Douhet put to the test as the world burned. Fully Windows compatible, with all that entails (DirectX or Windows GDI based graphics, full Windows sound and mouse routines, et cetera), WinSPWW2 boasts an impressive array of features that will keep armchair generals fighting until someone has to drag their cold, dead hands off their mouse.
WinSPWW2 is being offered in two versions. The FREE, downloadable version is available right now (http://shrapnelgames.com/SPCamo/wSPWW2/1.htm is)) This is the FULL version of the game, and is not crippleware or shareware. There will also be an ENHANCED CD version of the game, available for purchase.
Steel Panthers was the first computer wargame I ever really played seriously and enjoyed and, while I’ve never been a very serious grognard, without Steel Panthers I never would have bothered with such great games as The Operational Art of War, Combat Mission, etc. I’ll even go so far as to say it seriously impacted my life, since it sparked my interest in history, and that influenced the course of my education.
While I’ve always felt that the “supermods” took the original Steel Panthers a bit too far away from the “beer and pretzels” end of the spectrum, there’s still some great gameplay there. I’m definitely downloading this as soon as I get home.
I find it interesting that the free version tops out at 800 x 600; to get higher resolutions you have to buy the CD version, which unless you 1) are an inveterate scenario creator; 2) have to have a printed manual; or 3), have existing DOS games/scenarios you want to convert, seems otherwise not to offer much.
I guess that’s a good way to encourage purchases. I’m downloading the free version now, but I suspect 8x6 on a 20" LCD is going to look like, well, ass.
It’s kind of complicated. Briefly, they’re divergent offshoots of the original Steel Panthers games. I think the Matrix Games one (SP:WaW) is based off of Steel Panthers 3 and WinSPWWII (by the Camo Group) is based off of Steel Panthers 2.
There’s lots of minor differences that only the craziest of fans would notice, but the big ones are that the AI, the simulation engine (that is, the process that actually figures out stuff like whether a tank shell penetrates armor and such) and generally all the “under-the-hood” type stuff is much better in the Camo group games while the presentation/interface is better in the Matrix version, plus the Matrix versions have the “Mega-Campaigns” available for purchase.
The campaign generation engine is different in both of them too, but which one is better is really a matter of preference. I like the Camo Group one because it feels closest to the original - smaller numbers of units, more focussed battles. The Matrix version tends to subscribe to the theory that “bigger is better” but that isn’t my cuppa. I also don’t think the Mega-Campaigns are really worth the money.
But, as both the Camo version and the Matrix one are available free, who needs to choose? :-)