In June last year we saw the celebrations in France of the 60th Anniversary of the Normandy landings.
On the 6th June 1944 - D-Day - Allied forces landed on the beaches of Northern France and began the campaign to liberate the country, and ultimately defeat the Nazis.
Considering the timing, it was appropriate for Digital Jesters to release a game based on the events just a couple of months after the anniversary, but just hold good is this tribute?
The D-Day game by Digital Reality shares the same engine has the developer's other RTS title of last year, Desert Rats vs Afrika Korps, which means it's able to offer some great graphical effects, plenty of detail, and overall it works well.
However, unlike their previous title, the textures here look rather bland, and despite the opportunity for some great scenes (with urban areas containing brick, concrete, grass, etc. compared to the desert of before), it feels rather missed, and actually worse than before.
The comparisons to DRvAK can't be avoided; both games are by the same developer, using the game engine, set in the same war, and released just a few months apart.
From the very conception the scope of the game is narrowed on two fronts; firstly the D-Day landings - although very important in the way - constitute a very narrow period of time, unlike the multiple years of the Desert Campaign in North Africa.
This means that, although quite a bit did happen in the few days that the game features (some leading up to the day, some on 6th June itself, and some following the invasion), it simply isn't the range of conflicts that provided the enjoyable variety in DRvAK that D-Day most definitely lacks.
The other immediate issue is the inability to control either side of the conflict which featured in the other game.
I would guess the fact that the Allies ultimately succeed and push through the Axis forces in France made this difficult, but this ability was a great feature of DRvAK, as it really showed that the one wasn't just about the Allies (like some Hollywood films would have you believe), and that there really was a lot going on from the other point of view of the war.
The game, thus, seems to turn itself into some sort of patriotic rampage, as if trying to boast morale about the victories in June 1944.
At the same time, the game fails to provide the inspiration such a decision made it clear that the developers wanted to achieve; the game's linking cutscenes don't inspire very much, and the use of stock war footage often feels unneeded.
Overall the game features 12 missions, split across 3 chapters - in other words, not a lot to keep you occupied.
That narrowing of scope mentioned earlier has obviously shone through, and leaves you with an unsatisfying short campaign.
The longetivity is boosted somewhat by the multiplayer, with LAN or online options.
Here there has been an improvement over DRvAK, with 8 players able to take to the arena instead of 4, but despite the GameSpy support, there is unlikely to be that much competition to play online with.
And if you want something else to do, you could always check out the Map Editor.
There is one last interesting thing which is carried over from DRvAK; the lack of resource management.
However, the novelty of this feature is beginning to wear off - it has been cropping up in a few RTS titles recently, and is simply being reused here from its predecessor.
Although it still has the emphasis on troop management instead of resources, the fact that the game doesn't capture the spirit of the war like DRvAK - for reasons mentioned above - it means you aren't as bothered about the survival of your troops - even when they get mowed down by some impossible-to-reach machine-gunners.
A pity, because this system worked so well before.
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