Moscow to Berlin Review (PC)

German and Russian forces clash in this WWII strategy game. We can expect to lead the initial Nazi invasion and then take command of the Red war machine as the Soviets desperately fight back.

Tanks can be set alight to kill its crew Levelling Brest real-estate

First thing is that I want to acknowledge how good an engine this game has, with all the nice explosions, fires, smoking craters or gun barrels everything seems to run just fine. With all the settings on high for the full experience I didnít have any trouble, though on closer inspection of units itís not entirely surprising. Zooming in will find a pretty bland detail but from afar, where most will lead the battle anyway, itís no big let down.

I initially thought this would be nothing more than just another WWII out there, with a developer looking to plunder what riches (if any) still remain from this era for the RTS genre. With so many out there itís hard to get noticed unless you offer something so unique or quirky. That forethought aside, I found Moscow to Berlin to be defying my gaming prejudice a little.

Given the array of actual armoured vehicles and tanks used by the Germans and the Soviet Union its obvious thereís quite the selection here. This extends to weaponry also so if youíve got some nasty enemies in a trench then burn them out with some flamethrowers.

Tanks or any armoured unit with a weapon is deadly against all infantry and they wonít survive long without cover. Of course deploying some bazooka personnel about the place can fix that. Medics and repair vehicles can be a crucial addition to ones squad. If they are set to move freely they will automatically heal and repair around them.

Infantry units come with the ability to go prone (crawl) as well as dig themselves into a trench line for critical defence. All units have two dials above their general commands, one which determines their move status such as hold position or move freely. The other is their firing orders, hold, return or fire at will. These controls are presented easily with the rest of the GUI following suit.

A nice touch is the vehicles themselves, so many other RTS titles tend to overlook their logistics for easier and faster action for the player. Each tank etc must be manned in order to operate at all, and an unoccupied vehicle is fair game. There are considerable rewards to the player for deploying a full crew, such as an extended visual range or better damage dealt bonus.

The tutorial gave me mixed feelings; on the one hand it was informative but it also tended to saturate me with a constant flow of information. Some text that carried no audio voice over even demanded near super human reading ability before it vanished. Overall it lets you mess with the mechanics of the game in a non-threatening environment.

Charging a bunker Tutorial troop inspection

Sounds are spot on from Nazi infantry speaking in German to the boom of artillery and tank fire. While it doesnít exactly immerse you into the battlefield as weíd probably like, the audio options do support the latest sound configurations like EAX4 for example.

So the first mission sees the German invasion of Brest and we need to capture several bridges vital to the thrust into Russia. Starting with a considerable force of both armoured vehicles and infantry, the only thing that could stand against you would be concentrated insurgents. Well one method to flush out the enemy is simple, level Brest! You can order your units to open fire on the buildings around you which will see them crumble and fall.

Watching an entire city crack and left with nothing but knee high rumble is quite effective and gives you that extra bad boy feel. Each unit when highlighted has a radius; some even carry three which represent the ranges of certain abilities. Sight being the largest which is sometimes accompanied by the weapon range, though most tanks can fire beyond their sight you canít witness enemy positions, only static objects.

At your disposal at times youíll also be able to use air recon, which is pretty self explanatory. A plane soars overhead and uncovers a targeted area, after you could call an air strike or maybe an artillery barrage.† Vehicles themselves can be disabled, should a tanks caterpillars be disabled then is cannot move but can still pack a punch. So if the turret is down, then it can still blaze about the field.

Another nifty AI feature is retreat, if infantry are hopelessly firing against a target they have no real chance of defeating they will fall back and try to escape itís field of vision. Going even further is a surrender chance, so if those same guys keep retreating and canít stand the peril any longer they could very well raise their arms and walk off the battlefield. Naturally there is a danger this could happen to your own troops so always plan with infantry moral in mind.

Buildings collapse with some realism An Officer (you) arriving for training

In the end I found Moscow to Berlin to be an entertaining addition, with a great game engine. Sadly I canít see it breaking out and drawing a huge following simply because the WWII RTS genre has been done to death. As a real-time strategy gamer myself I am pretty sick of seeing cloned titles from that era and being told that ďthis oneĒ is a huge difference from the last.

Top Game Moment:
Levelling the entire infrastructure of Brest and then rolling my German legion across the debris.