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Submitted by Chris Leyton on July 2 2004 - 00:00

Commandos meets Cannon Fodder in this enjoyable action/strategy title from Codemasters...

Soldiers: Heroes of World War II has been a highly sought after title within the relatively stale state of the PC gaming market; with the prospect of â??Commandos meets Cannon Fodderâ? surely enough to entice a legion of ageing gamers.

Much like the Commandos series from Pyro Studios, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II pits you against the odds, as you take a small team on a variety of death-defying missions that will ultimately shape the outcome of the war.

The game can be played much like the aforementioned title, clicking on waypoints, using the environment to your advantage and building up attacks; however Soldiers: Heroes of World War II blends up the mix by adding a significant action aspect to the experience.

Players can take direct control of their troops simply by holding down the control button; itâ??s quite surprising just how much this affects the overall balance of the game, particularly when youâ??re commandeering the various vehicles on offer. Yes thatâ??s right you can expect to get your hands on a huge selection of accurate WWII vehicles, ranging from trucks to tanks, planes to APCâ??s.

Whilst weâ??d like to have seen some closer camera angles for when players take â??Direct Controlâ?? to heighten the atmosphere, thereâ??s no denying that the blend of both action and tactics creates a refreshingly different experience to the deluge of World War inspired tactical that are currently flooding the market.

That said the game is still very much about strategy and tactics, and as such youâ??ll still find the frustration level creeping up, although the game features far more diversity then the Commandos series from Pyro Studios. There are numerous different possibilities to completing missions within Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, so as such itâ??s not all about finding the correct strategy through a combination of blind luck and trial-and-error.

As with titles such as Commandos thereâ??s a nice degree of depth to the proceedings; youâ??ll find yourself having to worry about such things as fuel for your vehicles, however thereâ??s always the options of siphoning some from the nearest enemy tank.

Particularly the game features a nice use of technology, the various highly detailed environments that youâ??ll come across feature a superb level of damage and interaction, which certainly adds to the game and affects your tactics; whilst the sheer number of vehicles available provides some respite from the heavily tactical orientated gameplay â?“ taking a tank for a spin in this type of game doesnâ??t initially feel right, however it sure is fun. In addition the AI does a good job of creating a believable experience, it doesnâ??t feel scripted and helps to ensure that every time you play the game youâ??ll comes across a different set of challenges to the ones you had before.

Visually the game is a masterpiece with some superbly detailed environments, whilst the level of interaction particularly from the damage models is impressive. Special note must go to the huge number of animations and little details that Best Way have created; idle soldiers light up cigarettes, grenades within a building will send its occupants flying through the windows, vehicles explode into the smallest parts â?“ this level of attention helps to draw you into the experience.

Sadly whilst the overall music suits the tone of the game well and helps to create a tense atmosphere, we have to complain about Germans and Russians speaking in English with bad accents â?“ itâ??s something that just lets down the whole side, when great lengths have gone to ensure the game remains authentic.

The game features over 25 missions, allowing the players to embark on four different campaigns from the perspectives of the Russians, American Army, UK SAS and naturally the Germans. Whilst itâ??s likely to take you a considerable time before youâ??ve seen all the game has to offer in single-player, the game also features a wide selection of multiplayer modes, allowing you to embark on Co-Op or Adversarial missions.

Despite Codemasters insistence on Soldiers offering a different experience to the often frustrating times to be had with other titles like this, it has to be said that the game does offer a stiff challenge, which will often have you pulling your hair out and reaching for the quick-save as often as possible. To be fair the multiple ways to complete a mission ensure that it doesnâ??t just become a matter of trial-and-error, and keeps the experience fresh and addictive â?“ but be warned you may find yourself reaching for the Quit option on a number of occasions.

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  • Graphics: 89%
  • Sound: 82%
  • Gameplay: 86%
  • Originality: 92%
  • Longevity: 84%
Overall Score: 8/10
Soldiers: Heroes of World War II combines an interesting blend of tactics and action, which will likely become a fond favourite of strategy fans. As with most titles in this genre, frustration is often at a high; however the unique blend of elements, mission structure and advanced AI keep you coming back long after you’ve said “that’s the last time”.

Even those who may not typically find time for strategy titles may find some enjoyment from the game, particularly when it comes to taking control of a plane or tank just to create absurd levels of damage to the fantastic scenery.

Ultimately Soldiers: Heroes of World War II offers a refreshing and immersive experience, although personally we’d like to have seen a little more focus on the action side of things.

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