Perfect Conversion

Panzer Elite Action Gold review

Thank you Europe! For keeping PC gaming interesting with a steady stream of low priced and strangely titled games. Games like Panzer Elite Action: Gold edition which as you may have guessed, is a tank game. This gold edition release contains the original Panzer elite action from 2006 with the 2007 Dunes of war expansion.

Since the release of M2 Abrams by Microprose in '98, the tank has seldom been in the spotlight, in fact one could say it has had more success in a cameo role in games like Battlefield 1942. Zootfly's Panzer Elite won't bring back the M2 days (sorry tank fans), and its not a 200 page manual game like M2 (sorry again!) but there are some redeeming qualities to this cheap and cheerful romp.

At its heart, this game is an arcade game, which is probably what the 'Action' in the title refers to. Enemy tanks take 2 shots to kill while you take 20 and the controls are pretty close to a first person shooter. Its very easy to get into and I found it was at its most enjoyable playing in short bursts, as the repetitive nature of the missions will get to you after an extended session.

Starting a new game of Panzer Elite, you would probably expect to choose a campaign; axis or allies, and go through the motions of the usual 'big battles' from the war. Panzer elite mixes things up by offering only 1 campaign and splitting it into three parts. The first chunk of missions are as a German tank commander, as the German army punches through Poland and eventually into Russia. Following the Stalingrad mission the next group of missions are as the Russian's, trying to protect the capital and drive the Germans out of Russia, and eventually you take control as the Americans and the push for Berlin. There are story lines attached to each side (apart from the obvious world war storyline) but they're basically all the same "tank commander gets new crew, tank commander doesn't like new crew, tank commander learns to love new crew". Many group hugs ensue.

On your journey through the war you control a pretty nice selection of tanks, though they are assigned to you based on the relative timeline of the mission in the war. That  means no 'tank shop' here folks. The tanks themselves and the landscapes are quite nicely rendered, in particular the open countryside planes are beautiful, as are the desert oasis' of the expansion. Cities are a little bit bland and dull however, with a lot of browns and blurry building textures.

Tank controls and the game in general are fairly stable, though as with most budget European games there are the occasional bugs. Some of the tanks feel a little bit wobbly and after failing a couple of missions I had to restart the game because no menu options (i.e restart) would appear. Finally, some of the train guns took an insane amount of punishment before going down, which is very annoying given how much damage they dish out. For a budget game though, its pretty tight.

One last aspect the game falls short in is recreating a convincing complete battle field feel. Most of the battles are explained to be tank battles, but the missions where planes or infantry should be important don't really feel like your part of something bigger. Most times planes are mentioned is after the words "shoot down the" (yes tanks shooting down planes). Infantry play a relatively minor role, even in missions like Omaha Beach which just feels like another tank battle with more artillery guns and pillboxes than usual. Multiplayer doesn't pull any punches, but it is competently executed so it could be a nice change at a LAN get together.

Panzer Elite Action may be arcadey, but there is enough here to keep most gamers entertained for a while, and cruising the countryside in a 50 tonne Tiger tank is a nice change from the usual PC fare. 

In brief: Worth checking out if you like action or arcade games and tanks are even remotely appealing to you. 

Panzer Elite Action Gold can be found in game stores for $9.95 Au, or probably online via digital distribution at the JoWood store in the near future (not at time of writing though)



--Shaz-- DESIGN 2006