After a multitude of delays, mega-scale WW2 RTS Steel Division 2 is out now. Another in Eugen Systems's line of extra chunky strategy games (including RUSE and the Wargame series), this one steps up from the relatively small maps of the original Steel Division's Normandy campaign and into the sprawling plains of Russia. One for the historical grognard crew, which is why we have Tim Stone in the trenches working on a review. We didn't put him in the trench - he just won't leave it. Below, a launch trailer showing off the game zoomed in closer than most will see it.
Steel Division 2's biggest difference over the first game is dynamic campaigns. Turn-based, as in the Wargame series, you move your armies around the theatre of war, and have to fight your real-time tactical battles using whatever troops you have to hand. It adds a bit of a deck-building element to assembling your armies, too. While the original Steel Division had some fun single-player missions, this format does appeal a lot more to me. There's even the option to enable auto-resolve so you can play it entirely as a turn-based game, but that'd be skipping 80% of the explosions.
As with Eugen's other big strategy games, Steel Division 2's battles are mostly played from an abstract map layer, but it's simulating everything down to where the individual shells land. You can zoom in and see your little infantrymen diving for cover as artillery rains down, but you're probably not giving very good orders if viewed at that angle. It's the curse of the series, but it makes for really fun replays of multiplayer matches, as you look at the chaos unfolding from an entirely new, more dynamic angle.
It would be remiss of me to mention Steel Division 2 and its delays without mentioning Eugen's recent frictions with their own staff. Much of the studio went on strike last year for two months. Not only did the studio not back down in the face of staff claiming they'd been underpaid, but Eugen went on to fire several of the people involved in the strike just days before Christmas. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, and whether or not Tim ends up giving this his medal of approval, I might be skipping on this one. A pity, as I've enjoyed Eugen's games up to this point.