Review: Glory of Generals07 May 2013 0
We've been waiting entirely too long for the arrival of Slitherine's Panzer Corps on iOS. I know this because grognards starved for operational-level wargames descended in a boil upon my Twitter feed and email inbox the other day after the release of Glory of Generals, an iOS game with a remarkable resemblance to Panzer Corps -- and that game's inspiration Panzer General. Since we're waiting until at least the end of the summer for Panzer Corps, that gives us plenty of time to get acquainted with the new arrival.
There's ample reason to be skeptical about the provenance of Glory of Generals, though: its developers EASY Inc are the makers of a long parade of largely identical Risk-likes for iOS. European War 3 (which we reviewed last year) is typical of the developer's catalog: a simple game with nice graphics, unburdened by tactical complexity. Glory of Generals might trade in the usual EASY Risk mechanics for Panzer General ones, but the rest of the M.O. remains the same.
Operational-level games set on the European fronts of WWII are possibly the most well-trod ground in all of wargaming, and Glory of Generals is happy to find the deepest ruts and stick to them. Nothing new or revolutionary here, just the usual EASY formula of simple mechanics and colorful, chunky sprites. There's a mountain of content and campaigns in Glory of Generals, all of which will be familiar to fans of Panzer Corps. You'll invade Poland in Fall Weiss, turn back the Germans' Operation Sea Lion, and joust with Rommel in North Africa. Despite the game's wide historical scope, the sprites never change -- so if you're a pedant for historical accuracy you'll want to shield your eyes from the anachronistic sight of Panther tanks rolling into Warsaw in 1939.
It seems like EASY have put some thought into the combat engine -- they've just forgotten to share those thoughts with us. There's different sorts of terrain and a huge number of different unit types, but I have no idea what sort of effects they're having (if any) on my combat results. In most operational wargames there's conventions that the tactics follow -- engineers are better at attacking dug-in units and armor fights better in open terrain -- but I have no clue if Glory of Generals is taking any of that into account. As in Strategy & Tactics World War II, you're never making any more informed decisions than taking one unit and bashing it into another unit to see what happens. It's possible that there's a brilliant tactical engine in here somewhere, but because the game never shares any of the underlying numbers it may as well be random dice rolling.
One way to tilt the odds in your favor is to attach a famous general to a unit. Glory of Generals features a huge roster of flag officers from every side of the conflict -- you use the in-game currency of medals to purchase big name leaders. You accrue medals from beating scenarios in campaign mode, but EASY is more than happy to sell you medals for actual cash if you're in a rush. Those willing to grind (or splash out the cash) can have their panzer divisions led by Guderian or Zhukov, or if you've got a hankering for unlikely inter-service cooperation you can hand command of your tanks over to Yamamoto or Hap Arnold, somehow.
There is one interesting quirk to Glory of Generals: unlike most wargames of this scale, you're never alone on the battlefield. Besides the enemy, you are usually cast as the commander of one wing of the allied forces on the field, fighting alongside corps led by friendly AI. It's a nice idea in theory (one that gives a nice sense of scale to the proceedings), but you never get the sense that you're competing for glory against your comrades in the style of Monty and Patton. Watching all of the AI moves between turns also bogs the game down quite a bit.
If Panzer Corps is a "beer & pretzels" wargame, then Glory of Generals is a Doritos and Four Loko wargame. With its completely opaque mechanics and toothless AI, the best thing you can say about it is that it's a "strategy" game that can you can go through the motions of playing while doing something else. There's worse games on the App Store but armchair generals waiting for Panzer Corps for iPad would be best advised to keep waiting.