Axis Operation – 1940 bursts onto the scene and provides a thrilling experience of a DLC that finally lives up to the legacy set by Panzer Corps 2’s original release.
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Developer: Flashback Games
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 10 Dec, 2020
The third Axis Operations DLC has hit our digital shelves and it outdoes the two that came before it without question. Spanish Civil War and 1939 were both enjoyable enough in their own right, but for each improvement or innovation that they brought along, they seemed to introduce a new flaw as well. 1940’s arrival marks the first DLC that stands alongside the base game’s quality and I’ve found that it hooked me as deeply as the original release. I’ve had a good time visiting a number of historical scenarios that usually don’t make it into the fairly standard line-up that we’re used to at this point and their implementation has been A-grade.
At this point, I’ve reviewed Panzer Corps 2 and both of its previous DLCs (Spanish Civil War and 1939) so I’ll save us all some time and this review will be focusing entirely on the aspects of 1940 that have had an impact on me.
The German War Machine Presses Onward
First and foremost, mission design is drastically improved right from the start in Axis Operations – 1940. Spanish Civil War had a number of flaws that hindered my ability to enjoy it fully, and although 1939 was a marked improvement, it failed to reach the high points provided by the original Panzer Corps 2 scenarios. 1940 overcomes this with battles that are more reliably interesting with fewer tedious features tacked on but with more opportunities to get creative with your strategies. The variety of mission objectives was varied and yet didn’t feel forced either, there was a nearly perfect amount of innovation and respect for the classic blitzkrieg gameplay.
Commendations continue to be a rewarding aspect of the title that encourages you to push for those bonus objectives on each map. Events pop up as you progress that offer you the chance to spend them to unlock new units and heroes that tend to be worth the effort twice over. There’s nothing quite getting a new ace pilot on your forces that carves a path through the enemy in a way that only they can.
The legacy system of being able to choose different scenario paths to take your forces on is continued in 1940 and it’s as excellent a feature as ever. As early as the second scenario you’ll have the choice of two separate areas to push into, one that is particularly friendly to a crushing armor approach while the other will require a tactical use of combined arms. With this, Panzer Corps 2 is continuing to support a variety of playstyles and army builds that suit just about any commander who will hit the field.
Grizzled Veterans and Green Recruits
Axis Operations – 1940 carries with it what we loved about Panzer Corps 2 – quite literally. As the third entry in the Axis Operations campaign, you can continue moving forward with the forces that you had at the end of 1939, which in turn could have been ported over from the end of Spanish Civil War. This is an exciting feature for those who like to carry their legacy through dozens upon dozens of hours of warfare. I was happy to see this myself as I’ve spent plenty of time tailoring my core units to fit with my strategies and seeing the same unit of armor (though upgraded to a newer model by now) gives me the warm fuzzies. For those who are simply skipping to this campaign, or who would prefer to play with fresh forces, there’s a predetermined army available for your use as well.
1940 resonated with me a bit for one very personal reason that’s set entirely in opinion; we’re finally getting our hands on the most exciting German military technology. Though SCW and 1939 had plenty of interesting units, we’ve now hit the point where the equipment has been modified and tested with some of the real heavy-hitters finally making their way onto the battlefield. There’s nothing quite like outfitting an experienced unit of armor with new tanks that really lay a pounding on the enemy.
Panzer Corps 2 is an absolutely brilliant tactical wargame though its DLC that followed couldn’t quite compete with what was originally on offer. Axis Operations – 1940 changes this and serves as a return to form where the excellent experience of the base game is improved upon with new content that anyone can enjoy. Legacy forces and commendations are a nice touch that makes it that much rewarding to overcome your foes in every scenario, most of which are designed with a level of foresight that was a bit lacking in the previous two DLCs. If Flashback Games can keep this up they’re going to keep us all on the edge of our seat waiting for future DLC releases.
…And let’s not forget how crushing the French never loses its luster and 1940 provides quite the setup for you to teach them a thing or two about blitzkrieg.