The turning point is near
Genre: Strategy, Tactics
Developer: Flashback Games
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 8 Jul, 2021
We’ve now reached 1942 in the series of Axis Operations DLCs for Panzer Corps 2. The three past DLCs saw the fall of Poland, France and the start of the war with the Soviet union. Unlike Poland and France the Soviet Union has turned out to be a far greater adversary and the war is not going as well for the Germans as they had anticipated.
With 17 new levels (though one of those might need a * next to it) the 1942 DLC is another substantial DLC for Panzer Corps 2, particularly for its price, and it adds a lot of new levels and a mission type based almost entirely around aerial combat. And most importantly we get to see the large scale battles that happened between Germany and the Soviet Union at this time, when it finally looked like the war was about to turn.
Story & Setting
With Operation Barbarossa being well underway Germany has managed to penetrate deep into Soviet territory. While the Soviet forces were able to push the German forces back from Moscow, Germany still has a substantial army on Soviet soil. But the seemingly unstoppable German onslaught has finally been halted, and now Germany are bogged down in a war against a foe that’s proving to be stronger than expected. The strategy that had brought France to its knees so quickly has proven to not work as well against the vast Soviet Union. But the war is far from over, and the Soviet union is still in a precarious position. They might have a larger pool of manpower to draw from than Germany, but they’ve lost their most fertile land and after the losses they took in the previous year their army is in disarray.
Axis Operations – 1942 focuses mainly on the eastern fronts, and most of the major engagements there. This includes the massive Second Battle of Kharkov and the push into Stalingrad. The size of many of the levels are suitably huge with enormous armies fighting against each other on often mostly flat terrain. The Russians are far from pushovers, and they are bringing some of their industrial might to bear here, often fielding armies and airfleets larger than the German ones, and at this point in the war it’s becoming clear that the Soviet armored vehicles are often on par with their German counterparts (though it’s not until at the very end of 1943 that the first of the famous T-34/85 would roll off the assembly lines, so that’s one for the next DLC).
Before and after each mission you’ll get a briefing by one of the German officers, with historical officers, like Manstein, making cameos in some missions. The writing during these briefings, while not outstanding, helps give some character to what could otherwise end up being a very dry story. There’s also, after every mission, a short description of what historically happened during these battles.
With 17 new missions and the introduction of a few new units there’s a lot of stuff in this DLC, though most of it just builds on what was already in the game. There are in other words no massive surprises to be found here, just more of the same.
The levels are, with a few exceptions, big. And despite this they can sometimes feel a bit cramped, as huge armies clash on the plains of Russia. Your army is usually outnumbered and outgunned on the ground, so good use of artillery and airplanes becomes critical in order to be able to weaken and disorganize the Russian forces.
There’s pretty good map variety on display in this DLC. From trying to keep supply planes alive while breaking through the Soviet forces that have encircles a German army, to fighting outside of Leningrad where you need to keep both your back, facing the city, safe, as well as your front that’s being hammed by a large Soviet force to trying to rapidly reinforce the failing Romanian forces in the Second Battle of Kharkov, as they are being overrun by a huge armored force. Most levels also have some kind of optional objectives that you don’t have to complete, but which will give you rewards if you do complete them.
Most of the levels are good, well paced and pretty challenging, but there were a few instances, particularly in ones where you need to defend yourself against soviet counterattacks where they Soviet forces will attack early, and maybe get some reinforcements partyway through, but once you’ve beaten those forces the level won’t end. You need to wait until the turn limit is over, which means just hitting the next turn button repeatedly. This is a bit more annoying in levels where you have allied forces, as you’ll still need to sit and wait for your allies to move their troops back & forth.
At times you’ll have to choose which mission you want to play next, and there are also a few optional levels that you don’t need to do if you don’t want to. The standout one of these has you try to defend three German battleship as they travel through the English channel, with both British airplanes and ships constantly attacking them. One of the missions, Kummersdorf, does feel like it should not really be counted as a mission though, as it just has you train a few of your units against stationary targets that won’t fight back for a few turns. Targets that give a lot of experience. All while you get a bit more information about what’s going on in Germany.
You can import your save from Axis Operations – 1941 and continue with the army you used there, or start with a fresh one. Starting fresh does not mean starting with a completely untrained army though, and many of the default units already have some experience and heroes attached. If you ended 1941 with an army in shambles then starting with a few one might even be easier.
Axis Operations – 1942 is a really solid DLC for Panzer Corps 2 that gives you a lot of content for your money. Sure, most of that content is not too different from what was already in the game, but it is well made, and the few blemishes that this DLC does have don’t detract much from the overall experience.
If you’re a fan of Panzer Corps 2, and you’ve played through the past Axis operations, then I probably don’t even need to tell you to get this one. If you have not played through the other Axis operations DLCs, then this one is still not a bad DLC to get, particularly not if you enjoy large scale battles in Panzer Corps 2.