Take back the motherland from those dirty Nazis!
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Developer: 2×2 Games, Croteam
Publisher: 2×2 Games
Release date: 31 Aug, 2021
Things were looking dark, not just for Russia, but for the entire world. Germany were at the gates of Moscow, in the west it was feared that Germany would accomplish that which so many had tried and failed to do before them, invade Russia. But then it happened, the advance was stopped, Russia did not fall and it was show to the world that Germany was not unstoppable.
Moscow 41 is the third DLC for Unity of Command. After two well received DLCs before it, one dealing with the Blitzkrieg in Poland and France from the perspective of the German forces and the other with the initial invasion of the Soviet union, also from the perspective of the Germans, we’re now switching over to the perspective of the Russians, as they try to take back the land that Germany took from them.
Story & Setting
Germany was right at the gates of Moscow and to the world at large the fall of the Soviet Union looked inevitable. The Nazis were winning. But somehow, through tenacity, desperation and the help of General Winter who decided to make life extra difficult for the Germans, they were able to pull through, and hold back the advancing German forces. And not just hold them back, but even push them back.
That’s the popular narrative surrounding the turning point of Barbarossa, and while there’s some truth to it, it’s a serious over-simplification, and one that tends to paint the winter as the main deciding factor in what stopped the German advance. The winter certainly did not help them, but the supply lines of Germany were stretched to their breaking point even before that, equipment was breaking down and the losses they had incurred during the invasion were starting to add up. It’s often said that Germany was unprepared for the Soviet winter, but that’s at best a half truth, and they had winter clothes ready, they just did not have the trucks, trains and horse carts to bring both the necessary winter clothes to the front line if they also wanted to bring food and ammunition, and without food and ammunition they would surely have lost sooner.
At the same time the Soviet union had lost their most fertile land, and large parts of their most densely populated areas. The Soviet union was bleeding, and they really did not have the vast manpower pools that are often mentioned in popular history. The Soviet Union was huge, but most of its population was in the western parts of the country. In hindsight we can say that the German invasion of the Soviet Union was a mistake, but at the time it really did look like German was about to do what Napoleon and Charles XII had failed to do.
In Moscow 41 you get to see the failed attack on Moscow, and how the Soviet union was then able to use the momentum of their victory to push back the German forces. And in the game you’ll get to see several of the early victories of the Red Army as they face off against Germany in late 41 and early 42. Though the war would not end for several years still, and the Soviet Union and Germany would trade losses for a while longer. But at least this did show to the rest of the world that there was hope, that Germany could be beaten, and this was the beginning of the end for Germany.
Moscow 41 sees you take control of the vast Soviet army as they halt the German advance. It’s the smallest DLC thus far. With 11 new scenarios significantly shorter than the last one, Barbarossa, and even the first DLC, Blitzkrieg (which had 13). There’s also not a lot of new units, as most of the Soviet units, and all of the German units were seen in Barbarossa.
Playing as the Soviet Union feels quite different from the German army, as you lack the punching power that the Germans had (this is before the Red Army could field a lot of T-34 tanks after all), and instead have to rely heavily on large infantry formations. Infantry formations that are not that great in combat. As a result many levels are focusing on large scale battles where you need to encircle the enemy in order to cut the supply lines. Encircling the enemy is always important in Unity of Command II, but in this DLC it’s even more crucial, as you can often not win through brute force alone.
The level design is overall pretty good, even if a few levels feel a bit spammy(the defense of Moscow level is particularly bad in this regard), with the frontlines so clogged up that you can’t move troops around. Most levels cover a lot of ground, with long front lines and plenty of space for encircling the enemy, and there’s one that sees a smaller scale naval invasion, that acts as a refreshing change of pace. The levels are on average a bit easier than past DLCs, though some of the secondary objectives can be fiendishly difficult to accomplish.
Moscow 41 is probably the weakest DLC thus far for Unity of Command II, as it does not bring a lot of new to the table, but that’s not to say that it’s bad, the levels are still fun to play, and there’s enough variety for it to never get repetitive. The change in how levels are balanced, with the primary objectives being easier than past DLCs and the secondary objectives still being quite hard might also be something that some people will appreciate (after all, it was quite easy to get stuck in the older DLCs). Overall I would still recommend Moscow 41 to anyone who are craving more Unity of Command II, particularly to those who enjoyed Unity of Command II but found it a bit too difficult, but if you breezed through Barbarossa then you might find Moscow 41 to be a bit too easy.