Panzer Tactics HD is the 2014 update to a 2007 Nintendo DS game. Available for the first time on PCs through the Steam platform, how does the game stack up against others in the genre on a platform with such a rich history for strategy games – a platform that is also home to the acclaimed Panzer General series.
Just like in the original game, the gameplay is spread out across three campaigns representing the major factions during WW 2: the Allies, the Axis and Soviets. With 150 units between them, there is no shortage of diversity in terms of the tools of war that you’re offered and different scenarios ask for different solutions. At its core, as we’ve come to know from the Panzer series, is a turn-based system in which terrain plays a large role in ensuring victory. Fighting an otherwise equally matched opponent from out in the open is almost certainly a recipe for defeat, and the advantage of height or cover is often the key to success.
The maps in Panzer Tactics HD are surprisingly large, considering the fact that this was ported from a handheld system. This allows for extra strategic depth as you have more options to maneuver your troops into place and catch the enemy by surprise. What’s at stake is of course dependent on the side you’re currently fighting for, but the gameplay doesn’t change much throughout the three different campaigns. Multiplaying is also lacking, which is surprising considering the norms of the genre and the amount of multiplayer strategy games already out there.
Unfortunately, it’s little missing things like that which ultimately keep Panzer Tactics HD from being a must-have title. Its mechanics are solid, but not as deep as strategy purists would like. Its graphics do the job, but aren’t too exciting to look at. All of this ultimately points back to the handheld console roots of the game, which of course brings limitations with it. As it stands, this is a game that’s interesting to pick up as a more casual strategy experience, but harder to recommend to fans of the genre.