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WWII Online: Battlegrounds Europe is an MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) that is a mix of a first person shooter, Vehicle combat simulation, and a flight simulator. In most first person shooters the player blasts their way through heavily scripted events with a focus on the action and less on realism. As for online FPSs it is pretty much the same. Players engage in heavily action packed multiplayer matches with an emphasis mostly on action. WWII Online: Battlegrounds Europe is unlike any other FPS in that it is a simulation of WWII rather than a small experience of WWII.

WWII Online combines many different genres of video games onto one online persistent battlefield. Players may choose to fight war between the Axis and Allies as infantry & gun crews, armor, aircraft, and costal naval forces. The infantry, air, and naval all work towards conquering the Western Front during the early years of WWII as Germany invaded Holland, Denmark, Luxembourg and France.

Players participate in the fight over territory control. Volunteer players that joined the high command (HC) of either side make strategic considerations as to were to attack, and how to best lead their team to victory. Victory is achieved for the Axis with the capture of the French factory cities (Or the much harder rarely tried invasion of England and capture of thier factory cities), For allied victory, the Allies must capture the German factory cities. When victory is declared the server is reset and the war is started over. At the start of a new campaign the world is reset, the front lines are reassembled along the Meuse river, the different brigades of each side are deployed according to each high commands strategy decision. Once the game starts, each side attacks enemy cities to advance the front line in an attempt to capture all of Europe. When a city is captured, it is up to the High command players to decide which brigades to move in and out of the cities. Some Cities are of greater strategic importance than others, some cities have airfields and other have naval docks, several have both. These towns allow for the naval brigades or air force units to be deployed strategically closer to the front. This is important for High command as well as for increasing (or decreasing) moral of a teams player base.

The basic concept of the game is territory control there are many, MANY cities and towns located on the map (look at a map of Belgium for an Idea of how many towns [in game land marks such as lakes rivers and Cities and villages are fairly accurately placed in relation to each other in real life]). Each city in the game is made up of a combination civilian & military buildings. The civilian buildings are merely cover, but the military buildings are of importance. The Command buildings also known as Choke points / capture points (referred to as "CP" in game) are vital for the securing of territory. A player will spend a vast amount of time in game attacking or defending these CPs. Every town / city has at least one army base bunker (Army base referred to as an "AB" in game) The bunker is usually the last capture during an attack and is the ultimate goal during an attack since control of the AB equals control of the town. In order to capture an army base, High command of either team must place and Attack objective (AO) on the city they whish to attack. Players from both sides, having seen the AO will begin to move into to position to attack or defend the city. After 10 minuets of an AO being placed the CPs become capturable by players. A player must capture and hold a CP to contest a town for capture of the Army base. If the attacking team can keep a town in contention for 10 minuets the AB bunker becomes capturable. If the defending players can un-contest the town before the AB is captured the AB timer is reset to 10 minuets from the point that the town become contested again. (Airfields and Naval bases also have a 10 minute timer [same as the Army base]) The battle for a town in over when either the attacker gives up and pulls the AO to try a battle elsewhere, or if the attacking team captures all the CPs and than the AB. If the AB is captured prior to securing the entire town the AO on the town will switch to a AO for the defenders to take the town, and the CP timers will reflect the time already elapsed in the battle.

The attacking players will generally know about the attack before the defenders. In preparation for an attack Players will take trucks pulling Anti-tank guns and Anti-Air guns to the outskirts of the town to be attacked. Trucks can be deployed into mobile spawn points, which allow infantry to spawn in much closer to the battle & bipasses the long truck ride or walk into battle that was a hallmark of the pre Battleground Europe WWIIOL. Once a couple Mobile spawn point is deployed within range of their current mission objective high command will issue the attack order and the battle is on. Defenders spawn in their defending troops and armor to defend against the attackers. If the attackers manage to capture the bunkers of the city, the enemy brigade that was stationed there is bounced back to their closest adjacent city, thus making them unable to deploy any more defenders, but allows for a counter attack from the back lines.

As previously established It is up to the high commands of each side to determine where to attack next. Since the world is massive and persistent, you can only attack cities that have been given an attack order. This focuses all of the forces to single points on the map and results in some pretty large scale battles.

What makes WWII Online: Battlegrounds Europe much more than a large version of Battlefield 1942? It is the fact that WWIIOL is a combat sim. It takes no more than one shot to the head or the torso to kill an infantryman. To destroy a tank you cannot repeatedly hit it with an anti-tank gun or your tank's main gun. There are no health / repair bars for the vehicles. Instead you must hit the weak points of the enemy tanks with your gun in order to kill crew members or hit ammo and fuel storage to blow the tank sky high. This requires some knowledge of your vehicle, its weapon system, how much armor it can penetrate, and at what ranges. It is also vital that a player knows the enemy units, how much armor the enemy tank has, and where. This information is important for deciding when and where to engage a target tank. What gun the enemy has and how much armor your tank has should also influence you choices in battle have (I.E. should I stay or should I turn tail and run?). There are no death messages in this game. When you or an team member kill an enemy there is no message that they have been killed. So you must rely on visual and audio to confirm kills.

There is a fully modeled flight simulator built into WWII Online. Once the army has captured an enemy city with an airfield in it, players can deploy planes and bombers and take to the skies to dogfight other planes or provide air support for the ground troops. Since it is one persistent world, while flying players will see and hear the ground battle below as well as be seen by the ground soldiers. Ground soldiers can deploy anti-aircraft guns and shoot down enemy planes. The combat in aircraft is similar to that of other combat flight sims. You get no health bar and no damage warnings what-so-ever. Keep in mind the flying, just like the rest of the game, is 100% player-versus-player. There are no AI planes to be found here.

The naval portion of the game allows players to spawn destroyers, small river boats, and transports. This is by far the weakest portion of the game as navy plays insignificant role in the war. The developer Cornered Rat Software has promised to revamp the entire navy portion of the game once a new graphics engine is in place.

There are many weapon systems that players will come into contact with in the game. The current list of player classes & vehicles is as follows:

Infantry Kits

  • Rifleman: armed with a bolt action rifle, fragmentation grenades, smoke grenades and a knife. (Riflemen are the only class that can resupply other infantry with ammunition.)
  • Sub Machinegunner: armed with a submachine gun, fragmentation grenades, smoke grenades, a knife, and a pistol.
  • Light Machinegunner: Armed with a Light Machinegun, a pistol, and a knife.
  • Anti tank Riflemen: Armed with a antitank rifle, a knife, and a pistol.
  • Sniper: Armed with a scoped bolt action rifle, smoke grenades and a knife.
  • Grenidier: Armed with a bolt action rifle, smoke grenades, a knife, and rifle grenades. (The German grenade detonates on contact, the French grenade has a delayed fuse and the British grenade is a high-explosive anti tank round)
  • Mortar: Armed with a 60mm mortar, A bolt action rifle, mortar shells both high explosive and Smoke, and a knife.
  • Sapper: Armed with a bolt action rifle, fragmentation grenades, smoke grenades, a knife, and satchel charges. (Sappers can repair bridges that have been destroyed, they are also vital for destroying forward bases, their satchel charge is also effective against all armored vehicles in game)
  • Para-Tropper: There are several classes of paratrooper available to spawn, they have the same weapons as their normal infantry counter parts, but they all carry a resupply pack of ammo. Currently there are Riflemen, Sub machinegunners, Light machinegunners, Mortars, and Snipers available as paratroopers

French Infantry Weapons

Picking off German infantry from cover with the Mas 36 Rifle
  • Fusil Mas 1936 bolt-action rfile
  • Pistolet-mitrailleur Mas mle 38 Sub machinegun
  • Boys Anti-Tank rifle
  • Pistolet automatique mle 1935S pistol
  • Fusil-Mitrailleur mle 1924/29 Light machinegun
  • Fusil mle 1886 M93 "Lebe" with APX mle 1921 scope bolt-action sniper rifle
  • Lance-grenades de 50mm mle 37 Mortar

British Infantry Weapons

View from a Bren gun deployed in a 3rd story window
  • Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I bolt-action rifle Mk III scope for sniper rifle
  • Thompson Model 1928 Sub machinegun
  • Boys Anti-Tank rifle
  • Webly .455 revolver
  • Bren Mk I Light machinegun
  • Ordanance SBML 2 inch Mortar

German Infantry Weapons

Picking off French infantry with a deployed Mg-34

French Anti Tank & Air guns

  • 25mm SA mle 1934 ATG
  • 47mm SA mle 1937 ATG
  • M1A3 57mm ATG
  • M5 3 inch ATG
  • 25mm CA mle 1938 AAA
  • Bofors 40mm AAA

British Anti Tank & Air guns

German infantry crossing a bridge, bring along a PaK 36

  • QF 2 Pdr 40mm ATG
  • QF 6 Pdr 57mm ATG
  • QF 17 Pdr 76.2mm ATG
  • 25mm CA mle 1938 AAA
  • Bofors 40mm AAA

German Anti Tank & Air guns

This is what happens when aircraft get hit by a 40mm Bofors round.

  • PaK 36 37mm ATG
  • PaK 38 50mm ATG
  • PaK 40 75mm ATG
  • FlaK 36 88mm ATG/AAA
  • FlaK 28L50 40mm AAA
  • FlaK 30 20mm AAA

French Trucks

  • Laffly S-20

British Trucks

  • Bedford OYD
  • Morris CDSW

German Trucks

  • Opel Blitz
  • SdKfz 7 half track

French Armored Vehichels

Sherman tanks of the 3CD squad heading towards certain death.

  • Panhard 178 armored car
  • Renault R-35 light tank
  • Hotchkiss H-39 light tank
  • Soma S-35 medium tank
  • Renault B1-bis "Char" heavy tank
  • M3A3 Stuart light tank
  • M4A2 Sherman 75 medium tank
  • M4A3 Sherman 76 medium tank
  • M10 Wolverine tank destroyer
  • Laffly W-15 TCC tank destroyer

British Armored Vehicles

A culomn of Matilda tanks heading to battle.
A H-39 finds its self in the sights of a Pz 3H.
  • Daimler Mk I armored car
  • Vickers Mk VI light tank
  • Cruiser Tank Mk IV (A-13 Mk II) light tank
  • Infantry Tank Mk II (A-12) "Matilda" heavy tank
  • Crusader Mk II A-15 light tank
  • Crusader Mk III A-15 light tank
  • Churchill Mk III heavy tank
  • Churchill Mk VII heavy tank

German Armored Vehicles

A night time column of Panzer IIIs
  • SonderKraftfahrzeug SdKfz 232 / 8 Rad armored car
  • Panzerkampfwagen PzKpfw II Ausf. C light tank
  • PzKpfw 38(t) light tank
  • PzKpfw III Ausf. F meduim tank
  • PzKpfw IV Ausf. D medium tank
  • Sturmgeschütz StuG III Ausf. B tank destroyer
  • PzKpfw III Ausf. H medium tank
  • PzKpfw IV Ausf. G medium tank
  • StuG III Ausf. G tank destroyer
  • PzKpfw VI Ausf. E "Tiger" heavy tank
  • Sdkfz 251 Ausf. C armored personnel carrier

French Aircraft

French P-38s form up for a fightersweep to clear the skys of the Luftwaffe
  • Curtiss H-75 / P-36 fighter
  • Dewoitine D.520 fighter
  • Curtiss H-81 A2 / P-40C fighter
  • Curtiss H-87 B3 / P-40F fighter
  • Lockheed 322-15 / P-38F Lightning fighter
  • Bell Model 14a / P-39 D-1 fighter / bomber
  • Bristol Blenhiem Mk IV light bomber
  • Douglas DB-7 multi-role bomber
  • Junkers Ju-52/3M troop transport

British Aircraft

A Bf 110 explodes after taking a beating from a Spitfire Mk Vb
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk I fighter
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia fighter
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk IIb fighter
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ib fighter
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb fighter
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc fighter
  • Bristol Blenhiem Mk If fighter / bomber
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc fighter / bomber
  • Bristol Blenhiem Mk IV light bomber
  • Havoc Mk I multi-role bomber
  • C-47 Dakota troop transport

German Aircraft

He 111s climb to altitude for an attack on French Factorys
A D.520 goes down in flames after messing with a ju-87b Stuka.
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1 fighter
  • Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-4 fighter
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 fighter
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 fighter
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 / U-4 fighter
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-4 figher
  • Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-4/B fighter / bomber
  • Junkers Ju-87B Stuka dive bomber
  • Heinkel He 111H-2 Medium Bomber
  • Junkers Ju-53/3M troop transport

French Navy

  • Fairmile B patrol boat
  • AK 1917 Freighter
  • Aigle Class Destroyer

British Navy

View from the Twin 20mm AA guns on a Fairmile B patrol boat.

  • Fairmile B patrol boat
  • AK 1917 Freighter
  • J/K Class Destroyer

German Navy

  • Fairmile B patrol boat
  • AK 1917 Freighter
  • Z. 1934 Destroyer

WWII Online: Battlegrounds Europe is an old game and shows its age. The developer CRS is currently working on an upgraded game engine that will improve the graphics, the physics, and the network so that the game plays even smoother than it does now.

As of August 24th, 2009, CRS has announced its major patch, 1.31, that will improve the gameplay and graphics of the entire game world. As taken from the CRS website...

Some of the features, upgrades and new content planned for v1.31 include;

• Game engine performance improvements with upgraded shaders, normals and specular mapping

• SpeedTree Upgrade
- 1,000,000 trees updated with new models and colliders
- Normal mapping and self-shadowing

• New Capture Mechanics
- Removal of tables and radios with new timers and capture start/stop feature

• Upgraded infantry movement, animation & rag doll physics
- Updated animation blending for smoother third-person movement
- Rag doll physics applied to infantry death animations including force push from explosions
- New idle animations including combat-ready pose

• Upgraded special effects including variable weather
- Updated character and vehicle shadows
- New tree and object shadows
- Updated fire and explosions
- Updated muzzle flashes and effects such as blood splatter
- Updated hit effects on materials
- Dynamic clouds/fog/lighting settings
- Rain effects

• New clutter system
- New clutter system including persistent grass fields
- New radial clutter system with grass/scrub clutter

• New and updated objects
- Ground and object textures
- AA, AT, AP emplacements
- Buildings including urbans, barns, bunkers, docks, railroad stations, windmills and many more
- Tree/bush clumps/berms
- Updated vehicles; Char, Bf109 E4, Spitfire 1a and Spitfire Vb

The first stage of the open beta has been announced for December 24th, 2009 and will allow players to check out the changes in the offline mode. The online open beta has not yet been announced nor has the release date.

WWII Online is a 100% player driven war simulation. Once a new campaign has started every action is dictated by the players themselves. No scripted events, no storyline, and no pausing. Just 100% PvP 24/7 until one side conquers all of Europe.

Critical Reception

Game Informer gave the review scores of 8.25 and 7 out of ten. Kristian Brogger wrote, "...When you get to the actual game (after downloading a number of patches), you'll be shocked at the sheer scope of its creation... The environments are absolutely mammoth. If you're trying to walk to a battle, you'll probably be in for a long, long hike... You're given a stamina meter which only allows you to sprint for short periods of time, and a health gauge. However, I only survived a hit once, and it took half my health. This is an excellent feature... if you're shot you'll actually die, imagine that".

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