While Steel Panthers covered armored warfare from 1939-1945, Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles focuses on conflicts from 1950-2000. It is a turn-based strategy game, set on a map divided into hexagons. The basic game engine (graphics, user interface etc.) is nearly the same as in part one, with minor improvements. One important difference is the scale of the game: a bigger map, more units, which have more statistic values etc.
Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles, the sequel to Steel Panthers, covers the battles and conflicts of the latter half of the 20th century, from the Korean War in the early 1950s through Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s, and also includes a couple of hypothetical late-1990s scenarios.
Steel Panthers 2 puts the player into the role of a company commander. As you move your forces (armor, infantry, artillery, etc.) around the hex-grid battlefields to capture or defend specific objective hexes, you can call in air strikes and artillery bombardment, and try to outsmart and outmaneuver your opponent.
The gameplay is turn-based, and is played on a hexagonal grid in a board-game format. The graphics are functional, with enough differentiation between various units to tell them apart at a glance. The graphics are more refined than the original Steel Panthers.
The controls are simple to figure out: Left-click to select units and give orders; right-click to change the direction your unit is facing or open the unit information screen. The various buttons along the side of the screen are self-explanatory.
There are a few changes between Steel Panthers and Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles, such as the introduction of missile-armed units, refined mobility, and the ability of a unit to look in almost any direction instead of straight at a hex side, movable artillery, and helicopters.
Helicopters have a special command that can only be given from within their unit information screen. That command changes the unit's altitude between Landed, Nap-of-the-Earth (the helicopter stays just above the terrain in its hex), and High Altitude. High altitude allows helicopters to see almost the entire map but also makes them visible and an easy target for enemy troops.
Undoubtedly, the biggest change is the introduction of the ability to shift artillery. In Steel Panthers, if you wanted to move the center point of an artillery barrage, you ended up with a two-turn or more delay until the artillery could attack again. Instead, Steel Panthers 2 allows you to move the center point of the artillery barrage up to two hexes with almost no delay between shots.
As with the original Steel Panthers, Steel Panthers 2 is historically accurate in its scenarios, campaigns, and units. Strategic Simulations Inc. clearly spent a lot of time and energy researching and accurately recreating all the weapons, vehicles, and battles for the player to enjoy.
Overall, it was a modest improvement over Steel Panthers, introducing many features the original was clearly lacking. The best of all the Steel Panthers games, Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles set the standard for turn-based military command games, and every armchair general should give this game a shot.
People who downloaded Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles have also downloaded:
Steel Panthers 3: Brigade Command (1939-1999), Steel Panthers, Panzer General 2, People's General (a.k.a. Dynasty General), Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3, Pacific General, Civil War Generals 2, Panzer General 3: Scorched Earth
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