Iron Cross is a real time/turn based hybrid wargame placed in the France of WW2. You create a character and then go at it in 1 one of 12 pre-made scenarios from either side. Depending on your prowess you'll be promoted or demoted with the consequential increase or decrease of units available to command.
Graphics are top-down 2d svga sprites, and the game includes historical commentary on all of the 12 scenarios, as well as a scenario editor.
There have certainly been a many games placed in the setting of Second World War. This game is no exception.
In the game Iron Cross you start with the D-Day and try to achieve the victory for the allies, or play the axis forces and try to fend off the oncoming allies, trying to free Europe from the Nazi boot.
The game opens up great, by color pictures taken by photographers of WW2 and short comments by the narrator. You get a very quick glance of what went on during the war. Then you get to the opening menu and here's where the game starts.
You can select a new player or continue a previously saved game (if you've played the game previously and saved it).
Upon creating your officer, the difficulty level of the computer and the side you want to play, you go to the battlefield selection screen. Since you need to purchase units and the number of credits depends upon your success, it is better to start with simpler battlefields and leave the more difficult fights for latter on. On the first possible battlefield you don't even have any artillery or air support, so it's just your guys running around and trying to kill their guys (without getting killed themselves).
After each mission you'll see a statistics screen and you'll also know if you've been promoted or not. If you are, there will be more prestige for you and you'll be able to purchase more or/and better units (but the units do vary from battlefield to battlefield - you can't very well bring in heavy artillery to the beach-heads of Normandy if there weren't any there).
The game features great high resolution graphics and very solid sounds and the commands are simple enough not to frustrate you. The game is fully mouse controlled and played in real time, although you can stop it anytime you want and it stops for a while, while you're giving orders to a specific unit of yours.
But the game has some severe downsides.
When you select a unit you can set its mode (move, attack, move and attack or attack and move). Naturally you can only move when you're close enough and if the enemy unit is in sight, so if you select the attack mode (or attack and then move) your units might get stuck in one place without moving, if they are unable to execute the attack. On the other hand in order to move in an attack position you need to cover a lot of ground and unless you feel like taking it step by step (which severely slows down the gameplay), you'll give the order for a unit to walk to a destination and this means they will not defend themselves until they reached it and they can get massacred on the way.
Also the graphics at combat level are really bad. You only get to see small blue or red points which move and an occasional fire, flame (from the flame thrower - OK that's cool), or a cloud of smoke or something when it's bombarded. So the only interesting site during the fight is the bottom right part of the screen, where you might see some goodies like Hitler ordering more troops to the area (which might not be good - you don't really want your enemy to get reinforcements).
All in all a somewhat poor executed battles in an otherwise very good wrapping. The game is a break from the hex mapped turn based strategies (such as Panzer General, or Allied General), but I'd still prefer the hex mapped games to this one. Maybe it's just the matter of taste, but I really dislike the fact you need to guide almost every step of every unit, less you want to leave it up to chance if they'll get killed on the long trip or not (also a unit without commands may stand idly and get massacred in the process without ever blinking).
Iron Cross is an ambitious but disappointing real-time wargame that lets you control infantry, artillery and armor units on various battlefields and you can play either the Axis or the Allies. There are twelve scenarios of progressive difficulty from The Longest Day in Normandy, during the biggest amphibious invasion of history, to Bridgehead at Remagen in Germany where you must avoid the destruction of the last bridge over the Rhine. In the words of M. Evan Brooks, veteran wargame reviewer: "A "real-time" tactical game of World War II, [Iron Cross] proved that "real-time" was merely another name for making the player do so much in so little time that the AI looks truly inspired when it was really retarded. History tooks a back seat to fun; historical battles were determined by orders of battle dependent on your personal point purchases. If you enjoy being overwhelmed by game systems that clearly do not want you to have a valid chance at tactical success, then this was the game for you."
The game does have some saving graces, although they are all "cosmetic" : authentic World War II footages that are sprinkled throughout the game are well-done, as are digitized sound effects. SVGA graphics also enable a large view of the battleground, although the units are not as clearly represented as SSI's classic Panzer General, so you will likely have a hard time telling them apart. Various units have characteristics such as the reloading speed, amount of ammunition, speed, size, etc., although they don't seem to affect the outcome very much because the enemy AI is none too bright. Overall, Iron Cross is a Real Dog that neither casual nor die-hard wargamers will enjoy. Steer clear of this one and play Clash of Steel instead.
People who downloaded Iron Cross have also downloaded:
High Command: Europe 1939-1945, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000), Iron Warriors: T72 - Tank Command, Operation Europe, Liberty or Death, Fall Weiss 1939, Iron Seed, History Line: 1914-1918 (a.k.a. Great War: 1914-1918, The)
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