World War II Combat: Road to Berlin casts players as an operative working for the Office of Strategic Services, who is stationed in war-torn Berlin and must use surveillance, stealth, and sharp shooting skills to prevent the Russians from obtaining sensitive information from the German atomic weapons program. The ultimate goal is to get to the "Vengeance Weapon" prototype before Stalin's forces and destroy it before it falls into the wrong hands. The game features fast-paced first-person shooter action, designed to keep player on their toes at all times.
The basic premise of the game is that you are playing Stephen Moore, a new, and young, officer of the OSS. The OSS is the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to what will one day be the CIA making you part solider and part spy on a mission. The timing is the end of WWII where the German forces are on the run and Stalin's army pushing forward to the walls of Berlin. All of these, sounds good, save that American intelligence has found out that within the walls of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute the Germans were building a super weapon called the "Vengeance Weapon". It is your job to combat through ten mission levels to get to these weapons first, keeping it out of the hands of both the Germans and the Russians, setting the stage for the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.
Through your ten missions you'll explore many locations in the European Theater, armed with a primary weapon, small pistol and one explosive. Your goal is generally to slaughter those you come across as you work to find the laboratories before they do. Thus far not a great plot, but that much different from many other first person shooter plots, particularly for this time period. It should be easy to make such a story work in the WWII environment, stranger has been accomplished with more panache, but somehow it all goes wrong as soon as the game play enters the picture.
In this first person shooter the general rules and expectations of first person shooters are the first thing to go. Most first person shooters rely on the ability of players to pick up additional weapons, ammo and, most importantly, health packs. In World War II Combat: Road to Berlin there is ammo to be picked up, but that's about it. Weapons dropped by the enemy may as well not exist, and there is no method for regaining health, so you must make it through each mission without dying or regenerating your health situation. Each mission isn't overly long and you can take several shots before you go down, but this means you fight each mission over and over again until you've memorized every step and where each and every enemy is hiding. On even the most basic of levels this requires playing the missions over and over that is quickly both boring and a waste of time. To add to this frustration there are several save points/check points on each level, but these do you little good if you arrive without enough health left. Save points do not change your health levels, and if you die you'll be returned to that save point with the same low health issues remaining. There is no manual saving possible, just adding to the problems of the situation.
Each mission level is started with one primary weapon, most of which are poorly implemented in their function, and no ability to pick up other weapons. As well trying to change to your secondary weapons is a near impossibility before you're already dead. Because of this often you'll find yourself in close combat with a sniper rifle or other inappropriate choices and no other options.
Even in the places where the game play is not too frustrating to be over come the technical aspects of the game present their own challenges. The mechanics of movement are not logical and often getting anywhere requires doing exactly the opposite of what you'd think you should do. The movements of your character and the enemies never feel entirely right, slipping and jerking in places where it should be smooth. The weapons never handle right, wildly spraying and aiming makes very little difference. Graphically everything is nearly the same color, drab, Grey and unremarkable. The details are rarely drawn out in any remarkable way and the characters are blocky. The audio isn't much better doing little to inspire. A bored voice actor who likely enjoyed recording the narration as much as you enjoy listening to it speaks the narration and there's very little music to comment on.
There is a multi player aspect to World War II Combat: Road to Berlin, allowing for up to 16 players and several different modes. Server browsing doesn't exist and you are simply randomly assigned to a server for a quick match. Most of the games you find are inhabited by bots, with very few human players. The net code is such that you tend to teleport back and forth and lag badly. The AI is highly predictable and shows very little in the way of strategy beyond the obvious, running straight at the target and shooting as they go.
Unfortunately, there is very little to recommend in World War II Combat: The Road to Berlin. Between the time spent waiting for the game to load and catch up, and fighting the game play issues and frustrations you'll find the game more of an enemy than the Germans.
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