Panzer General Computer Wargame History
Panzer General is a World War II computer wargame published by Strategic Simulations in 1994. Its novel feature was to link individual scenarios (battles) into a campaign that spans WWII from 1939 to 1945, where units are able to gain experience and become stronger and where success in one battle would award the player prestige to upgrade units, acquire additional units, and select a better scenario for the next battle. These features added to wargames the building or growing reward that made Civilization and role-playing games popular.
In 1996, Panzer General won the Origins Award for Best Military or Strategy Computer Game of 1995. It and its sequels spawned a loyal following of players who have added many new units, features, and over 2,500 scenarios to play--with new ideas still in development over a decade after its initial release (see external links).
* 1 or 2 players
Panzer General is turn-based (I go. You go.). A player can play any lone scenario from either Axis or Allied side and choose a computer or human opponent. In campaign mode, the player plays a German general againt the Allied computer. The basic design of the game is based on the traditional hex map and shares some commonality with the popular Squad Leader board game series, with a wide variety of units available and displayed as profiles. Panzer General is an operational-level game (mid-sized between strategic and tactical) and units approximate battalions (the largest Tiger tank organization), although unit size and map scale are elastic between scenarios. While the names and information for the units are reasonably accurate, the scenarios are only approximations of historical situations.
Allied General (1995) Allows the player to play any of 4 campaigns (Soviet, US, or two British) as an Allied general against the Axis computer. Individual scenarios still can be played from either side. Some players have argued that Allied General has an improved AI and more realistic unit selections.
Whereas the first Panzer General was made in DOS and can still be played in DOSbox, Allied General was made for Windows with pop-up data boxes for convenience. Allied General and Panzer General for Windows use the now-familiar pop-up interface and (not noticable to the typical user) an underlying file system that is different from the original Panzer General for DOS.
Pacific General introduced different graphics, naval features, and Japan.
Panzer General II
In 1997, Panzer General II (titled Panzer General IIID in Germany) upgraded the interface to use an overlay of photorealistic terrain, and to display units facing in different directions, resulting in a much improved appearance. In the April 2000 issue of PC Gamer, it was voted the 44th best computer game of all time.
Despite it's dated graphics (by today's standards), the gameplay mechanics and field HQ interface still have significant merit and popularity even a decade after release.
A gradual move away from turn-based games towards the Real-time strategy style of play have not diminished Panzer General 2's status within the genre.
Panzer General 3D
True 3D came in with the 1999 release of Panzer General 3D Assault; the units were small 3D models, and the view could be a perspective view over the battlefield.
Panzer General III: Scorched Earth was released in 2000, with better graphics and a redesigned interface.
SSI also produced the games Pacific General, Star General, Fantasy General in the series of five star general using the same engine and general design, but with different themes.