Remember when everyone had a World War II game that was either out, or in development? A decade or so ago, World War II was the most popular setting of the day. But despite the glut of these games, there were some great titles that used the setting well. These eight are some prime examples of that.

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Commandos 2: Men of Courage

A great squad-level real-time tactics game, Commandos 2: Men of Courage gave you control of a squad of commandos behind enemy lines. For each mission, you’ll build a team from options like “The Sniper,” “The Driver,” and “The Thief.” Missions range from rescuing a submarine crew in the North Sea to taking out the bridge over the river Kwai. You’ll even arrive in Normandy just in time for the D-Day invasion. Commandos 2 had great AI when it was released, but it could a bit tough to pick up quickly. Still, it’s a fun way to get your World War II fix.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

I lost a lot of hours to Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. Its brutal depiction of the war on the Eastern Front just nails the setting, and there’s a distinct lack of modern conveniences like regenerating health and reviving your downed buddy. It implemented a solid suppression system that allowed you to drop the morale of a player simply by pouring bullets at them, and also made players who were doing well into heroes that could boost the morale of their allies. There’s little singleplayer to speak of, with it consisting of multiplayer maps populated with bots, and stitched together by cutscenes. That said, it’s one of my favorite WWII shooters of the last few years, simply because it doesn’t shrink from offering up a challenge.

Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific

Take to the seas (or below them!) to re-fight the major naval battles of the Pacific. Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific puts you at the helm of a WWII-era submarine, and tasks you with carrying out a variety of missions, ranging from rescues to recons, and even asking you to insert secret agents. A wide variety of United States submarines are available, and the [Em]U-Boat Missions[/em] add-on brings in German submarine missions in the Indian Ocean as well. Submarine games have been thin in recent years, but Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific is definitely worth checking out.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

A first-person shooter with some tactical controls, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 puts you into the true story of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. As paratrooper Matt Baker, you lead a squad and complete the same missions the famed division tackled in Mission Albany. The most interesting part of Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is the targeting system. You don’t have perfect aim, and incoming fire can throw off your aim even more. It’s meant to simulate the stress of firing in combat. If you try this one and like it, there are a couple of sequels that play basically the same.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

The iconic World War II video game, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is the one that started it all. Its levels are often compared to the action of the film Saving Preivate Ryan, and several of its missions parallel the movie exactly, including the assault on Omaha Beach.As Lt. Mike Powell, a US Army Ranger who works for the OSS, you’ll take out German bases, go behind enemy lines to rescue your friends, and generally make life difficult for the German Army. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was one of the first hugely successful World War II games, and it still holds up pretty well today.

IL-2 Sturmovik

In 2001, IL-2 Sturmovik put gamers in the cockpit of over 30 aircraft used on the Eastern Front of World War II. After strapping in, you complete a number of different missions, including air-to-air dogfights, escort missions, and carrying out search and destroy missions. A “Pilot Career” campaign mode lets you create your own pilot, and play through six historical campaigns to earn awards, promotions, and more. While it’s not a thoroughly “realistic” flight sim, it’s near enough for the average gamer, and the planes manage to avoid the arcade-like fell of some sims. It’s a beautiful, fun way to take to the skies of WWII, and definitely worth your time.

The Saboteur

Irish race-car mechanic Sean Devlin is in Paris during the Nazi occupation. After a Nazi colonel executes his friend, Devlin decides to get revenge by helping the Resistance, and killing the colonel. The Saboteuroffers up a semi-open world feel, as Devlin can complete missions around the city. As he completes missions, the black-and-white world of Paris will begin to colorize. Colorized areas are more free, and the citizens there will aid Sean in his missions, and help attack hostile Nazis. Strangely, the war is almost a secondary event in the game, as Devlin’s main focus is revenge. The Saboteur is an often overlooked title, as its developer, Pandemic Studios, was closed shortly after the game was released.

Company of Heroes

Relic Entertainment’s 800-lb gorilla of a real-time strategy game is Company of Heroes. Pitting the United States (and the British, in the expansion packs) against the Germans, the game focuses less on base building and more on units and tactics. Cover is taken into account, with units in cover receiving bonuses in combat. With its tight combat, great maps, balanced factions, and solid gameplay, [em]Company of Heroes>/em> is still the best WWII strategy game, and one of the best strategy games of all time, period.


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