War is hell, for sure. By the time you’ve been mercilessly pummeled into fine bits of dust for the umpteenth consecutive time - no matter which side you play as - you’ll be convinced that Blitzkrieg 2: Fall of the Reich was created simply to destroy any sense of military smarts your evidently feeble mind can dream up. Yes, it's that hard.
Fall takes place in the waning months of the Second World War, featuring such exotic battles as the fight for Budapest and Operation Bagration. Never heard of them? We’re not surprised, but just about every other scenario’s been covered in earlier Blitzkrieg iterations. We've got to believe that the lack of compelling theaters of war drove publisher CDV to up the ante from a challenge perspective. Until now, the series hasn’t been known as an ass-whomping torturefest; perhaps they’ve run out of other ideas.
Choosing to wage war as the Russians or Germans seems to make no difference when you’re executing your strategy; whatever nation you fight seems much better armed and positioned than you. Despite the fact that by mid-1944 the Russians had every advantage - more armor, more troops, fighting one enemy instead of two - you’ll face almost impossible odds when attacking the Nazis (although it works the same when you command the Wehrmacht). Small-caliber cannon will obliterate your powerful tanks while your foot soldiers get chopped to pieces by invisible artillery, causing you to fail repeatedly until luck finally intervenes.
To be sure, the maps, armor, and associated troops all look and sound terrific once the battles have commenced, and there’s an extraordinary range of units available. Missions don’t have a tremendous amount of variety though, as most involve an eventual attack on a centralized location where the enemy is entrenched and pissed the hell off. Overall, there are two major campaigns with sixteen battles, a solid enough amount of content for a $30 stand-alone game built on a mature gameplay engine.
Vets of the franchise will likely be taken aback by how brutal it is to achieve a victory in even the early skirmishes, while newcomers won’t have a clue how to do much of anything. Heck, even the tutorials are rough. For our money, you’re better off hitting up the earlier franchise titles for a more balanced and fun armchair general experience. Only the most dedicated strategy fanatics will have a shot at victory in Fall of the Reich; chances are that mere RTS mortals can’t win this war.