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Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942 review

And the lead’s not too happy either

Note that last one. Steel Fury doesn’t go in for ego-massaging or hand-holding. This is a true sim and, initially at least, a fairly confusing one. Some of the confusion comes from small tutorial bugs (already fixed by an unofficial patch), some stems from the unexpected fineness of the detail. After several days of play we still couldn’t tell you the difference between an F-350 and an OF-350 (two of the T-34’s five shell types) or explain the subtleties of the various sights. Is it better to communicate with fellow tanks via flags or flares? Haven’t a clue, comrade.

One thing days of tense tank combat has taught us is that the Kharkov countryside, though picturesque, does grow wearisome after a while. Graviteam’s choice of focus – the Second Battle of Kharkov – means we don’t get any urban maps, snow or sand. We’d pay good money to see the engine at work in France or Tunisia. If the makers can’t manage it, then fingers crossed the modders will. Creative souls have already added driveable half-tracks and SPGs.

Maybe modders can also do something with the three campaigns. Currently they’re nothing more than sequenced missions – no branching, no strat map, no crew management. Replay potential is boosted by random unit placement and the option to play from any crew position, but an IL-2 style DCG wouldn’t go amiss. Ah, IL-2. The parallels are too striking to ignore. An obscure Russian dev produces a very real, very vivid WWII sim with a weak solo campaign. Let’s pray Steel Fury grows and improves the way Oleg’s classic has. For starters, let’s have some female tank crews in the next instalment.

Mar 4, 2009

More Info


Ultra realistic graphics and dramatic battles keep this tank sim replayable long after you've mastered its steep learning curve.

UK censor rating16+
Release date (US), 11 November 2008 (UK)