When Mariya Oktyabrskaya’s husband was killed in 1941, she didn’t sit around the house moping about it. She enrolled in the Tomsk tank academy, became a T-34 driver and went off to pulverise fascists. We were reminded of the marvellous Mariya’s most famous escapade earlier this afternoon. Trundling through the gardens of a Ukrainian village, our T-34 (one of a trio of tank types crewable in this splendid WWII armour sim) came face-to-face with a dug-in German AT gun. The gun was too low for us to take a shot, so we rammed it, grinding weapon and crew into the soft spring mud.
Steel Fury is good at delivering dramatic, resonant moments like this. It might lack skirmish and multiplayer modes and have a campaign system as rudimentary as they can get, but when it comes to communicating the flavour of a WWII tank battle, you’ll struggle to find better.
So what is the flavour of a WWII tank battle? Well, it’s a Molotov cocktail of things. The panic that courses through you when you realise you’ve strayed into the middle of an occupied enemy trench network; the despair of sitting with a thrown track and an empty AP shell rack as predatory Panzers close in; it’s the deeply dark satisfaction of mowing down fleeing infantry with your coax MG; and the pleasure of executing a successful flanking manoeuvre; it’s willing your loader to load faster; it’s getting killed yet again by a shell slinger you never even saw.