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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 17:02 GMT
Online battle commences
World War II Online
World War II Online has got rid of its initial problems
By the BBC's Damian O'Neil

The electronic battlefield is the Holy Grail of developers, publishers and war game fans everywhere.

Most games allow you to play one part of the bigger picture - for example, pilot or soldier.

But a true electronic battlefield game lets you play any of them, and against other human players, in a persistent online world which keeps going even when you switch off.

Enter World War II Online. The bugs which hampered the game at launch have been largely squashed and it is now what it should have been at release.

There is even better news. A two-week free demonstration of the game has just been made available online.

This means you see what you are getting before you spend any money. It is a very hefty download - over 100 MB - but it is also available on CD-Rom.

World War II Online
You can transport the troops to the frontline
You can choose to play for the Axis or the Allies, in a virtual world which models most of Europe.

When you log into the game, you are presented with a map which shows the towns, villages and strategic choke points held by your side.

You then choose the role you want to play. You can elect to be an infantryman, a truck driver whose job it is to transport the troops to the front line, a tank commander, artillery operator or pilot.

Some of the units can be multi-crewed; certain tanks and aircraft are more effective with dedicated drivers and gunners, for example.

Initially, it can be confusing. If you "spawn" in the wrong place, you can spend a long time running around towns and open fields without seeing another soul.


However, once you understand how the mission system works, it will not take long to get yourself into the thick of the action.

As in real warfare, the objective is to take and hold ground. This is achieved by capturing strategic positions, moving forward to the next town, and defending your territory against counterattack.

This makes for a very fluid front line, as a recently-captured town can be easily lost if not enough attention is paid to defence.

As in any strategy game, the side which best organises itself will always prevail.

Communication between you and other players is handled through an onscreen chat box, and you can "tune" your frequency to your particular squad.

If you enjoy the two-week trial, you will have to buy a boxed version and pay a monthly subscription to continue playing.

World War II Online is not perfect, but when at its best, there is no game to touch it in terms of teamwork and satisfaction. The electronic battlefield has arrived.

This multiplayer only wargame is now available in PC CD-ROM format. All the details regarding the two week demonstration can be found at

See also:

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