The most welcome addition is the ability to dictate the direction of a unit after movement. Right click dragging displays an arrow which rotates, allowing you to designate the exact direction your unit will face when it gets to the clicked location. This also works for air support, which is a godsend for getting that precise strike you need.
Secondly, every unit is now at-a-glance distinguishable in terms of hostility; a green mouse cursor indicates it’s yours to control, yellow an ally and red a hostile. I’m quite convinced this small feature existed in Phase One, yet it was never pointed out in the tutorial, an omission which hasn’t been repeated this time round. Coupled with the fact that units occasionally get mistaken for one another (at least in my experience), and it’s a handy thing to have.
New features involving the missions include day/night cycles, which makes night combat a common occurrence. Headlights on vehicles are now useable, but do come with a drawback – the enemy can see you coming before you see them, so it’s a matter of limited usefulness. It’s quite possible to switch them on to discover you’re partially surrounded – and no, the enemy won’t go away when you switch them off again!
Stormregion has obviously spent some time developing the plot in Phase Two, and it has been improved in pretty much every way. Cut scenes are now more numerous, which could be viewed as a downside to those playing just to blow things up, but they are of markedly improved quality. Voice acting is now top notch, a fair stride from Phase One, especially so considering Peter Weller (of Robocop fame) has lent his talent to the rather engaging American hero. All three campaigns are glued together with an interesting narrative; although one could point out that the Escape key is preferable upon subsequent viewings.
The nitty-gritty of the game however is in the missions. Completing objectives, destroying the opposition and bringing (nearly) everyone home alive is the aim of the game, and it’s all very well done. It’s enjoyable to orchestrate the annihilation of an armoured column or to hunt dug-in tanks in the desert, just as it is to relish in your mission evaluation when the dust has settled. Once you start playing and get used to the game, despite the minor flaws here and there, nothing gets in the way. Panzers Two is a well structured, satisfying game to play that tries its very best to present everything in a fun yet challenging way.
To stave off any looming thoughts that I’m waiting to drop a bombshell of bad news, I’ll tell you this: there are no disastrous flaws. Just lots of minor ones. The first is the inability to view any details about enemy units. It’s frustrating to send a unit of tanks against what appears to be mobile artillery, only to discover it’s a self-propelled anti-tank gun. It’s also annoying to be unable to see the destination of a unit currently moving, something which should at least be possible in pause mode. This makes intricate movements impossible with a large force, inevitably leading to the demonstration of insufficient path finding routines (again!).