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Publisher: Strategy First    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G4    RAM: 256 MB

World War II Online
April 11, 2003 | Chris Ritchie

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History is constantly redefined by events happening both before and after the event, the popular lexicon of information (movies, television, video games) constantly serves to reshape the public's perception and interest into a phase of history. In recent years World War II has become a staple of the entertainment industry, countless movies, documentaries and games have been forged from the fires of this conflict, thus, historical accuracy is not something that can be used to gauge anything originated in our current cultural sphere. Cornered Rat Software, the creators of the latest Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game MMORPG to arrive on the Mac platform tends to sacrifice entertainment and gameplay for the mythical phantom of historical realism.

WWIIO has had a checkered path within the video game industry itself. When the game was first announced approximately 4 years ago the game had tremendous potential. MMORPG's were still in their infancy and primarily dominated by mythical fantasy adventures, games not suitable for those interested in a more "realistic" environment. In concept the game was to be dynamic, the much-lauded list of features for the game was commendable: half scale map of Europe, player ranking system, and a host of land, sea and infantry vehicles to help the players wage virtual warfare in a war-wracked European landscape. Unfortunately, the scope of the game proved to be just a little too much for the current technology and creative potential (a.k.a. investors) to handle. After completing the project, Corned Rat released the first version of the game to the PC world in 2001.

While some will say that Anarchy Online's initial release was more problematic, WWIIO would come in a close second. The game required hundreds of MB of patches to even be able to get online, and once in, the game still had uncountable bugs and problems, all promised to be fixed in later releases. Yet, with the recent release for the Mac, Cornered Rat hoped to redeem itself for its past failures, and bring an under-represented demographic of gamers into their fold. On the positive side, all the promised features for the game are still intact and many of the original release bugs have been fixed, allowing the game to be playable, yet the game lacks a sense of organization, and can leave those gamers looking for a quick Nazi-blasting fix out in the cold.

Installation, Registration, and Patching
The basic installation of this game is simple; it runs like any other standard installation and should not be any big deal for someone accustomed to the Mac interface. However, registration, payment and the eventually required patching all take an extended period of time, making it almost impossible to be installed and playing within 5 minutes. The full update for the Macintosh weighs in at about 60 MB, a file which must be downloaded and installed before any type of meaningful gameplay can start. It is a good idea that while the patch is downloading, you register yourself for the game. While providing a credit card is one option to begin your 30 day free trial, Playnet offers alternative payment options. Also, any user with a valid retail CD-KEY can create an account, provide payment information and enter the game without a waiting period for billing verification. If a problem with billing is found, the user is contacted via e-mail at a later time.

Starting the Game
One of the strangest aspects to the whole game is that it is all controlled from web sites (in fact, you actually launch the game from a link on a page). When you start the game, you choose your side for the war, Axis or Allies. This choice can be made arbitrarily, but it is vitally important that you understand teamwork to be the fundamental underpinning of this game. The game is ostensibly run by the High Command (Axis and Ally), they are players who have gained enough rank to become generals in their respective army, and are then given the power of mission creation. The generals in the army must have knowledge of strategy and battle plans, as they are the ones leading the troops into battle. It is an innovative system, and one of the few aspects of the game that has future potential. The game is literally shaped by the players, the virtual battlefield has been created, but the soldiers themselves have the true power to determine whom the victor will be.


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