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Partisans 1941

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 19 - 2020

Giving the Nazis a hard time with real-time tactics and stealth.

 
Dropping into World War II and shooting some Nazis is a fairly regular situation for video gamers, but the experiences do have a tendency to be taken from a singular point of view. There are games that put the focus on something other than the British or American efforts, but they are few and far between. Partisans 1941, from Alter Games, is the latest title to give the player a different perspective, having players lead a team of Russian freedom fighters as they harass the Nazi war machine and slow the invasion of the Soviet Union.

 


 
But not only is Partisans 1941 uncommon in its perspective, it also approaches the conflict with stealth and real-time tactics, a genre that always seems to unfairly under-represented in video games. The most recent popular title in this genre would have to be Desperados III, and anyone who played the wild west adventure will have a rough idea of what to expect in Partisans 1941.

 
Partisans 1941 is set during the early months of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi campaign to invade and conquer at least part of Russia. Players will start off with Commander Zorin, a former captain of the Red Army that has now found himself in a Nazi prison camp. Playing the part of the tutorial, this sequence will see Zorin escape the prison camp and start to set up a resistance camp with other freedom fighters, all ready to start giving the Nazis a hard time. As a tutorial, this early part of the game does a good job of explaining the mechanics while also setting the scene for the upcoming daring missions.

 


 
On the subject of setting the scene, the visuals in Partisans 1941 are something of a mixed bag. The top-down isometric viewpoint gives the player plenty of detail to take in across the varied missions, but the muted colour scheme leaves everything feeling quite bland. Made up mostly of browns and greys, the colour scheme doesn’t help, but it makes sense given the setting of the game. The actual detail is quite good though and there are some nice visual touches in the game. It is just a matter of getting past the dull colour scheme.

 
The gameplay comes in two parts, with the largest part being made up of the tactical stealth missions. The missions may begin with simple objectives, such as destroying some supplies, but as the player progresses through the game, the missions will become more important and more complex. With up to three characters that the player can choose from their resistance group, the player will guide them into the area containing the objective, or objectives and is given the freedom of how they approach things from there.

 
Stealth is a large part of the game, and players will find themselves hiding their team as they move them closer to their objective, while trying to silently take down or distract any guards that block the way. Each enemy has a cone of awareness that tactical players will recognise. This has to be avoided in order to remain unseen, but the guards are also aware of sound and even things that look out of place. This will leave players with an uphill battle when it comes to staying unseen. While a thrown knife will make a quick and quiet end to a guard, the sound of the body falling to the ground may still alert other guards, and not hiding the body afterwards is sure to attract attention.

 


 
So the stealth can be a bit tricky in Partisans 1941, but being revealed doesn’t mean the end of the mission. The game is quite happy for players to indulge in a bit of gun play alongside the stealth. With each different character having their own specialities and improving as they gain experience, with their own skill trees to work through, and a variety of traps and the like that the characters can take into missions, the combat situations are actually quite exciting. Being the resistance, ammunition can be quite scarce and so the characters will have to make each shot count and rely on the traps and the like in order to succeed. When it all kicks off, controlling three characters can be stressful, but a quick press of the space bar will slow everything down to make issuing orders easier.

 
When the player is not out on missions, they will be back at their camp for some management. This aspect of the game is not as involving as in some other games, but it still gives the player a break from the tension while also allowing the player to get to know their resistance members a bit better. They may have to end off members of the group to scavenge more equipment, or take on special non-playable missions. Or they might start building and upgrading the camp to provide more services. Like I say it is not the most involving, but it is well done.

 
With the visuals aside, Partisans 1941 does have a few other areas that may cause problems for players. The stealth side of the game is very difficult, largely due to detection irregularities. Sometimes an enemy may spot one of the team from an unfeasibly long way away, or have superhuman hearing. Other times , they seem oblivious. Fortunately being spotted doesn’t mean the end of the mission and getting a win from what starts as a fail is incredibly empowering. There are also some UI quirks that will frustrate some, such as the inventory swapping. However, these rough edges are all things that the player will get used to in time and don’t make much of a dent in the enjoyment of the game.

 


 
Being that games in this genre don’t come along too often, it is good to know that Partisans 1941 works perfectly well and offers an enjoyable experience. There may be some rough edges and the aesthetic is slightly dull, but approaching missions from different directions and using the tools at hand to pull off a real-time tactical success is great fun. Fans of the genre should pick up the game and start harassing those Nazis.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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