*Concept art is from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
The Second World War
The Second World War was the seminal conflict of the 20th century, whose echoes of brutality, inhumanity, and despair are still heard to this very day all across the globe. World War II was the last conflict between world powers where a thin veil of technological achievement, industrial might, and military leadership separated victory and defeat.
The Second World War was the seminal conflict of the 20th century, whose echoes of brutality, inhumanity, and despair are still heard to this very day all across the globe. It was the last time the world greatest superpowers faced each other openly, where the thin veil of technological achievement, industrial might, and military leadership separated victory and defeat. The sheer, unimaginable scale of the conflict lends itself to endless debates on geopolitics, military doctrine, and social impacts. The grandiose battles of yore are still alive and well in our collective memory, with those whose inestimable participation in the long train of History still living amongst us. The invasion of Poland saw the rise of the blitzkrieg. The attack on Pearl Harbor set the Pacific aflame with the World’s two largest maritime powers facing off in epic displays of admiralship where carriers were kings. The crumbling of France showcased their ineptitude to adapt and innovate on the battlefield. And the rescue at Dunkirk denoted the sheer power of will the British had to keep on fighting, to go on to the end and never surrender.
The North African campaign witnessed the scuffle between the “Desert Fox” and the “Desert Rats”. The landings in Italy and France opened up a new front, effectively closing any avenues for a German victory. At last, to the East, german and Russian men stained the ground red with blood, from the wheat fields of Ukraine to the frozen outskirts of Moscow, then all the way back to Berlin. The War was a clash of larger-than-life personalities on both sides: Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Patton, Erwin Rommel, Bernard Montgomery, D. Dwight Eisenhower, Friedrich Paulus, Von Manstein, Georgy Zhukov, Semyon Timoshenko, Douglas MacArthur, and so many others. In the end, new technological limits were shattered, frontiers changed and the balance of power swiveled from old Europe to America, and almost 80 million human beings lost their lives.
Criteria and Genres
The gaming sphere has been a prolific one when it comes to portraying the Second World War. The scale, the military doctrine, the battlefield innovations, the variety of scenarios and theatres of war, the endless tactical, operational, and strategical possibilities, the discussions around the “what if” scenarios, and the human drama and all lend World War 2 an aura of interest and mystique. Having played more games about WWII than I can remember, creating a list is a challenge and some limitations had to be put in place. Here’s how these games were chosen:
Historical Accuracy and Authenticity– More than anything else, an accurate, or at least authentic representation of the historical events. Plausible “what if” scenarios are okay, but Call of Duty zombies and Wolfenstein’s paranormal are where the line is drawn.
Relevancy to today’s gaming scene – Not all games are created equal, and some stand the test of time way better than others. Some classics will feature, some will be absent. In those specific cases, more modern alternatives will be showcased.
Mechanical Importance – A game is only as good as the challenge it presents and the mechanics with which one can interact with it. Most importantly, how those mechanics come together to make the specific challenges of World War 2 come to life, be it on the strategic, operational, and tactical planes.
Genre – Games can fall under several categories at the same time and most of these distinctions are so surface level that discussing them won’t even make sense. What’s important is that this list will feature a bit of everything, from the classical hex-based, classical counter-pushing experience, to first-person shooters and everything in between. Limited to one entry per franchise! No War In The East, War In The East 2, War In the West in this list.
Other similar games – Games that are similar to the one showcased. Usually refers to other entries of the same series.
These games are ranked in no particular order! So, if I’ve missed something, please let me know in the comments down below what you would like to see added to this list.