Unity of Command II : nouvelle vidéo

En bref. Croteam diffuse une courte bande-annonce montrant de courts mais jolis extraits de la prometteuse suite de Unity of Command. Vidéo qui aborde le sujet de la suprématie aérienne, évoqué un peu plus en détails dans le communiqué suivant.

En résumé selon le scénario le jeu permettra de simuler des opérations aéroportées, des reconnaissances aériennes, des bombardements en appui ou encore dans une certaine mesure une forme de ravitaillement aérien.

Pour plus d’informations sur Unity of Command 2, dont la sortie devrait avoir lieu durant le troisième trimestre de cette année, soit assez prochainement, voyez les notes de développement sur le blog officiel ainsi que cette page sur Steam.

Si vous ne connaissez pas le jeu, quoique celui-ci aille nettement évoluer avec ce second volet, voyez nos articles : Unity of Command – Black Turn : A Moscou pour Noël … , Unity of Command Red Turn : Pobieda ! Pour la patrie et Staline ! et Unity of Command : Fall Blau 1942, et pour quelques barils de plus …



Death from above

November 1944. The city of Metz, located near the German border, still stands in the way of Allied push across France towards the heart of the Third Reich.

Patton’s Third Army had been fighting fiercely since early September to dislodge the Germans from the heavily fortified city, suffering casualties that approached 50%. Hitler had ordered that the city, and the fortress complex around it, were to “hold at all costs”.

Metz did hold. It was one of the greatest shows of resistance by the Third Reich in World War II.

Eyes on the Sky
That is, of course, until December when the last of the city’s defenders were forced to surrender. To help put things into perspective, Americans had more than 3.500 fighter planes and even more bombers available. Together with the Royal Air Force, the combined Allied air strength on the Western Front was almost 14.000 planes.

Luftflotte 3, protecting the German armies on the Western Front, had less than 600 available aircraft. It’s safe to say that Allied air forces held overwhelming superiority over the Luftwaffe in western Europe. German commanders pleaded with Hitler to allocate at least 700 more planes to the area. There was even talk of Luftwaffe’s secret weapon, one so powerful that it could turn the tide of war: world’s first operational jet fighter!

Messerschmitt 262 jets were real and deadly, but in reality jets were barely operational by the time the Battle of Metz took place and were too few in numbers to make a difference. The rest of the requested planes never arrived.

Even with clear air superiority, the Third Army was still bogged down in the mud, unable to advance. There were several reasons for this:

– P–47’s carried 500-pound bombs that had little effect on reinforced concrete and bunkers around Metz
– Tactical Air Command that supported the Third Army was too dispersed (flying both Metz and Brest, almost 800 kilometers apart)
– Metz would open up a route to Frankfurt and Saar, and the Saar route was a lower priority compared to the lower Rhine and the Ruhr. Ruhr>Saar.
– Finally, and most importantly – the bad weather

It is I, AI!
Unity of Command II takes Allied air superiority into account throughout the campaign. Let’s take a look at the trailer:

As soon as the weather clears, the player is given control over thee off-map tactical air force actions that provide recon, air cover and close tactical support for the attacking units on the ground. Bombers are called into action in the video, but Unity of Command II will feature more aerial actions, such as air reconnaissance. Airdrops will also be available, depending on the scenario, date, and your progress in the campaign. As long as there aren’t any large scale ops, attempts to supplement ground transport with the air transport proved effective on the Western Front and the game will mimic these solutions as well.

The trailer ends with the encirclement of Metz, an outcome that wouldn’t be possible without air support. The enemy counter-attack was fierce and, depending on the difficulty settings, a solid show of what the game’s AI is capable of. Or indeed, what the German generals were capable of.

Shield and Sword
The game’s AI takes into account mission objectives, player’s moves and also consults some of the historical moves before taking action. The brutal panzer counterattack that the AI selected as the best option in the trailer mimics the Schild und Schwert (Shield and Sword) tactic mastered by the best defensive commanders of the Third Reich, and is a precursor of what the Allies will have to endure in the Ardennes in December.

Defensive tactics managed to keep the Third Army at Metz for almost three months, which bought time for Hitler to shore up the Siegfried line where many more lives were lost. Still, was Patton’s decision to order a frontal attack on one of the most heavily fortified cities in Western Europe necessary? What would have happened if the fortress was bypassed? Or was there a way to encircle it and take the city in, shall we say, few turns less? Unity of Command II will be out soon – what will be your strategy for Metz?

A full development update is due next week on our blog (will also be re-posted here on Steam). In the meantime, as usual, feel free to AMA in the comments.