Steel Fury – Kharkov 1942 – PC Game Preview
Steel Fury – Kharkov PC Game Preview.
Steel Fury is a serious simulator, and not an arcade twitch-fest.
Only a tanker can really know the pure joy of 30 tons of hardened steel sloshing through muddy fords, smashing through small buildings and knocking over trees and fences with abandon. But for those of us who don’t drive these beasts for a living, we will soon have Steel Fury – Kharkov 1942, to make our tank fantasies come true. A month before it’s release by Lighthouse Interactive, ArmchairGeneral.com took a preview test drive of this exciting tank combat simulator.
The first thing players will notice about Steel Fury is the near-total suspension of disbelief. The lush rolling hills around Kharkov are a visual feast, well seasoned with realistic lighting and dust effects. The forests are full of individual trees that can be knocked down with leafy crunches. Buildings can be driven into, with walls cracking and falling. The complex environment is alive with smoke, infantry firefights, tank duels, debris, and even mud flying from rolling tank treads.
The sounds also pull you in. The player’s tank growls and clunks as gears change to cross a deep ditch. The main gun breech closes with a metallic clank, as the gunner announces that an HE round is loaded. Outside, bullets and shrapnel ping against the steel hull. On the horizon, artillery crumphs in the distance. In Steel Fury, "all is never quiet on the Eastern Front."
The player’s tank is also a virtual wonder. The game comes with three drivable tanks, each brought to life in full 3D glory. The German Pzkw IV, the lend-lease Matilda, and an early T-34/76 are all modeled with loving hands. From the outside, the tanks have divisional markings and periscopes; they belch diesel smoke and have every rivet and bolt modeled. The tanks also have complete 3D interiors. Looking around the cramped battle stations will give almost anyone a claustrophobic urge to open the hatches and gasp for some virtual air.
During battles, the player can take over any of the crew positions. Functional periscopes, view ports and sights work like the real thing. But the only way to really see the battlefield is by opening the hatch to pop your head out, which makes death from stray bullets or shrapnel a real possibility. Once players learn the positions, they will gravitate to the commander’s seat. From there, they can call out targets, select ammunition, and tell the driver where to go.
Even driving takes skill since the tanks move and drive like the real thing. Drivers must choose gears and the vehicle’s path carefully. Just like real terrain, there are always minor dips, and driving up a steep slope is certain to bring the tank to a crawl. The virtual ground beneath the tank also feels real; treads will even slip a little in muddy fields.
Sometimes the physics engine seems overdone. For example, tanks can fish-tail when going down a muddy slope. That’s logical, but they seem to spin like a NASCAR racer with a blowout rather than sliding like the tanks I’ve seen fish-tail in real life. Likewise, when infantry is hit, their weapons fly high in the air, then bounce rubber-like against the ground. These don’t have major effect on gameplay and, hopefully, will be tweaked before release.
For those who think that changing gears should be strictly for the NASCAR crowd, an auto-transmission is available. In fact, like any good simulator, many of the more mundane tasks can be automated. But the player can customize his game experience, and the hardcore player can choose to do everything himself.
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