For those fans of the previous war game Second Front from SSI, Inc., the graphical presentation of Western Front: The Liberation of Europe 1944-45 will seem very familiar. As for the interface, the current title introduces full mouse support which makes game play much simpler with an increased comfort factor due to the point and click nature of operations. Speaking of operations, the game undoubtedly will be enjoyed and played to its fullest extent by war gamers who like their simulations to be detailed and time intensive. Even though there are three major scenarios in the game, the full effect of recreating (or changing) history isn't realized unless the campaign mode is invoked. Be warned, however, that playing at the campaign level will take even expert war gamers well over a hundred hours (and quite possibly much longer) to complete the arduous task of running operations from the Normandy invasion through the end of the war.
In what appears to be a disadvantage to the player controlling the German forces, the historically accurate leeching of Western Front troops to shore up Eastern Front shortfalls is handled internally by the program which replicates the problem by simply pulling units at given (but unplanned) times. To help right this situation, the game now features control at the division and brigade level rather than corps level command and gives you an opportunity to rush in reserve troops to fill the potentially devastating gaps caused by this historical attrition. Western Front: The Liberation of Europe 1944-45 is a huge game and the designers have included every major element of war that existed in the theater with the notable addition of intensive and comprehensive amphibious operations. In this turn-based game, time per turn has been compressed to a few days rather than the familiar week-long turns seen in past titles. As mentioned previously, the advent of a mouse interface makes game play smoother and less intrusive and gives you more time to concentrate on the areas of strategic planning and tactical movement instead of wasting time with frustrating keyboard inputs (although keyboard shortcuts are both available and helpful).
For the most part, playing as either Allied or German forces immerses you in warfare up to your neck and requires significant planning time and careful execution. The three main scenarios are Diadem (the Italian aspect), Breakout (which chronicles Patton's move to the Rhine River) and the Ardennes action revolving around Luxembourg and Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge. Again, you get a better feel of involvement by playing the campaign mode although the individual scenarios are interesting in their own right. Albeit massive in scope, Western Front: The Liberation of Europe 1944-45 manages to nail down the essential "feel" necessary for a game of this type to be enjoyable to play. Graphics are not particularly flashy but are suitable for a hex-based war game and the lack of memorable sound or music isn't a distracting factor. Bottom line: the game offers a serious and complex yet gritty and enjoyable experience.