World War II Online (WWIIOL) is a massively multiplayer on-line combat simulator from Playnet. It is a half-scale map of Europe upon which thousands of players fight it out to capture towns and control points. It is very detailed and involved. You can play various forms of infantrymen (rifleman, sapper, sniper, machinegunner, etc.), operate various tanks and armored vehicles, operate aircraft (various fighters and bombers), operate ships (destroyers, patrol craft, etc.), and drive various troop-transport vehicles.
This game is for people who want lots of realism in a WWII combat simulation. It is not for people who want Quake-like action. In WWIIOL, it can take some thought to figure out which mission to accept in order to get into combat action, and it can take time to get into combat action, like 15 minutes -- or more -- of jogging, driving, or flying. It has a steep learning curve. Also, since your enemies are not tagged with bright-red icons and since there are often lots of bushes, tree lines, hilly terrain, buildings, and rubble to hide in, it is often difficult to spot enemies. For new players, it is not uncommon to spend a lot of time running or driving toward a combat area only to be killed with one shot from an enemy you didn't even see. This is one of the frustrating parts of WWIIOL -- but if in real life you went running toward an area where soldiers were dug in or concealed and waiting for you, you would get mowed down right away, too. On the strictly positive side, WWIIOL gives a very realistic feel to the terrain and combat environment.
If you want more intantaneous action at the expense of realism, I suggest Battlefield 1942. In Bf1942, my main criticism is that I absolutely despise the way aircraft are implemented. I think that they are unbalancing and often greatly reduce the fun for anyone except those in planes. Also, I don't like to fly the planes in Bf1942 because the flight model is so bad and the interface so unrealistic and arcade-game-like that I don't want to contaminate my technique for far-superior, realistic flight sims like Aces High.
I am new to WWIIOL. It seems like this game has awesome potential, but the company has done an inept job at making the game interfaces and documentation accessible to and suitable for new players. It's frustrating because a lot of it would be so easy to fix. Here is a guide on how to set up the game and how to get started. Here is a summary of the keys used in WWIIOL, since I haven't found any such summary sheet available elsewhere.
by Brooke P. Anderson
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