Classified France ’44 Review | PC

Despite its fictional story, Classified France ‘44 immerses players in combat and forces them to think outside the box.

By DShelley, Posted 28 Feb 2024

World War II was arguably one of the darkest times in human history when numerous countries came together to fight the scourge of Nazi Germany. Despite what some may think, being in actual combat is far from glorious; it's bloody, grueling, and unpredictable, and it makes sense that such an intense scenario would be the basis for a game such as Classified France '44, which sees you play through a fictional story but engaging with the many real dangers soldiers would have faced.

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

Now, who exactly is behind Classified France '44? Well, it is none other than Absolutely Games, a studio you probably haven't heard about, as this developer was only founded in 2019 and consists of a small team of only 25 people. Their studio is based in Guildford, UK, a lovely little town home to many cafés and shops, and just so happens to be the biggest gaming hub in the UK. 

While you may not know about Absolutely Games, you may be familiar with the publisher of Classified France '44, Team 17. So far, Team 17 has quite an impressive roster of games under their belt, heck in 2023 alone, they published some of our favorite games such as Gord, Killer Frequency, Dredge, and, of course, Blasphemous 2. It's safe to say that with such an impressive track record, Classified France '44 fits perfectly in Team 17's roster, as this is definitely another gem.

As mentioned before, Classified France '44 follows the fictional story of a group of Allied soldiers who have been dropped into France to help the French resistance for a classified mission, hence the game's title. Your team is known as the Jedburghs and consists of Tom King, a British soldier who has a knack for explosives and witty banter; Vincent, who acts as your scout and is equipped with a powerful sniper rifle; and last but not least, Willard Cassady, the leader of the team who has taken on the task of fighting against the Nazis as a self-imposed mission from God. Willard will also act as the story's narrator.

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

Together these three men must help strengthen the French Resistance and chase back the Nazis, that is, until they get separated. This also leads into the game's rather extensive tutorial, which is surprisingly in-depth as it introduces each and every new mechanic. Turn-based strategy games can be a bit overwhelming for beginners, but Classified France '44 does a great job at introducing the game's mechanics without overwhelming you, but also showing different ways you can turn the tide of battle and become a real war hero.

A central focus of Classified France '44 is its combat. Like in most turn-based strategy games, you will be able to move your units across a grid, and how far your units will be able to travel is dictated by the number of APs (action points) that unit has. Incidentally, AP is also what your unit will need to perform attacks, but we'll get into that a bit later. Various landmarks and obstacles are dotted around the environmental grid, such as crumbling walls and crates. 

These obstacles will also act as cover. Now, there are two types of cover: Partial Cover, which is any cover that only partially covers a unit; when you are behind Partial Cover, there is still a chance of you getting hit by enemy attacks. However, you won't take the full brunt of the attack, and there is still a chance you won't take any damage whatsoever. The other type of cover is Full Cover; unlike Partial Cover when a unit is behind full cover, they are entirely protected from incoming attacks. Though using Full is ideal, it is constantly far and in between, meaning it should only be utilized when a unit is vulnerable or injured.

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

Another form of cover you can use comes in the form of bushes. When in a bush, a unit is completely hidden, allowing them to use stealth attacks to easily dispose of enemies if they're standing near the shrubbery. Just keep in mind that while they are Stealth attacks, they still make a noise, which will cause nearby enemy units to investigate. Unfortunately, this isn't Assassin's Creed, meaning you will likely discover that this will alert all units to your location. You can still use this to your advantage, as while the enemy is distracted, you can easily pick them off with another unit.

If stealth isn't your cup of tea and you want something a little more attention-grabbing, you can always use your helpful hand grenade. These guys are great for clearing out large groups of enemies or taking out obstacles such as vehicles and barricades. While they aren't the quietest way to dispose of enemies, they certainly are effective, especially when you use the right type for the right situation. Grenades come in a wide variety of types; initially, in Classified France '44, you will start with your standard hand grenade, but then you will gain access to sticky grenades, which, while having a smaller range, work better to take out vehicles and explosive satchels, which work best for clearing out buildings. Each grenade type is situational, so choose wisely.

While this is nice and all, it's time to finally delve into actual gun combat. As mentioned before, your team comprises many different characters, all with their combat specialties and skills. These skills require AP to perform them. However, some abilities can only be performed if a unit is equipped with a certain weapon; for example, only snipers can utilize a critical attack. Unlike in most games, in Classified France '44, units have access to two different types of weapons: their primary weapon and a hip pistol. Your hip pistol will come surprisingly in handy; while it isn't the strongest weapon in direct combat, it is excellent in stealth scenarios, and not to mention, if you're low on AP because it is cheaper to use than your primary weapon, the hip pistol can help you get out of a tight situation.

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

Another thing that sets Classified France '44 apart from other games in the genre is that you won't just manage your unit's Health and AP; you will also manage their Morale. This is represented by the blue bar under the unit Health. Morale can either make or break a fight, as when Morale drops below 50%, a unit becomes Suppressed; this means they are now more likely to miss and take more damage. If a unit's Morale drops below 80%, a unit will become Broken; this means that they will likely skip their turn until Morale is restored. Keep in mind it's entertaining to see your enemies whimper in German, as what can happen to them can happen to you.

Having one's Morale broken isn't the only thing you need to worry about, as units can become incapacitated when their Health reaches 0. Luckily, they won't die, but they will be unable to fight for the next three turns. If the unit survives for those three turns, it will recover and can once again join the fight; if they don't, unfortunately, they will leave combat and be unable to fight for the rest of the battle. Luckily, you can also help a downed unit by having an ally patch them up. However, they will be injured, which means they will have to leave combat the next time they are downed.

Preparing for a mission is just as important as the strategy you will utilize while in combat. Classified France '44 has three different types of missions: Assault, Ambush, and Stealth. Assault missions are when you don't have a chance to sneak up on enemies and thin the herd quietly. Ambush missions, on the other hand, let you sneak around and perform as many stealth attacks as possible before the Ambush meter runs out and you are forced to engage in combat. Lastly, Stealth missions give players unlimited stealth moves, and they don't have to worry about an Ambush meter so that they can perform stealth kills to their heart's content. 

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

If you can complete a mission and depending on how well you did, you will be rewarded with new gear and equipment to change your unit's loadout. As mentioned before, each unit is unique, and they all have strengths and weaknesses, so it is recommended that you prepare for missions beforehand in Basecamp. Once you're in Basecamp, you can regain lost Morale by allowing units to talk and tell stories; these vary from mission to mission and add a nice touch of life to these characters. You will also be able to see the various factions fighting in the war as well as their strength and your relationship with them.

Most of the missions you encounter in Classified France '44 will mainly focus on the game's story, and you will also get various side missions. These usually earn you and your units more XP and more equipment, but occasionally, you will also gain a new character to add to your ranks. The characters of Classified France '44 are a massive highlight of the game. All the characters are excellently voice-acted and feel like real people reacting to what's happening around them. They are all incredibly charming and feel uniquely distinct; from King's unique flavor of English humor to Willard's biblical ramblings, every character is fully fleshed out and distinct.

That's not to say that Classified France '44 only has excellent voice acting, as the rest of the game's sound design is in a league of its own. Explosions feel punchy, and the sound of gunfire feels crisp and impactful; even your character's footsteps sound good. There is just so much polish put into the game's sound design that shows just how much time and effort was put into the game by Absolutely Games and that there is a bright future for this budding studio.

Classified France ‘44, Review, Screenshots, Turn-Based, Strategy, Historical, NoobFeed

Overall, Classified France '44 is just an incredibly well-rounded experience. While the scenario is entirely fictional, the characters feel like real people. The game features a distinct level of polish seen throughout, from environments to sound design; a lot of effort has been put into this game. However, despite the game's in-depth tutorial, it isn't exactly for beginners or newcomers to the turn-based strategy genre. 

Daman Shelley (@UndeadandTired)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): Team17
Developer(s): Absolutely Games
Genres: Real-Time Strategy
Themes: Strategy, History
Release Date: 2024-02-28

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