Battle Isle was a hit in the German speaking countries and had already received two expansion packs. It therefore suggested itself to transfer concept and technology to other scenarios and push them to the market. How about replacing science fiction with a historical conflict? World War 2 always being a difficult subject for German companies, the time machine was set a bit further towards the first one.
That one is primarily remembered for three things: trench warfare, chemical warfare and first relevant introduction of new weapon types, such as airplanes, tanks and submarines. Chemical warfare, yuck! Don't get burned by that! How about the first item? Permanent standstill, lots and lots of bloodshed fighting for few metres? Doesn't sound like something which will find a large target audience.
This leaves technical advancements in the course of the war, which indeed introduces some variety into. Where the initial battles are all about infrantry, cavallery and artillery, early airborne fighters and bombers soon mix things up. On Entente side, tanks join soon after. Such aspects receive much stronger attention and relevance than in real history, but for good gameplay reasons.
Specifically, this divides the scenarios into different phases accounting for different speeds of developing new technologies on both sides. The axis have air superiority for a long time thanks to their Fokkers, but on ground, they only have their heavy artillery standing against the tanks.
Talking about artillery, this is where the trustedphase system continues to shine. Turns being split into movement and attack phases, the medium and heavy guns take a full turn to get ready after movement. Thinking ahead is therefore even more important for them, because you really want them to still have good targets in range when finally ready and you don't want them to waste their shells on already escaped or destroyed enemy units.
This sort of tactical specialties are quite necessary to keep up motivation, however, because Blue Byte handled the war with kid gloves. Historical battles set in real places cannot be fought. Instead, you act on anonymous battlefields on which, according to the thick manual, the overall course of war is not decided. Whether you win or lose will not be reported in the nicely designed newspaper articles shown after the scenario. Instead, they talk about the way things went in the real world. Considering even Panzer General (which allowed changing history) was banned from regular sales in Germany shortly after, likely a good decision from a commercial point of view.
Back on the topic of the manual, there is quite a bit of production value accompanying. Archive photos show units in-game, but also inside the printed “weapons book”, listing all the relevant technical data per unit. The newspaper articles don't restrict themselves to the big picture of front lines, but even include small snippets such as sports results.
At the game's core, most of the system's known weaknesses remain. Specifically, an artificial intelligence is practically absent in serious terms. The computer controlled enemies rely on frontal attacks, not even considering differences in unit speed, therefore failing to launch a concerted offense. In spite of unlimited resources income over time, it constructs mostly useless new units. Switching to defense, for each scenario, there seems to be a small set of units hardcoded to defend the headquarters. The only danger for human players stems from the initial strong superiority in numbers. It is quite telling that although maps are reused when replaying the same scenario on the other side, but unit setup is not. Given a balanced starting point, the computer would never stand a chance.
In any case, most scenarios don't actually give the impression of strongly tactical warfare. The winning challenge is rather puzzle-like. Although you move virtual figures around representing military units, the key to victory is efficient movement in the first few turns. Planning this, there is usually exactly one “correct” way which the developers had in mind, as evidenced by exactly counted distances etc. Reading the battlefield correctly and realizing this intended plan, there is little risk of failure.
Trench warfare being impossible where artificial intelligence is involved, a couple of game options turn downright absurd. There is a depot construction unit, in order to have another location to repair units. Also, there are engineer units which can dig trenches. Though the front line is never stable long enough for this to make sense (save for very exceptions).
Theoretically invisible units such as submarines also cannot really be handled by the game engine. First, the split screen discloses their position anyway, though even resisting the lure to spy and also avoiding unintentionally catching something from the corner of one's eye, at the very latest, when moving your own ships, you will see which hexes are not available. Hm, “maybe” there is something already there, eh? On top, the somewhat efficient, but quite archaic joystick/keyboard controls certainly also wasn't up to date with player expectations anymore by late 1992.
Considering all, it is quite understandable that just the following year, Battle Isle 2 went different ways. Nevertheless, it is a pity thatwas not further developed on that new baseline. Beyond the overdone second world war, there could have been potential for more. After all, personal thematic preferences within the target audience are manifold.