Last August when we first reviewed it, Combat Mission caused a bit of a stir on the Internet. A 3D WWII turn-based strategy game that looked stunning (and played well too) was a rare thing indeed. The only drawback was its hefty price tag (US$45), and the fact you could only buy it online. Seven months later, and things have changed somewhat - a new publisher, a reworked graphics engine and a second CD full of missions and utilities. But is it any cop?
The graphics engine is now all smoke, explosions and some very realistic models. However, while the game’s designers may be artists, they still need to learn about code optimisation. Running the game on a Voodoo 5500 caused the graphics to 'white out’ during large intensive scenarios. Turning the chip down to a low performance setting fixed the problem, but you lose most of the effects. The second CD is an excellent addition, and extends the life of the game tenfold. But the front end is unhelpful at best, with no hot links or installers for the software, and scant instructions on how to do it manually. Expect to do a lot of CD swapping and buggering about. And sadly, despite all this, the developers still haven’t got a descent campaign mode worked in: it’s still all just single scenarios.
Overall the game has improved with numerous tweaks to Al pathing, control interface and gameplay. Although it’s not a classic, it’s still a must for any discerning strategy fan, and as a whole, the package is a definite improvement since the last time we cast our eyes over it.
Download Combat Mission
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
With the third instalment of Combat Mission just out the timing's perfect for Xplosiv to reissue the original game for just a fiver. And if you're hew to the series, we recommend this, the first game, which is nigh on identical to the latest one.
Using what was a fairly revolutionary turn-based and real-time game system (you take turns to issue orders to your units and then watch them being carried out in real-time), Combat Mission seriously set PC war-gamers astir on its release in 2000.
Its once impressive 3D engine looks ropey by today's standards and the game requires some serious devotion to master. But that doesn't stop this from being the most realistic tactical WWII strategy game that's ever been produced.
From the way orders take time to filter down from your HQ to individual squads, to the way troops panic, rout and desert when put in untenable situations, this /s WWII. Witness the armour penetrations of all the weapons in the game and the exhaustive roster of real-life tanks, halftracks and armoured cars. There's been nothing since the much-missed Close Combat series that can hold a candle to Combat Mission's grasp on WWII reality.
Granted, it's too involved and too timeconsuming for most gamers. But that's the great thing about releases at this price - other than a measly fiver, what have you got to lose by giving it a go?
It's sad to say that the days of going to your local boozer and being accosted by a drunken old bloke who starts to recount, "when I was in the war..are gone. No honestly. However, all is not lost because now you can play Combat Mission and then go to the pub and bore others instead. It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it. Set in Europe after the 1944 D-Day landings, the game puts you in charge of either the Allies or the Axis - in a fight to the death. Did we say it was turn-based and not RTS? Looking at the screen shots you'd be forgiven for assuming the game is a WWII CSC clone, but it isn't. And what's more the game has broken the two unwritten rules of all WWII Strategy games:
1 - Thou shalt always use hex's
2 - Thy graphics engine shall be created from Beelzebub's arse.
Combat Mission makes a refreshing change as it is in spinny-rotaty-3D (as opposed to the usual top-down crap) and uses a tile format.
But eye candy alone does not a good game make. The developers have taken this to heart, as the game is accurate in terms of the troops and equipment available. German Tigers vs British Commandos? No Problem. The only major downside is that the campaign modes are way too easy to complete.
This game is a major step forward, although, even on a high-spec machine, the engine struggles when you play the gigantic maps with loads of units.