Combat Mission is a not a new game in the true sense of the meaning. In the early part of 2000 the game became available to order off the developer's website. CDV, who over the last couple of years have become synonymous with top notch strategy games, realised the potential of the game and obtained the right to publish the game. Not only have CDV brought us the full version of Combat Mission but they have also included the best mods, that the Internet has to offer, on a bonus CD.
OK so we know that the game has got a high reputation but why? Well traditional wargames are as dry as a bone. They are usually 2D, rubbish graphics and hex aplenty affairs with about as much charm as a rattlesnake. It is a genre where only keen enthusiasts need normally apply. However, Combat Mission not only includes all the depth and detail of these games but it also succeeds in appealing to general gamer because of the new and refreshing way that it is presented.
Key differences that Combat Mission has over other wargames include 3D graphics and a new, hybrid turn system. The 3D graphics are important for the functionality they allow rather than their beauty. You can zoom down to the soldiers view of the action or zoom out for a bird's eye overview of the battlefield. The game allows you to see each soldier's/units line of sight in far more detail than other previous war games.
The new turn system also allows the game to become more immersive. RTS games, although exciting do not allow for an in depth strategy. Turn based games are completely the opposite for the most part. As you can see a combination of the two systems is what is called for. Combat Mission adopts a simultaneous turn based system, that allows you and the AI or human opponents to carry out your turns at the same time, and it then shows the results of those moves in real time over a sixty second period. Believe me there is no way to put into words just how good a system this is. You get the opportunity to plan your tactics like a general as well as the visually pleasing display of seeing your strategic decisions in action, which is very satisfying. There are even VCR controls that let you reel the action back so you can view it from different perspectives.
As a value for money product the game is unbeatable. There are fifty scenarios, seven operations (campaigns) and you can even arrange a quick custom battle with the quick battle system that allows you to select a few options before throwing you into an original battle. Should you want to take that customisation further the game includes a full editor that allows you to design your own maps, scenarios and operations.
The game is concerned with the latter part of W.W.II. You can play as the Americans, Germans, British, French, Canadians and/or the Polish. The game exclusively deals with the land battles and includes more than 120 kinds of vehicles. Weather and time of day also comes into play too. If the terrain is muddy your tanks had better keep off the road otherwise they are going to get bogged down. It's not just the terrain that is realistic either. Your men will have different experience levels and their performance in carrying out your orders is dependent on that experience. You will marvel at the actions that your units can carry out too. You can send tanks to hunt for the enemy or tell a platoon to lie in wait to ambush some approaching enemy troops. Honestly this review could go on for another twenty paragraphs and still not cover all that is possible in this game.
Text feedback within the game is fine and the only verbal information that is not given in text is the orders that your men shout. Of course this robs you a little of the games glorious atmosphere but does nothing to hamper the excellent gameplay that is on offer. What I will say though is that the manual is excellent and gives you all the help you could want.
I mentioned earlier that the game comes with a bonus CD. This CD contains masses of mods for the game. It is impossible for me to cover all of these in this review but believe me when I say that you will be very pleased with the bonus CD's content.
The media attention has all been on Medal of Honour: Allied Assault but believe me when I tell you that no other game puts you in W.W.II. like Combat Mission. The biggest compliment I can pay the game is that you find yourself thinking like a general. It hurts to see men killed and you really feel guilty when it happens. This isn't strategy by numbers, or hex, it is the closest we are ever going to get to the real thing (at least until the sequel anyway).
Overall Game Rating: 9.4/10 Combat Mission is the definitive W.W.II. game that you can buy. It's revolutionary turn system combined with the ability to make you think that you are in a war, makes this game a classic in the fullest sense.
Deaf Gamers comment: The verbal comments from the soldiers aren't subtitled but this has no bearing on the gameplay whatsoever.