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Combat Mission 2

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Combat Mission 2
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Combat Mission 2 review at computer games

Panther Tank
Panther Tank awaiting orders
Combat Mission 2 Barbarossa to Berlin covers the Eastern Front conflict during WW2 from it's beginning in 1941 to it's ultimate conclusion in 1945.
Anyone who has played this games predecesor will be familiar with the overall concept and the superb real-time/turn-based gameplay. For those new to the series this consists of 1 minute real-time rounds interspersed with an order phase of unlimited time. Works out great.

The game is played on a 3d virtual battlefield. Viewing the field of battle is highly flexible, the player can zoom in to a soldier's eye view (highly useful for finding defensible hull down tank positions) or can zoom way out to get a birds eye view much like the Close Combat series of games.

Many kinds of different terrain are modelled in the game, from exposed open ground to various tree covered areas of varying cover. These various terrains play a huge role in the game. Dense woods for instance are impassable by Armor but provide good cover and concealment for infantry while wheatfields are passable by all units, provide concealment but very little actual cover from incoming fire.
Also the season changes the effectiveness of terrain, for example the above mentioned wheat fields provide better concealment in the months where the crop is high.

Armoured mobility is highly dependent on the ground terrain. A large problem when conduction a tank assault is avoiding bogged down and immobile armour units. Soft ground will turn the best of tanks into immobilised field guns.

A point that always need remembering when playing Combat Mission 2 is that the terrain graphics are representations of the area. For example where you see a wooded area with a few trees and a different coloured ground area, the actual placement of the trees you can see is irrelevent to the game, it's pointless trying to hide an infantry unit behind a tree as the trees shown are merely representions of that general patch of terrain, It's the ground colour that counts.

T34 Tank
Russian T34 tanks in a wheat field
Tiger 1 and a Panzer with side armour plates
Tiger 1 with a Panzer tank.
The units in CM2 are fairly well represented (superbly well for a serious war-game). Tanks are nicely modelled in 3D with moving turrets. The tracks move (but not the wheel graphics which can look a little odd close up).
Each infantry unit is represented by up to three soldiers again well drawn for this genre of game. CM2 and it's predecesor have pushed the serious war game up a notch with it's much more immersive quality due largely to the implimention of a 3d battlefield with decent graphics.

Nearly all the Tank and other vehiclular units in the game have thier unique graphics, these include the Tiger 1 and King Tiger, the Panther, Panzers in all kinds of marks including the ubiquitous MKIV, Russian T34 in varoius marks, assault guns like the SU100, etc. A few of the very obscure units modelled do appear to use similar graphics to each other though.

Sound in the game is well done, everthing from shell and small arms fire to tank noises.

T34-85 at night
T34-85 on a night mission.
Unit morale and experience is well implimented. A unit coming under heavy fire and sustaining casualties will quickly loose morale and hence effectiveness. If things get too bad the unit will break and the player looses control over the unit.
The game also feature delayed orders. This is effected by proximity to unit commanders on the field, for example if a unit is right by it's platoon leader then it's orders get to them faster than if the leader was on the other side of the field.

The general gameplay of CM2 is great but may be too slow for some people. Issuing orders to you forces can take quite a while especially on a large map with many units under your command. On top of this is a sometimes quite lengthy wait while the computer gets on with it's order phase and works out the next 1 minute phase of combat. A 30 minute battle can therefore take above an hour (or two) no problem.
For those who like a good mind game though this general slowness is not an issue.

When all orders have been made and the computer has done it's number crunching the next minute of battle commences. This phase is for viewing only, no order can be made. During the phase you can change your view to anywhere on the battlefield, you can even rewind the battle and play it again if you wish, useful when you don't know what just caused your shiny new King Tiger to blow up.

Artillery and airpower play their part in the game. You have spotter units for off map artillery units of various callibers. When called in these can take several minutes to arrive so forward planning is required. If the weathers good then airpower might be available to either side. Ground attack runs by Fw190 fighter bombers or Henshels are only visible by the aircraft shadow and the wreckage on the battlefield.

Generally then Combat Mission 2 is right up their with Medieval Total war for anyone who is a fan of in depth wargames. The game is available at bargain prices now and have produced another instalment (Combat Mission Africa Korp).

Town in CM2
An advance toward a town objective.
Computer Games SCORECARD

Graphics 8/10
Sound 8/10
Gameplay 9.5/10
Originality 8.5/10

Computer Games score 9/10

Excellent in most respects but needs a patient player