Still alive and kicking since 1996, the Close Combat franchise has taken a great step forward with the release of "The Bloody First".
In the following video, which I strongly recommend to watch in YouTube rather than here, I showcase a custom scenario and provide commentary about the same features.
At a glance:
- Close Combat - The Bloody First
- by Slitherine/Matrix Games
- US $35.99
- Available at Slitherine/Matrix Games and Steam
- Scope: WWII, tactical, platoon-sized engagements
- 11 campaigns, 39 battles plus 1 tutorial
- Real time, pausable. Orders are allowed during pause
- Terrain is in 3D, map sizes varying from 300 to 1.2 km in length and depth
- Playable from both sides and multiplayer via a Slitherine/Matrix lobby (login required)
- Mission editor
Great prolonged firefights despite the closeness of the combat. Close Combat rewards real life tactics and punishes heavily the tactically dull player. 3D offers what was sorely missing since the first Close Combat games, bringing alive lines of sight and immersing the player onto a live world in which every crevice and fold is the difference between life and death. The arrows indicating the paths of units are very effective eliminating the uncertainty of the previous titles' path calculations. The morale and abilities of each soldier are tracked and updated after every battle, creating a virtual bond between the player and his virtual subordinates. The once pioneer campaign system continues to be a gem of tactical wargaming. The amount of content is plentiful and the mission editor offers unlimited re-playability.
Some problems with the targeting of armored units has been acknowledged and is being worked out by the developers. Some moves by the armored units and vehicles seem a bit uncanny and may suspend the disbelief.
The bottom line:
A faithful continuation and improvement of what made Close Combat great. Challenging, satisfying and meaningful tactical combat at a complexity well above beers and pretzels but requiring less time commitment than other WWII tactical offerings. Gamers with a sweeth tooth for AAA graphics or the typical mainstream RTS fare need not to apply unless they seriously consider what this game is (a real war game classic design) and is not (a hyperactive unit-spam-click-fest with lots of flashes and booms).