Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on May 21, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Combat Mission: Shock Force Recon

By Brian King

There is a lot to like about this new game.  The removal of the flag system and the addition of the more complex victory conditions for each side mean that individual scenarios are much more dynamic than they ever were in the older CMs.  A band of insurgents is no match for allied armor in the open, but in the streets of Damascus they can hold up an entire division of the beasts.  The victory system models this pretty well and the grab the flag mentality is gone for the most part (although sometimes you DO have to grab an objective to win). The game uses some conventions introduced in Theatre of War (another Battlefront title) such as floating icons to identify units (a solid color means the unit is spotted) and to allow quick unit selection without needing to click tiny on-map units.  This is a divergence from earlier CM games which used solid lines to indicate spotting, LOS, targeting, etc. 


The graphics in this beta are evolving daily, and seem to be headed in the right direction.  Unit models are evolving (note my screenshots include incomplete models at times), and the terrain was still being cleaned up at the time of this writing.  The animations (vehicle movement, men running, guns firing, etc.) are all excellent and quite detailed where finished.  Never having been to Syria or the Middle East I cannot comment on the authenticity of the desert and building models, although if Baghdad seen everyday in the news is any indication these streets lack the trash and clutter to make them believable.  Battlefront is apparently working to add more flavor (is that President Bashar al-Assad on the street sign?) before the release. 

My chief complaint on graphics is one that persists from the days of desert fighting in Combat Mission: Afrika Korps. The desert is a dull, largely featureless wasteland.  When you are playing in such blight zones, it would be very helpful to have a topographic overlay or some sort of shading tool or grid lines so the hills and valleys are contrasted (every local commander on the ground would have access to maps or satellite imagery which could be enhanced to highlight terrain).  As it is, everything everywhere looks very similar and you won’t know where the crest of the hill is located until the enemy spots and kills you there. This was somewhat solved by user-created mods for CM:AK which added grid lines to all the terrain files so you could easily see slopes, but this version has tiny tiles for terrain, and such a solution may not be so elegant this go round.  We’ll have to wait and see.   

There is still a long way to go until this game is polished and ready for prime time, but it does seem to offer a lot of action and mission diversity for the strategy enthusiast interested in modern era combat.  It builds upon the core strengths of its predecessors, but at the same time the nature of modern combat gives it a feeling very different from any of those games.  It should appeal to those who like simulations a bit broader than street level tactical (think Armed Assault), including RTS gamers in the evolving genre of "realism-based" war and strategy titles (think Theatre of War). Whether the game will also draw in the Panzer Pushers from the rest of the Combat Mission stable is something we will be watching very closely.


Pages: 1 2

1 Comment

  1. Hiya, just stopped by. Wasn’t what I was looking for, but very nice site.