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Close Combat 5: Invasion Normandy
by Nelson "Admiral" Hernandez
A Brief Note:
Friends, gamers, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Close Combat, not to praise it.
This may be a more philosophical review than most, because I believe we are seeing the last hurrah of this venerable series, which did much to open new vistas in computer wargaming by imaginatively exploiting the possibilities of the medium. I do not think I go too far when I say CC5 is the best in the series, but to put things plainly it has been eclipsed by Combat Mission, a game superior in every meaningful way. (Editor's Note: Link for that review at end of article.)
For the sake of the reader who hasn’t played a Close Combat game before, I’ll explain how things work, and then try to put things in perspective as far as the game relates to its companions in the series and how it stacks up against its formidable competition.
The latest iteration of the Close Combat series takes us back to the hedgerows of Normandy, where the first game was set. CC5 covers the Utah Beach landings and the battle for the Cotentin Peninsula, using very much the same real-time squad-level tactical battle engine pioneered in the first game and the same campaign system present in the last game.
Players can command U.S. or German forces in company-level battles. For the purposes of operations and the campaign, your force, called a “battlegroup,” represents the forward elements of a regiment. The basic unit is the squad or vehicle, but every single soldier from infantryman to tank gunner is tracked for their weapon, ammunition, health and morale state.
Play takes place in real time battles of variable length. An overall time limit can be set, and battles will end immediately when one side’s force morale dips below the minimum threshold. Battles can also end when both sides request a cease-fire or one side seizes all of the victory locations. The action is viewed with an overhead “god’s-eye” camera.
The game also includes a way to make custom battles and allows user-friendly online play via a variety of methods.
Installation / Manual
Installation was no problem. The manual covers all the bases well, but the game is intuitive enough that I only had to refer to it a few times. There is a “boot camp” within the game for new players. I am very pleased to say that the game never crashed or displayed erratic behavior.
The only grumble I would have with the packaging per se is that there is only one introductory video, and for some reason it ran sluggishly on my computer. My memory of CC2 is that it had something like two dozen videos, and they didn’t skip either. It is a small point but I did enjoy CC2’s interesting footage and historical narrative.
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