Close Combat IV: Battle of the Bulge
by Ted Watterston
The Close Combat series from Atomic Games has remained popular with strategy gamers. The first three releases were published by Microsoft, but this coming release will be published by SSI and return to that incredible contest of wills known as the Battle of the Bulge. The entire battle took place over a few weeks and was popularized in more than one famous movie.
The tactical engine in CCIV simulates squad-level combat in WW2. As in previous iterations, the game is scaled to allow the player to control individual vehicles and small squads of soldiers.
Action in CCIV is monitored via the traditional overhead perspective of a photo realistic battlefield. Each squad or vehicle will respond to a variety of commands to move, sneak, lay smoke, fire etc. The action occurs in real time, and there are three speed settings.
The appearance of the game is very similar to CCIII. As with the previous game, aerial photographs were used to design the tactical maps. This is quite effective, and at 1024x768 or higher the battlefield looks more or less like a photograph. (You can go as high as 1280x1024 with CCIV).
The Close Combat series have been somewhat unique among wargames because the AI factors in psychological effects. If your infantry suffers too many losses, for example, they may get quirky and choose not to follow your orders. Or, if their confidence is completely shaken they might surrender to the enemy on their first opportunity! Naturally, this is much less likely with veteran units. But the beauty of the psychologicial component is that is adds an element of spontaneity, humanizing the gameplay.
The big news with CC4 is the addition of a strategic mode, allowing players to allocate multiple battle groups on a strategic map of the Ardennes. Battle groups are essentially an abstraction of military units, allowing the player to control the strategic direction of the battle. If you are playing as the Germans and your flank attack falls apart, you’ll be able to reinforce with units from another area.
Another addition is the ability to assign artillery and air strikes to specific areas on the map. These strikes, when allocated to a specific tactical map, can then be called up anytime during that battle. Since resource management is modeled in the campaign, losses incurred during a tactical movement will be reflected in subsequent engagements. Anyone who has played a dynamic campaign can attest that this is a tremendous factor in gameflow and involvement for the player.
Not everyone wants to fight through the entire campaign, however, and for those CCIV will contain several mini-campaigns whichcover a portion of the action. Furthermore, more than 40 individual scenarios can be played through.
As for multiplayer support, two players can go head-to-head via serial cable, IPX, dial-up and the Internet. In addition, Internet players will be able to search for opponents via matchmaking services.
Download the DEMO: 50 MB.
Join a discussion forum on this article by clicking HERE.
Copyright © 1997 - 2000 COMBATSIM.COM, INC. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated November 22nd, 1999