Microsoft's Close Combat is quite the innovative real-time strategy game. It is a historically based war game in that it takes place on the shores of Normandy in 1944. Spanning a six-week timeframe, you control either the German or American forces and try to win the war.
What makes this game so innovative is the computer AI. Your units are actually affected mentally by the things that surround them such as cannon blasts and the environment. If you send a rookie unit into battle for the first time, they will most likely be very nervous and miss their targets. If one of your units is in the heat of battle too long, they'll get stressed out. At times, it will seem like you're controlling a unit of wimps because they are too afraid to go into battle or are so stressed out that they cannot do much of anything.
You have the option to turn off the realistic actions and behaviors. While it is much easier this way (your troops feel nothing and therefore can attack on command), you really acquire an immersive feeling with the AI turned on. As such, it is up to you to make the right decisions in management and protect your troops in battle. Also, the more a unit fights, the more battle experience they will get. Each unit has a level of experience that increases through action and improves their morale and effectiveness as the battles rage on.
Controlling Close Combat and navigating the menu system is very simple. To move a unit, click on it and tell it what to do and where to go. If you want to move a bunch of units as one force, then group them together. If you have the AI turned on, you should be careful as to how and where you move them. Coming up with a decent strategy is necessary for victory.
The realism of the battlefield is outstanding. When a soldier gets hit, he will scream in agony. The developers really put a lot of effort in creating realistic war scenarios. Environments are carefully constructed to resemble forest terrain, beach and sand, water, bridges and so forth. When a unit attacks, you'll see the smoke from the freshly fired weapon. Cannon blasts go soaring through the air leaving a trail of smoke in the sky and a massive explosion when the target is hit.
My only complaint is that it could have been a tad longer. There are a fair amount of scenarios but it just seems to go by too fast. Still, when you mix this level of realistic battle tactics and environments and an ingenious AI system, you've got a great game. Close Combat is all this and more.
Graphics: The battle environments are gorgeously detailed. Everything moves realistically, weapons emit smoke and the explosions are great.
Sound: The sound effects and soundtrack are simply stunning. Units cry out in agony when they're hit and weapons sound frighteningly realistic.
Enjoyment: Because of the wonderfully done AI and scenarios, Close Combat is a very immersing and enjoyable experience. It can, however, get a bit difficult at times.
Replay Value: You have lots of gameplay options to choose from, such as playing as either the Germans or the Americans. There is also online support to test your management and wargame skills.
People who downloaded Close Combat have also downloaded:
Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far, Close Combat 5: Invasion Normandy, Close Combat 4: The Battle of the Bulge, Close Combat 3: The Russian Front, Civil War Generals 2, Allied General, Axis & Allies, Combat Mission 2: Barbarossa to Berlin
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