Game Review - by StormDaemon
Close Combat III shows that Microsoft has published a game that is both groundbreaking with its realism and a whole lot of fun to play. This game puts you in the place of a commander who is in charge of a fire brigade that travels all throughout the Eastern Front of World War 2 with soldiers who act like real people and have real equipment. Strategy and patience are the keys to win, and unless a chess-like demeanor is used, your army is sure to be defeated. Not only are the realistic actions taken by the soldiers incredible, but the sheer fun of overwhelming the enemy and see them begging for a truce is sure to keep this game playable for a long time to come.
During World War II, the German thrust into the Soviet Union was one of the largest and longest fought land battles in history. You are in charge of a special fire brigade that travels throughout that Front, deciding victory or defeat for each side. Either as the Germans or the Soviets, you can follow history's path or make your own.
The game features many options including ones to fight individual battles, operations involving several battles, and full campaigns. Also included is the ability to make scenarios with an editor. Multiplayer support is also there, allowing for internet, direct connection, LAN, or through game services. The menu system is intuitive, allowing for easy access to a quick battle, and the post-battle information screens allow a concise and quick gathering of information about the battle. Troop deployment screens before the battle are easy to use and easy to understand. Very few difficulties arise when trying to navigate through the screen or even during the heat of battle. Command of troops is also easy and concise, but allowing for great strength and strategy.
The gameplay is almost as if there was a real battle going on. Each battle begins with the placement of troops within the controlled territory, and once everything is set, the fighting commences. Each grouping of troops can do several actions which include move, move fast, sneak, fire, smoke, defend, and ambush. Every single soldier's health, morale, orders, and ammo is shown, including the troops inside vehicles. All of those must be taken into account when ordering otherwise the troops may either disobey or just panic and run away. Speed, strenth, armor, vulnerabilities, and many, many other variables are taken into account for everything during combat. The terrain itself is also a factor, and it has to be used to its fullest advantage in order to gain the upperhand in each battle.
The graphical interface is a top view of the battle map with an information bar at the bottom of the screen. The terrain is highly detailed and realistic, with houses, craters, lakes, rivers, trees, and just about everything but the kitchen sink. Each unit is just as detailed, but they all look pretty much the same at a distance. Everything looks really nice, except for the movement, which can be a tiny bit jerky. As the battles go on, craters will appear with explosions, and buildings will be slowly destroyed, with those two examples being rather small in comparison to the detail involved in the entire game.
The sound effects were excellent as well. From the authentic maching gun fire to the screams of the dying, everything was reproduced with realism in mind. One of the best features is the ability to have the Russians and Germans speak in their own languages if so desired. Even though I could not understand a word they were saying, it was still really cool.
Overall, this has to be one of the best strategy games I have ever played. The detail and historical accuracy were incredible, and the amount of historical information put into the game was very impressive. The gameplay allowed for realism and strategy to intertwine excellently, and still allow for a good time. The flaws in the game were very small and almost unnoticeable, and they never interfered with playing at all. I heartily recommend this game to any strategy and historical enthusiast and also to anyone who likes to command a good battle.