Ten years ago the idea of giving every soldier in an RTS a name, a sense of self-preservation, and eyes capable of seeing further than 100m was as mad as it was daisy-fresh. Today, every military strategy does it. No - hang on a minute - they don’t, do they? Close Combat remains eccentric - a WWII skirmish series more concerned with subtlety and simulation than ’splosions and cinematics.
Based on a training tool made for the USMC, Modern Tactics shifts the top-down tussles from the Greater Reich to the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East. Twenty-five standalone battles recreate the kind of firefights that have peppered papers and TV newscasts for the last decade or so.
That variety comes at a price. CSO Simtek have chosen to empty out their map drawer, rather than fashion a coherent campaign. Remember the strat layers in CC5 and CC4, or the back-and-forth ops in CC2? There’s nothing like that in CCMT. You just select a scenario, play it, then pick another. The pleasure of tracking a particularly brave Bren gunner through a series of battles, the pain of watching a recruitment pool slowly drain, is denied us.
Meagre compensation comes in the form of Strykers and Bradleys, potent infantry accessories like Javelins and AT4s, and new, long-overdue order options. CC2’s gallant Red Devils would have killed for a ‘dig in’ command; likewise CC3’s Panzergrenadiers to ride around in bulletproof APCs. Replays, much bigger battlefields and more accommodating MP complete an enhancements list that really needed ‘Slapped-into-shape AI’ to be truly eye-catching.
It was the CPU’s lackluster performance that finally drove us away from CC. Modern Tactics reminds us why we loved the series, but also reminds us why we moved on to rivals such as Combat Mission (slower, smarter) and Firefight (sleeker, smarter).
Jan 24, 2008