When your military adventure in the Middle East goes fig-shaped you%26rsquo;ve got two options. Admit defeat and head home, or dig in, send for reinforcements and start listening to the locals. Battlefront have chosen the second path. This add-on is the culmination of a year-long troop surge. Twelve months and several patches on from the embarrassingly faulty Shock Force, hardcore wargamers have finally got a game they can play with pride.
Gone is the erratic vehicular pathfinding, bizarre line-of-fire behaviour and flaky infantry AI. Back are right-click order menus, and toggleable path and target lines. The game still lacks some of the variety, charm and facilities of its three predecessors (we still pine for Panzers and random map skirmishes with bespoke forces) but now you can %26ndash; most of the time %26ndash; believe in the combat you%26rsquo;re choreographing.
Disappointingly, the venue is still near-future Syria. Where CMSF covered the American Army bit of a NATO-led regime-change invasion, Marines focuses on the USMC contribution. The jarheads get to drive anvil-shaped amphibians called AAV-7A1s, and shoot with the Demoman-style M32 grenade launcher, but the shift is hardly dramatic. Syrian T-90 tanks are the only added kit to have any real impact on tactics.
The new 20-mission branching campaign thankfully involves far less slaughter of poorly equipped, static Arabs than %26lsquo;Task Force Thunder%26rsquo; did. Regularly you find yourself on the back foot, scrambling to build scratch defences as the Baathists counter-attack in force. A sizeable haul of extra standalone scenarios and quick battle maps cement the sense of progress. Marines is not essential, but it is a perfect way for deserters like ourselves to rejoin the fray.
Mar 11, 2009