|Combat Mission BFN: Commonwealth Forces|
April 15, 2012 | Steven Marx
Mac OS X: 10.6 |†CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 3.5 GB Graphics:†256 MB RAM Video Card
Review:World War II war gamers on the Mac rejoiced last year when Battlefront.com returned to the Macintosh with the release of Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy (CM:BN). A major upgrade and re-visioning of the groundbreaking Combat Mission series from pre-OS X days, CM:BN marked Battlefrontís return to the Mac after an absence of many years due to the many changes the Mac went through, from RAGE to OpenGL graphics, OS 9 to X and PowerPC to Intel chips. With upgraded graphics, new gameplay options and a large community of player-developers who relish making their own scenarios and mods for all to use, CM:BN offered an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy realistic turn-based or real time strategy WWII games to spend many hours in front of their computers.
Some, however, were disappointed with some of the things the game lacked that were in the original, in particular a smaller set of scenarios and campaigns and limited multiplayer support. Battlefront assured us that more was to come, and those who ordered the collectors edition tin even had places waiting for upcoming DVDs. And Battlefront has come through with their first expansion, Commonwealth Forces (CW, their abbreviation, not mine). As you might gather from the name, the focus is on providing a more detailed set of forces from the British Empire, including Scottish and Canadian troops and equipment, as well as Polish forces, German Waffen SS, and others. To help you put these troops to the test, the expansion includes a number of scenarios and two campaigns, one from the Commonwealth side and one from the German.
In addition to the troops and equipment, CW includes a manual describing the forces and how they are best used. This is highly recommended reading both for success using the forces and for those interested in a little more WWII history. It describes the strengths, weaknesses and best configurations of the different forces to ensure success. The manual also includes detailed information on the new weapons and equipment, which include Sherman, Churchill and Cromwell tank variants, armored cars, artillery, aircraft, infantry weapons and more.
This is the sort of detail Combat Mission is known for and hardcore WWII gamers devour and makes creating just the scenario you want even easier than ever. And despite the wealth of new scenarios and campaigns, itís those who make their own battles and campaigns who will probably most appreciate the tremendous variety available through this new expansion. Either using the Quick Battle method or the Scenario editor, you can now get just the mix of forces you want, as long as itís historically accurate. Do you want to see how some Canadian Fireflies will match up against some Panthers? Well first you have to decide whether you want to face Panther A, D or G, and then early, mid or late variants. If that sentence makes you start drooling you should get this expansion now. If it leaves you scratching your head, youíll have to decide from the rest of this review.
While this first module provides a variety of new forces, it doesnít offer any changes in gameplay (single or multiplayer) or expand the time frame covered in the game (D-Day through the end of 1944). If thatís what youíre waiting for in CM:BN expansions, youíll have to keep waiting and see if thatís whatís next. And while the new scenarios and campaigns are welcome, theyíre mostly designed to feature the new units; there are plenty of free campaigns and scenarios available from modders, though they donít all have the level of detail and quality of the additions youíll get here. None of this is to argue against buying this expansion, but offered in the interest of full disclosure. The expansion is $35, not an insignificant amount for those who already ponied up $45 or more for the initial game. For those who havenít bought either yet, now is a good time, as itís being offered in a bundle with the original game for $65.
Once youíve installed the expansion itís all included in the game; youíll open Combat Mission as usual (and see two tanks, one with one star under it and one with two, presumably letting you know whatís installed). Furthermore, any updates or patches will patch the whole game. This is nice as once youíve bought and installed, itís still like you have one game and you donít have to worry about whatís the original and whatís the expansion.
Commonwealth Forces is a nice initial expansion to Combat Mission. While it doesnít offer any up front changes to gameplay or available time periods, it provides quite a bit to those who enjoyed the initial release but wanted more. You get more scenarios, more campaigns and more detailed forces which gives you more control over any Battles, Scenarios and Campaigns you create. For lovers of tactical WWII combat, the best keeps getting better.
ē A variety of new forces showcased in new scenarios and campaigns
ē Detailed manual filled with useful tips and historical information
ē No new gameplay elements or expansion of the timeline
Steven Marx has been playing games on the Mac since his brother brought home a Mac 512K. Actually he started with Apple games when his best friend set up an Apple II. He then spent his graduate school years studying Educational Technology, giving him an excuse to spend hours with SimCity 2000, Civilization III, Marathon and the like. While he designs and develops websites and multimedia for a living while being a stay-at-home dad, he loves writing for IMG because it ďforcesĒ him to continue playing games on the Macintosh.