|Genre: Strategy & War
|Min OS X: 10.6
|Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy
September 8, 2011 | Steven Marx
GraphicsFor the type of game that it is, the graphics in CM:BN shine and are a major step up from their predecessors. In the original, infantry platoons were represented by three animated soldiers; as you took casualties, you would go down to two and then one. Now, every soldier in every platoon, team, tank and other unit is modeled. Heavy weapons and tanks are modeled individually, and following along at eye level (you can lock your view to individual units) during an attack can give a nice visceral experience. That said, this is not the highest-end, most realistic console shooter, nor is it supposed to be. At times, especially in closer views, parts of the characters may go transparent, feet can disappear on what are supposed to be slopes, etc. But the focus here is on realistic tactics and gameplay, and for that the upgraded graphics offer a much more immersive and realistic experience than before, and add to the fun of the game.
One of the read me files for the game includes suggestions for graphics settings for different Macintosh models, including the Macbook Air (which it did run fine on, although the small screen makes for a very difficult to navigate battlefield). When was the last time a cross-platform game offered that kind of support to Mac users?
SoundThe sound of the game is a mixed bag. The sounds of battle are satisfyingly realistic; carbines, machine guns, artillery and tank fire all enhance the sense of being in the middle of a battle. The same cannot be said of the repetitive voice commands; fortunately you only here them when you have the camera set very close so at least you won’t usually be hearing the same thing over and over throughout the game. Still a little more variety would have been nice, as would some context; you will hear the same commands and comments no matter whether you’re in combat or walking in a quiet open field.
ValueAs mentioned above, out of the box (or download) the game offers hours of gameplay through the included Battles and Campaigns. The ability to create Quick Battles in just a few clicks adds to that. For those who are really into it, you can create your own Scenarios and Campaigns and share them with other users through the Battlefront site. The game also includes two training Campaigns which cover both the basics and some more advanced skills such as fighting in the bocage common in Normandy.
And this brings up one of the differences from the original. The first game covered everything after Normandy to the surrender of Germany. This game, the first in a promised series, focuses on Normandy, which does lead to some lack of variety in the missions. There are also fewer Battles and Campaigns than in the original, although the game has an active community of Scenario creators who have greatly expanded the amount and variety of Battles and Campaigns available. So while the game itself may come with a bit less and be more narrowly focused than the original, your options are almost as large through the free downloads available. In addition to missions these downloads include mods to change the look of almost every aspect of the game.
ConclusionAs a whole, despite some limits to multiplayer and a smaller set of initial missions, Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy represents a welcome return to the Mac of one of the best of the turn-based World War II strategy games. The variety of gameplay options, upgraded graphics, and improved AI make this a game for casual gamers and World War II grognards alike.
Note that CM:BN requires 10.6 (a Lion patch has also been released) and a 2.2 GHz Core Duo Intel chip and 256MB RAM (which can be integrated graphics).
Pros:• Good balance between playability and complexity
• Improved graphics
• Intelligent AI for both enemy and friendly units
Cons:• Internet/LAN games only allow real time play
• Repetitive voice command sounds quickly become annoying