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Publisher:    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 603 @ 133 MHz    RAM: 32 MB    4x CD-ROM

Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord
December 1, 2000 | Ruffin Bailey

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Combat Mission is a great game. Not only is it a fun game to play, it is also an impressive learning experience. No matter how many Saving Private Ryan’s I see, they will never recreate the glimpse I got into the actual combat in just the tutorial scenario of CMBO. If you’ll indulge me, let me quickly set the stage and lapse into a quick Combat Mission "war story."

The tutorial mission is nothing fancy. You have a few squads of U.S. infantry and a couple of tanks, and the opponent has a couple of Panzers with several squads of infantry. The object for both teams is to take a checkpoint marked at the intersection of two roads. There are 15 turns before the battle’s over, so you have 15 minutes of quick fighting (but much more time spent giving orders and determining strategy) before the winner is declared.

I made the newbie mistake of leading with my artillery, but things actually went well. As the Germans concentrated on neutralizing the armored giants (which had luckily outdueled the Panzers) and capturing the checkpoint, I was able to march my men through the woods to come out on the Germans’ flank. Once there, I had them pinned between a smaller squadron blocking their retreat, one of my Shermans from the front, and massive firepower coming from the trees.

In spite of my key vantage-point, the German military took advantage of what cover they could muster, and were going down very slowly (though still faster than my forces), maintaining the checkpoint. As I entered turn 14, with only two more minutes of fighting left, I knew I had to make a move in spite of having the upper hand. Though it would mean the death of several of my admittedly only-cyber men, I felt a little guilty as I sent two squads bravely running through the open field between the two forces to capture the road. I knew my casualties would go up, and for only a few yards of ground, but that was the goal and I sent them on their way.

While watching the six polygoned men (representing about 20 soldiers) charge across the field into enemy fire, it hit me that CMBO was more than a game — it was an in-depth model of war. Even though you want to protect your forces, there comes a time where victory is more important than minimizing the damage to your own men. No longer was the chance of death top on my mind — it was simply gaining those few yards of soil. As I watched my men in the woods keep the German’s pinned, and as I saw my two charging squads toss grenades at the trapped Germans, I began to appreciate what exactly war vets did for the countries they loved.

Admittedly, that’s a bit much to read into a video game, but that’s just how good CMBO is. Combat Mission is not just icons trotting across a square or hexagonal playfield. It’s a detailed, realistic, thoughtful recreation of a historic period of time. More than a game, Combat Mission is a true war simulation, and one that belongs in any serious, detail-oriented gamer’s collection. Combine that with the fact that this was a concurrent release for Windows and our favorite operating system (without any delay) makes Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord a real landmark for Mac [war] gamers.

• Unbelievable attention to detail — definitely a simulation, not just another game
• Quantum leap in war-gaming graphics
• Obviously made by programmers "for the love of the game"
• Concurrent release for Mac and that other OS

• Sluggish response at minimum system requirements makes game nearly unplayable
• AI could use some tweaking
• Demo is much too good

Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord
Download Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord Demo


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