Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy


By: Mike Gunn    On: PC
Published: Monday 18 Jul 2011 11:50 AM
 
 
 
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There is only one name in the videogame industry for computerised war games: Battlefront.com. Developer and publisher of the acclaimed World War 2-based Combat Mission series, and the more recent Shock Force series, which debuted their new game engine and brought their unique game into the modern era. It was with a lot of interest, then, that we received their latest title, Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy. This game revisits the arena covered in their first release, Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord (2000), but it utilises their latest combat engine.

Let’s be clear about this: Combat Mission is a game without compromise. It is exquisitely detailed, historically accurate, and designed to fairly replicate what tactical unit combat was like in the fields and woods of the Normandy battlefield. If your type of strategy game is resource gathering and tank rush tactics, you'd better give this one a miss. Combat Mission is a game of military tactics and the art of command.

The scenarios are played out on very well rendered 3D environments. Woods, hedges, buildings, and rivers adorn the battlefield in the style of 1944. There are hay racks, carts, stone walls, and, as expected, the dreaded bocage (high earthen walls topped with hedges that enclose a field), all of which are designed to challenge your tactical skill. Throw in night and weather effects and you have a battlefield that is challenging and dynamic, and that will push your command skills to the limit.

Each battle can have you commanding infantry units, motorised infantry, and armoured vehicles. All of these are rendered in 3D and replicate the units as they were during the battle for Normandy. Each soldier on the field equals one man. They each have their own weapon, ammunition, morale, level of experience and fitness. Each weapon's rate of fire, accuracy, and penetration are all carefully calculated. This goes for the tanks as well, with armour values for each part of the vehicles being accurate – to the point of including any historical vulnerabilities.

You have the choice to play real time or via a system called Wego (you plan your moves, as does the opposition, then a minute’s worth of combat is played out). This planning phase is the heart of the game. Units can be directed to move through a series of waypoints, each with a combination of crawl, walk, assault, hunt, or fast move. Each has their pros and cons. The crawl approach will lessen the chance of discovery, and allows you to spot enemies easier; however your troops will understandably become fatigued quicker. At the other extreme, fast move allows you to cross open ground at a run, but lessens the chance to return fire and does not allow you to reload your weapon.

When planning your move phase you need to consider line of sight and spotting. Enemies can be found through sight and sound; however only when you are closer or your spotting unit has a man with binoculars, can you readily identify it. Depending on the difficulty setting you have selected, only the unit that spotted the enemy can target it, as well as indirect fire units that have verbal or radio contact with the unit.

Indirect fire is by way of mortars, artillery, naval gun fire, and air support. The former unit is on the field of play, while the others are off the table (in war game parlance), and directed by a forward observer unit. Like your tanks and infantry, these too have limited ammunition. Fire can, however, be directed in different patterns to accommodate the circumstances of the target (suppressing fire, a line barrage at an enemy trench, etc). As in the real world, these are not instant and you need to target where you think the enemy will be once the shells land. These units can fire a variety of ammunition, including smoke shells that can be used to screen movement of your troops over open ground.

The terrain has a big effect on the game, with hull-down, overwatch positions, and plunging fire all being factored into the combat. Take too many casualties or continuous suppressive fire, and your troops could panic or worse still - surrender. Covered approaches and entrenchments, hard and soft cover are all calculated to ensure the battle experience is accurate as possible.

Controlling your units is undertaken through a myriad of hot keys or a plain but very functional onscreen control panel. Once you have completed your move and target orders, you then commence the move and sit back to watch your master plan unfold. Soldiers dash to cover, tanks rumble down roads and the mortar rounds start to impact suspected enemy positions. Like all good plans, they never survive the first few minutes of combat, and it's not long before you have to re-jig your units and axis of attack as you discover more of the enemy dispositions. The game AI is very good and punishes you if you try to be the hero.

Battles can range from tiny maps with a few units, to huge battles containing whole companies and regiments. The units are faithfully reproduced on the battlefield - albeit in plain colours. However, like the original game, the mod community is encouraged, and it won't be long before camouflage colours for your favourite units become available in the style of your choosing. The game is designed to be customisable and comes with a map editor that not only allows you to build your own maps, but also put them together in an entire campaign of battles, with differing consequences for success and failure on the battlefield.

You can choose to play one of the packaged campaigns solo, or play a quick battle online. The quick battles allow you to preselect your units (with restrictions on historical accuracy and the rules of rarity), determine the time of day, and the type of terrain. Additionally, the play-by-e-mail function has been carried over from earlier games, where you can have multiple games taking place at once with players across the globe (this may seem archaic but this method suits the complexity of the game).

There is a lot going on in this game, with a fair share of grunt devoted to the combat accuracy and unit details. Consequently, although the graphics are good, they are not at the same level as you will see in popular 3D games today. Likewise, the sound is all about combat audio; don't expect a catchy music track.

The game has a very comprehensive manual (a whopping 300 pages) which includes a read through of the tutorial missions. These are a must, as this game is unashamedly complex and not designed for a casual gamer.

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy is a game for history buffs and war game enthusiasts. If this is your bent, you will not find a more enthralling and historically accurate game. The game itself is only available direct from Battlefront.com, either as a download or by way of a physical disk sent to your location.


The Score

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy
"The most historically accurate WW2 game on the market."
9.0
Excellent
Rating: PGR   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 45 Min

 

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Comments (14)

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guitar93 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Monday 18 Jul 2011 5:43 PM Posted by guitar93
Always loved WW2 games. This game may fill in its place due to the new Brothers in Arms announcement being absolute horse poo, and not continuing on from Hells Highway.
 
 
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johnnyd777
On Tuesday 19 Jul 2011 6:37 AM Posted by johnnyd777
I agree with the review! It has been a real pleasure to play this gem. Ever since the release of the first Combat Mission Game way back when, the series has continued to get a makeover and improvment to keep up with the changing arena of game play and system speeds.
THis has exceeded my expectations and will keep me busy for quite a while. With the plans for expansions, it should be a winner for some time to come!
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Wednesday 20 Jul 2011 5:19 AM Posted by MichaelDorosh
To call CM:BN a game "without compromise" seems ludicrous given the amount of compromise inherent in this very schizophrenic game design. There are major abstractions at every level, and the game itself is a strange hybrid of the original game engine (itself stretched over the original concept, morphed through the three original games, CM:BO, CM:BB and CM:AK, each with individually different features) and the new game engine as released in CM:SF. CM:BN tries to split the difference, throwing older features like user-friendly Quick Battles, prisoners, close combat, and others back into the mix in order to please fans of the original game that gave the weird FantaSyria game a miss. CM:BN is mostly a mess, where every bullet is - allegedly - tracked, but building interiors are empty shells and infantry cannot ride on tanks (despite the fact historian Michael Doubler insisted the 2d Armored Division did just that as a reaction to the challenges of the bocage).

Two-foot tall hedgerows in the game are impassable to 20-ton tanks, and the same-old pathing problems from CM:SF have reappeared, as they show off their vulnerable flanks to go finding the long way around. Headquarters units still lead attacks. The AI leads attacks with headquarters units (and there are a lot of them with the new order of battle and command/control structure) and everything is set to a master timer in solo play, rather than the tactical situation.

As for the history - German paratroop units, some of the major defenders of the Normandy front, are not included. Tiger tanks are, despite not having been present in Normandy versus the Americans. Hornets are not included, neither are the SS. We have to wait and pay for the add-on modules.

This definitive game depicting Normandy also doesn't include a single parachute, glider, landing craft, beach assault or custom fortification, be it a Tobruk or an H677 bunker. No Army Rangers. No DD tanks.

Given the lengthy wait, one wonders what they were working on. No, I would say this review is far off the mark when it suggests there has been "no compromise."
 
 
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mattyj1974
On Wednesday 20 Jul 2011 9:58 AM Posted by mattyj1974
Only got eyes on one WWII game at the moment and that is Red Orchestra II. Maybe NZ Gamer could do a preview of this title in the future.

This game seems interesting; though I did not catch the first Combat Mission.
 
 
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killroy
On Thursday 21 Jul 2011 2:27 AM Posted by killroy
I totally agree with M. Dorosh. It's no longer Combat Mission it's some tinker toy for kids 12-13 years old. Real time kiddie clickfest bs. Where's the combat lines? I should have known after CMSF was so bad and dropped to $4.98 so fast it would make your head swim that this game would be no better. All this version is is a milking machine and just a breakdown of Combat Mission Beyond Overlord. Do yourself a favor and just get that game and CMAK. This one rides low on the real wargame meter. Also, I'm wondering if STEVE ever ATE that forum page he said he would eat if someone could prove publsihers/developers still supported games for FREE that were 8 years old+. We proved it and he didn't eat it. So when yah gonna eat your words STEVE? Oh that's right you don't keep your word do you? lmao.
 
 
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username2
On Thursday 21 Jul 2011 7:03 AM Posted by username2
"Hornets are not included"

Hi Michael, I'm trying to create a scenario and wanted to use some Hornets. This isn't for CMBN obviously, since that game doesn't have them. Could you tell me what unit it was that used Hornets in Normandy?

Many thanks
U
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Friday 22 Jul 2011 1:34 PM Posted by MichaelDorosh
20 July 2011, 05:19 AM Reply to MichaelDorosh
To call CM:BN a game "without compromise" seems ludicrous given the amount of compromise inherent in this very schizophrenic game design. There are major abstractions at every level, and the game itself is a strange hybrid of the original game engine (itself stretched over the original concept, morphed through the three original games, CM:BO, CM:BB and CM:AK, each with individually different features) and the new game engine as released in CM:SF. CM:BN tries to split the difference, throwing older features like user-friendly Quick Battles, prisoners, close combat, and others back into the mix in order to please fans of the original game that gave the weird FantaSyria game a miss. CM:BN is mostly a mess, where every bullet is - allegedly - tracked, but building interiors are empty shells and infantry cannot ride on tanks (despite the fact historian Michael Doubler insisted the 2d Armored Division did just that as a reaction to the challenges of the bocage).

Two-foot tall hedgerows in the game are impassable to 20-ton tanks, and the same-old pathing problems from CM:SF have reappeared, as they show off their vulnerable flanks to go finding the long way around. Headquarters units still lead attacks. The AI leads attacks with headquarters units (and there are a lot of them with the new order of battle and command/control structure) and everything is set to a master timer in solo play, rather than the tactical situation.

As for the history - German paratroop units, some of the major defenders of the Normandy front, are not included. Tiger tanks are, despite not having been present in Normandy versus the Americans. Hornets are not included, neither are the SS. We have to wait and pay for the add-on modules.

This definitive game depicting Normandy also doesn't include a single parachute, glider, landing craft, beach assault or custom fortification, be it a Tobruk or an H677 bunker. No Army Rangers. No DD tanks.

Given the lengthy wait, one wonders what they were working on. No, I would say this review is far off the mark when it suggests there has been "no compromise."
I should note a correction here; Niklas Zetterling notes that the Nashorn (Hornet) did not actually deploy to Normandy. Far more common, though, were the captured French tanks and converted SPs, and these were commonly used vs US paratroopers on the Cotentin Peninsula - these are not included in CM:BN either. Some tactical games have permitted use of the Hornet in Normandy (Schwerpunkt has at least one scenario set near Purple Heart Draw which uses one, for example). Nonetheless my earlier comment was, as far as I can tell from Zetterling, in error.
 
 
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HerrProbst
On Saturday 10 Sep 2011 10:29 AM Posted by HerrProbst
Seems we still have those with a personal axe to grind reviewing Battlefront games. Don't believe it. The game is fantastic and lives up to everything said in the review. try the free demo yourself and decide. Pointing out that Fallschirmjager and SS troops aren't included when it was noted even prior to release that they would be coming in the next module is only one example of the distortions presented by other posters.

DD tanks were applicable on 1 day of a 90 day campaign and even then were barely present. Is that really such a huge deficiency issue? Get over it and stop letting your personal feelings intrude, it undermines any credibility you have for objectivity

I bought the game, have played it almost everyday since it was released and hands down it is the best money I have ever spent on any PC game.
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Monday 12 Sep 2011 2:00 AM Posted by MichaelDorosh
10 September 2011, 10:29 AM Reply to HerrProbst
Seems we still have those with a personal axe to grind reviewing Battlefront games. Don't believe it. The game is fantastic and lives up to everything said in the review. try the free demo yourself and decide. Pointing out that Fallschirmjager and SS troops aren't included when it was noted even prior to release that they would be coming in the next module is only one example of the distortions presented by other posters.

DD tanks were applicable on 1 day of a 90 day campaign and even then were barely present. Is that really such a huge deficiency issue? Get over it and stop letting your personal feelings intrude, it undermines any credibility you have for objectivity

I bought the game, have played it almost everyday since it was released and hands down it is the best money I have ever spent on any PC game.
Herr Probst, I think perhaps you're the one letting your own personal feelings stand in the way of interpreting some of the earlier comments. The review presented here is primarily descriptive of the mechanics of the game - could be written about any tactical game in general, its so generic (terrain effects combat? Each soldier has his own weapon? Really?), and non-analytic in nature. Follow on commentary hasn't been done with any mythical axes to grind, but to round out some of the information a reasonable consumer might like to know before deciding to invest hard-earned hobby money. Instead of just hearing that the game is the "most accurate World War II game on the market" (apparently, because every soldier has a weapon), as the tag states in bold print, there's no harm in examining those claims critically. The title of the game itself suggests you will find all you need to recreate the Battle of Normandy within the box. An unsuspecting consumer, who doesn't make posting at the battefront website 24/7 a lifestyle choice, wouldn't realize the large amount of missing hardware that would prevent him from doing so. I never suggested the average gamer would be prevented from enjoying the product, either, absent those elements. Indeed, most people these days wouldn't know the difference between a FG42 and a K98 if it shot them in the face. But one or two would be interested in knowing. I do stand by my comments on the suggestion that the reviewer is wrong that there has been 'no compromise' by the developer however. Of course there has. The fact that Quick Battles have made their return in improved form is in itself a compromise, as was the space bar menu and many other elements of the game design. The developer was extremely eager to distance the "new" game from the old - I was on the beta team for the first game of the new engine - and the return of favourite old features, as you can deduce yourself from the public discussions, has been a tale of years of 'compromise' between the developer and an enthusiastic fanbase. And will continue to be so. Don't take my word for it. Just watch the official forums in the months ahead, as feature sets continue to evolve. You've seen the friction on the official forums yourself, and the hostility the developers sometimes express openly towards their own fans. Grudgingly doing what the fans demand is the definition of compromise.
 
 
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HerrProbst
On Monday 12 Sep 2011 5:00 PM Posted by HerrProbst
12 September 2011, 02:00 AM Reply to MichaelDorosh
Herr Probst, I think perhaps you're the one letting your own personal feelings stand in the way of interpreting some of the earlier comments. The review presented here is primarily descriptive of the mechanics of the game - could be written about any tactical game in general, its so generic (terrain effects combat? Each soldier has his own weapon? Really?), and non-analytic in nature. Follow on commentary hasn't been done with any mythical axes to grind, but to round out some of the information a reasonable consumer might like to know before deciding to invest hard-earned hobby money. Instead of just hearing that the game is the "most accurate World War II game on the market" (apparently, because every soldier has a weapon), as the tag states in bold print, there's no harm in examining those claims critically. The title of the game itself suggests you will find all you need to recreate the Battle of Normandy within the box. An unsuspecting consumer, who doesn't make posting at the battefront website 24/7 a lifestyle choice, wouldn't realize the large amount of missing hardware that would prevent him from doing so. I never suggested the average gamer would be prevented from enjoying the product, either, absent those elements. Indeed, most people these days wouldn't know the difference between a FG42 and a K98 if it shot them in the face. But one or two would be interested in knowing. I do stand by my comments on the suggestion that the reviewer is wrong that there has been 'no compromise' by the developer however. Of course there has. The fact that Quick Battles have made their return in improved form is in itself a compromise, as was the space bar menu and many other elements of the game design. The developer was extremely eager to distance the "new" game from the old - I was on the beta team for the first game of the new engine - and the return of favourite old features, as you can deduce yourself from the public discussions, has been a tale of years of 'compromise' between the developer and an enthusiastic fanbase. And will continue to be so. Don't take my word for it. Just watch the official forums in the months ahead, as feature sets continue to evolve. You've seen the friction on the official forums yourself, and the hostility the developers sometimes express openly towards their own fans. Grudgingly doing what the fans demand is the definition of compromise.
No actually I disagree, no personal feelings there other than taking offense that a reputed balanced response to the original reviewer would so badly mis represent and distort the game and the company all while trying to sound so reasonable and authoritative. And to couch it that you are protecting war gamers hard earned money, oh my now that is rich.

But no, you had to stand up for all to see and say "No compromise?, rubbish I say!" Hey did you notice it is a GAME. Could the fact that to be a game means that there has to be some compromise? Perhaps the reviewer understood that fact to be so blatantly obvious that even the guys who can't tell an MG from a Kar 98 even if you shot them in the face would get it? But wait they don't have interior furniture! Are you kidding me?

The missing material from D Day - Surely someone so authoritative as you can admit that DD tanks are almost ridiculously senseless in a game covering 90 days when they were trivially significant for at most a few hours. Considering the Game engine has limited functionality regarding water (now that would have been a decent critique, not sure how you missed that considering Market Garden is to be covered in one module and we aren't sure we can re enact the Nijmegen assault) what would be the point of a DD tank - it can't float. As it is, some enterprising persons have created a Point du Hoc as well as an Omaha scenario that is pretty impressive.

Claims of missing hardware and units - you may not like the module system BFC has employed to handle the sheer magnitude of what it takes for them to produce a CMx2 game, but as they have demonstrated in CMSF and have been very clear on for CMBN, the additional material is coming. To complain that they aren't there and have to be purchased in the add on modules is a ridiculous position. Should no game ever include expansion? Is it you simply object to the name of the initial module of this particular series? Can that level of trivial nonsense be worthy of even writing as a review of the game? How about if they named it "Combat Mission Normandy, the American and Wehrmacht units minus the Hornet (and this is Normandy folks NOT D Day.)" Would you be happy?

The game has a free demo, it has very clear descriptions and is freely discussed on the forum for all to see. There is no subterfuge here to suck in the unwary as you seem to imply.

Your comments stand for themselves and I think any discerning reader can see them for what they are. You have your opinion and it is no more valid than any other gamers despite your pretensions to the contrary. You may like to throw around your history with BFC as if you are some authoritative voice of all that is wrong with them and their strategic direction, but that tale is getting older and older and that dog doesn't hunt anymore. Isn't it about time to remove that off your resume? The game certainly has issues. It would be an amazing game that is perfect on initial release, however even at v1.01 CMBN is a pretty amazingly immersive game. I know, I actually play it.

I have to say though I really love how well you covered your tracks on the Hornet, admitting a mistake that is only a mistake "as far I can tell from Zetterling", though there isn't a single source to back you up. My God how do you live with having made such a faux pas in public? Oh wait a GAME once let you. How's that for compromising.

For those of us interested in a true balanced warts and all review of the game, please leave it to someone who really intends to deliver it and not just continue a very old very stale vendetta. It is tiresome, unfair to legitimately interested gamers and especially to those with some hard earned cash trying to decide where to spend it. BFC at least makes it very clear they can take it for a free spin in the demo and make up their own mind.

As to the hostility towards their own fans, guess you would be the poster boy on that. As an adult I actually like that BFC does not allow people to simply rant and be insulting on their forum. Rational, even heated but respectful discussions are so much more interesting. That is the norm there despite how you may want to characterize it, but then again you don't get to participate anymore.
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Tuesday 13 Sep 2011 2:39 AM Posted by MichaelDorosh
12 September 2011, 05:00 PM Reply to HerrProbst
No actually I disagree, no personal feelings there other than taking offense that a reputed balanced response to the original reviewer would so badly mis represent and distort the game and the company all while trying to sound so reasonable and authoritative. And to couch it that you are protecting war gamers hard earned money, oh my now that is rich.

But no, you had to stand up for all to see and say "No compromise?, rubbish I say!" Hey did you notice it is a GAME. Could the fact that to be a game means that there has to be some compromise? Perhaps the reviewer understood that fact to be so blatantly obvious that even the guys who can't tell an MG from a Kar 98 even if you shot them in the face would get it? But wait they don't have interior furniture! Are you kidding me?

The missing material from D Day - Surely someone so authoritative as you can admit that DD tanks are almost ridiculously senseless in a game covering 90 days when they were trivially significant for at most a few hours. Considering the Game engine has limited functionality regarding water (now that would have been a decent critique, not sure how you missed that considering Market Garden is to be covered in one module and we aren't sure we can re enact the Nijmegen assault) what would be the point of a DD tank - it can't float. As it is, some enterprising persons have created a Point du Hoc as well as an Omaha scenario that is pretty impressive.

Claims of missing hardware and units - you may not like the module system BFC has employed to handle the sheer magnitude of what it takes for them to produce a CMx2 game, but as they have demonstrated in CMSF and have been very clear on for CMBN, the additional material is coming. To complain that they aren't there and have to be purchased in the add on modules is a ridiculous position. Should no game ever include expansion? Is it you simply object to the name of the initial module of this particular series? Can that level of trivial nonsense be worthy of even writing as a review of the game? How about if they named it "Combat Mission Normandy, the American and Wehrmacht units minus the Hornet (and this is Normandy folks NOT D Day.)" Would you be happy?

The game has a free demo, it has very clear descriptions and is freely discussed on the forum for all to see. There is no subterfuge here to suck in the unwary as you seem to imply.

Your comments stand for themselves and I think any discerning reader can see them for what they are. You have your opinion and it is no more valid than any other gamers despite your pretensions to the contrary. You may like to throw around your history with BFC as if you are some authoritative voice of all that is wrong with them and their strategic direction, but that tale is getting older and older and that dog doesn't hunt anymore. Isn't it about time to remove that off your resume? The game certainly has issues. It would be an amazing game that is perfect on initial release, however even at v1.01 CMBN is a pretty amazingly immersive game. I know, I actually play it.

I have to say though I really love how well you covered your tracks on the Hornet, admitting a mistake that is only a mistake "as far I can tell from Zetterling", though there isn't a single source to back you up. My God how do you live with having made such a faux pas in public? Oh wait a GAME once let you. How's that for compromising.

For those of us interested in a true balanced warts and all review of the game, please leave it to someone who really intends to deliver it and not just continue a very old very stale vendetta. It is tiresome, unfair to legitimately interested gamers and especially to those with some hard earned cash trying to decide where to spend it. BFC at least makes it very clear they can take it for a free spin in the demo and make up their own mind.

As to the hostility towards their own fans, guess you would be the poster boy on that. As an adult I actually like that BFC does not allow people to simply rant and be insulting on their forum. Rational, even heated but respectful discussions are so much more interesting. That is the norm there despite how you may want to characterize it, but then again you don't get to participate anymore.
Herr Probst, you keep insisting that I have some kind of "vendetta", but you're the one that keeps suggesting I have a history with BFC, and are here on a third party forum openly suggesting readers actively discount my comments because of that history. I would suggest you're the one who has the vendetta. :)

I agree completely with you when you say the demo is going to be the best tool available for anyone to test the waters of this game. I would never tell anyone what to enjoy, and indeed, I enjoy CMBN myself. That doesn't invalidate any notion that it falls short of perfection in areas of conceptual design or execution - but that would be no surprise to the developers, who, being experienced coders and publishers, have admitted as such. They know there is work to do. They know there are long lists from hundreds of different people all clamouring for different features, and they've openly said many times that if they added them all to their TO DO list, it would stretch until doomsday.

Having said that, I'll say again that for those consumers who are interested in the history side of it - the demo won't necessarily tell you how much of the Normandy campaign you can hope to recreate since it doesn't ship with a full OB. Since a review is supposed to provide a consumer with information to inform his purchase, I added those comments in my reply, as well as my user review. 99.9% of consumers may not care about the airborne battles that met up with captured French tanks, or simply substitute German tanks instead. But there is no harm in pointing it out. I never thought a reviewer was supposed to simply cheerlead for a publisher.

In any event, rest assured that I am just one voice amony many, many more and I am certainly under no illusions. I do find it odd that I'm the only person to have supplied a user review to NZGamer thus far, and one of only three to have done so at GameSpot. I think there are three of us at VGG as well, one because BFC supplied a free copy to the site. I don't doubt CMBN has many fans, but what is stopping them from writing their own reviews? The absence of "professional" reviews has been puzzling as well.

If you take exception to some of the comments regarding the review, or the replies, a dignified, healthy discussion is always welcome, but it seems like you're starting to grind on questions of personality. If you don't like the fact that I don't think CMBN is perfect, that's unfortunate. I expect you will be very disappointed to know that I am not the only one. Perhaps you need to lower your expectations and understand that it is really ok for a game not to be perfect. The developers themselves know it, which is why they illicit user feedback to begin with.

Continue having fun with CMBN and learn to let go a little.
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Tuesday 13 Sep 2011 5:01 AM Posted by MichaelDorosh
Oh, one other thing. Lest anyone think that the comments here have over-emphasized the history aspect of CM:BN - after all, it's "just a game" - they can take a look at this wargaming poll:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/697624/why-we-fight-a-poll-on-why-we-wargame

It's a relatively small sampling - 250 as this is reported - but not statistically insignificant either. The majority answer (94, or 38%) responded that the most important reason they play wargames is to "recreate" or "gain insights" into history. One can review the other questions to see how valid they think the poll, and its results, are. No doubt other polls with other questions would give other results. And the poll itself was done among board wargamers, though many of those polled are no strangers to PC wargames either.

The point being that there is at least a small segment of the audience with a desire to use these things to actively recreate or even learn about history. You can't do that in isolation but as a prelude to a good book, a video game is an interesting way to make the lessons immediate. However, if you're going to look to a game as more than just "blowing stuff up", then you need to actively assess how well your product is capable of doing that. And when a reviewer actively promotes a game - that's what he's doing with his language and rating - as the "most realistic" or "most accurate", it is certainly fair to address perceived shortcomings in this area by pointing out some of the order of battle deficiencies and equipment oddities in the game.

The review here is obviously not a wargame review - it's a video game review, which is why it mentions that terrain affects combat, or that soldiers carry weapons. These are givens in wargames, perhaps not so in other types of games. BFC stated it wanted to expand its fanbase beyond just the historical/wargame crowd it captured very well with its first generation game engine. I think you can do that without abandoning your integrity to historical detail, and I'm pretty sure they believe that as well. It's up to the consumer base to hold them accountable. Ultimately, money talks. They've responded well to requests for changes in the UI and other features. But fawning 90% ratings from "videogame" sites will mean less than hard ratings from actual "historical" mavens who praise the nuts and bolts of the military accuracy. It's what the developers do for a living, after all. And they obviously take pride in it.

And I can guarantee, that if they get the military nuts and bolts right, even if 99.9% of people don't know or don't care about it, the rest of the audience will still get that warm and fuzzy feeling that they've bought into something special. Even if they just buy CM:BN and its follow-ons in order to blow stuff up and never "learn" a thing.
 
 
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HerrProbst
On Tuesday 13 Sep 2011 8:45 AM Posted by HerrProbst
13 September 2011, 02:39 AM Reply to MichaelDorosh
Herr Probst, you keep insisting that I have some kind of "vendetta", but you're the one that keeps suggesting I have a history with BFC, and are here on a third party forum openly suggesting readers actively discount my comments because of that history. I would suggest you're the one who has the vendetta. :)

I agree completely with you when you say the demo is going to be the best tool available for anyone to test the waters of this game. I would never tell anyone what to enjoy, and indeed, I enjoy CMBN myself. That doesn't invalidate any notion that it falls short of perfection in areas of conceptual design or execution - but that would be no surprise to the developers, who, being experienced coders and publishers, have admitted as such. They know there is work to do. They know there are long lists from hundreds of different people all clamouring for different features, and they've openly said many times that if they added them all to their TO DO list, it would stretch until doomsday.

Having said that, I'll say again that for those consumers who are interested in the history side of it - the demo won't necessarily tell you how much of the Normandy campaign you can hope to recreate since it doesn't ship with a full OB. Since a review is supposed to provide a consumer with information to inform his purchase, I added those comments in my reply, as well as my user review. 99.9% of consumers may not care about the airborne battles that met up with captured French tanks, or simply substitute German tanks instead. But there is no harm in pointing it out. I never thought a reviewer was supposed to simply cheerlead for a publisher.

In any event, rest assured that I am just one voice amony many, many more and I am certainly under no illusions. I do find it odd that I'm the only person to have supplied a user review to NZGamer thus far, and one of only three to have done so at GameSpot. I think there are three of us at VGG as well, one because BFC supplied a free copy to the site. I don't doubt CMBN has many fans, but what is stopping them from writing their own reviews? The absence of "professional" reviews has been puzzling as well.

If you take exception to some of the comments regarding the review, or the replies, a dignified, healthy discussion is always welcome, but it seems like you're starting to grind on questions of personality. If you don't like the fact that I don't think CMBN is perfect, that's unfortunate. I expect you will be very disappointed to know that I am not the only one. Perhaps you need to lower your expectations and understand that it is really ok for a game not to be perfect. The developers themselves know it, which is why they illicit user feedback to begin with.

Continue having fun with CMBN and learn to let go a little.
One last response and I am done here. This isn't productive to the folks trying to decide if this is a game they want or not. I realize that yes I did initiate this and take the onus for diverting this discussion. However my point in responding on this forum was to point out that though you mention your history with BFC as a way of substantiating your claim to more in depth knowlege of the game and the direction BFC has decided to take their game, you did not inform the reader that this relationship is actually a really bad one. The details of it aren't important, the fact that it exists and colors your perceptions though is something that one should take into account when reading your comments. I realize your position is that it does not, however there are many who disagree and feel that there is a consistency to your relationship to BFC and it's products that calls into question your objectivity.

You gave the game a 5 in your review and your comments to this reviewer were even more sarcastic about the product. That doesn't quite jive with your "if you don't like that I don't think the game is perfect" nor your suddenly reasonable "I would never tell anyone what to enjoy, and indeed, I enjoy CMBN myself. That doesn't invalidate any notion that it falls short of perfection in areas of conceptual design or execution - but that would be no surprise to the developers, who, being experienced coders and publishers, have admitted as such. They know there is work to do. They know there are long lists from hundreds of different people all clamouring for different features, and they've openly said many times that if they added them all to their TO DO list, it would stretch until doomsday." Compare that to "To call CM:BN a game "without compromise" seems ludicrous given the amount of compromise inherent in this very schizophrenic game design" or "CM:BN is mostly a mess". Either you need to figure out how you really feel about this game or you need to stand by what you say and stop shifting your position when you are called on it.

I agree it isn't perfect, I doubt I will ever see a game that is perfect at release or possibly ever. I am likely too old to see Computer AI or processing power advance that quickly. However you went much farther than it isn't perfect. You colored your review with the changes you have advocated and desired and suggested that they represent the larger community. "Grudgingly doing what the fans demand is the definition of compromise". That isn't compromise, that is implementing the desires of a specific group of individuals. There isn't that kind uniformity in desire or prioritization within the community of players of what we would like. Some want flamethrowers, some want anti aircraft, some want to look more closely at pathing, LOS and bridge issues. Some want the Eastern front family of games to take priority, some want a different UI etc. Some want all that in no particular order. BFC can't possibly meet all these requests so they prioritize what they feel is important, what is possible and what represents the greater return for the user base. THAT is the definition of compromise. As someone who has played it quite a bit I can absolutely agree there are issues that need to addressed and BFC is in active communication with it's user about doc*menting what are actual issues and what are perception issues.

So enough, you and I obviously disagree fundamentally about both the game, the company and your objectivity. I think you would agree that the liklihood that we would find any middle ground here is highly unlikely and that continuing this is fairly pointless. Feel free to reply it is your privilege and right to defend yourself and your viewpoint, however I won't distract this forum any further on this review.
 
 
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MichaelDorosh
On Tuesday 13 Sep 2011 9:14 AM Posted by MichaelDorosh
>>>>>The details of it aren't important, the fact that it exists and colors your perceptions though is something that one should take into account when reading your comments. I realize your position is that it does not, however there are many who disagree ...and feel that ... calls into question your objectivity.

Sure, there's a word for them. Uninformed bystanders. *G* You can make the conversation about me all you like, and I'm flattered, but every time you go back to the conversation being about silliness like tanks not driving over two foot hedges, or the AI being set to a clock instead of the tactical situation, or the game scale being inappropriate to 1:1 representation because individual men simply don't do the kinds of things you would want them to do...all of that seems kind of beside the point. Unless, as it seems more fans now do, all you want is to watch explosions and tracer fire. I've always said you can get pretty good explosions and loud noises out of CM:BN.

>>> Either you need to figure out how you really feel about this game or you need to stand by what you say and stop shifting your position when you are called on it.

Maybe you just need to stop trying so hard to catch me out on something, and just figure out what the words I'm saying actually mean.

>>>>I agree it isn't perfect

How dare you. *L*

>>>You colored your review with the changes you have advocated and desired

How dare I be constructive in my criticism.

>>>>and suggested that they represent the larger community.

They're certainly representative of like minded people I've corresponded with, but I am happy to stipulate - as I think I stated quite clearly multiple times above - that I doubt there is a majority in the community anymore that are history-minded. Which is no insult, even the majority of wargamers, as the poll above suggests, don't want a history lesson to be the prime reason they're playing. I'll repeat - if you do manage to get the history part of it right, though, the rest of it will fall into place naturally. Not only will you please the small number who actually know what colour the tank treads should be, and give a crap, but their happiness will be infectious - providing the rest of the game is any good, too. :-)

>>>>>>There isn't that kind uniformity in desire or prioritization within the community of players of what we would like. Some want flamethrowers, some want anti aircraft, some want to look more closely at pathing, LOS and bridge issues...(snip)

You are quite correct; makes me glad I am not a wargame publisher. I'd pull my hair out. And I have such lovely hair.

>>>>> THAT is the definition of compromise.

So we agree, then.

>>>>>>As someone who has played it quite a bit I can absolutely agree there are issues that need to addressed

So we agree then.

>>>>>and BFC is in active communication with it's user about doc*menting what are actual issues and what are perception issues.

So we agree then.

>>>>>>So enough, you and I obviously disagree fundamentally about

So we .... huh?

>>>>> both the game, the company and your objectivity. I think you would agree that the liklihood that we would find any middle ground here is highly unlikely and that continuing this is fairly pointless.

Ummm...okay, if you say so. *L*

By the way, you mentioned DD tanks and how they were only used for 1 day of the six weeks of the Normandy campaign (June 6 to July 24, 1944). You are correct, but take a look at the other wargames that have dealt with "Normandy". Actually, I have - even crunched some numbers. I published an article on the subject in a wargaming journal - D-Day is represented beyond its chronological importance in scenarios published by other wargames. It's what people think of when they think of Normandy, or even, indeed, World War II. You can thank Spielberg and Hanks for that. Should we "pander" to the public by reinforcing that? Maybe not. Like I said, getting the history right is a big deal. But I still find the idea of a tank that swims far more interesting than a 30 ton tank that can't cross a two-foot hedge, and has to turn its hind-end to the enemy to go looking for a gate. What would you rather play with? The answer for me is obvious. And if reading a review, one of the things I'd like to know.

Thanks for taking the time to engage me. If you'd like details of the article I'm talking about, email me at madorosh@shaw.ca - lest anyone think I'm trying to post free advertising here. I'd be happy to send you a complimentary copy.
 
 
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