Close Combat II: A Bridge Too Far

Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far (essentially Close Combat 2) attempts to address every one of the criticisms of the original Close Combat, and in doing so, becomes a textbook example of not only how to do a sequel correctly, but to make an engaging wargame as well.

3_1While some complained about its real-time structure, the Close Combat engine is superb in simulating WW2 ground-level combat. To keep the game from degenerating into a Clone & Conquer melee, the game uses psychological models of each individual soldier to guarantee that they act – and more importantly, react – as humanly as possible. The simple and intuitive interface shields the players from the large number of engine calculations in the background. In many ways, A Bridge Too Far is as much a simulator as it is a wargame.

Microsoft doesn’t shy away from putting SS units in the game (they did play a critical role in Market Garden), and in addition to British and American forces, the Polish airborne show up as well. However, even with the plethora of new units and vehicles, you’re still limited to what’s on the map – there is no off-board artillery or air support to call in. Players must still seize victory squares and inflict as much malice on the enemy as possible. A new twist in bridge battles is the countdown timer – take too long to secure the bridge as the Allies and you risk having it blown up in your face. The time element lends a whole new urgency to battles as cautious tactics are thrown over for desperate gambles.

8_1The AI is good, and knows how to sneak units around flanks and counter-attack. More importantly, the static tactics of the original game (which made it easy to sit back and do relatively nothing) no longer work here. Sit still in one position for too long and you’re liable to pay for it. Combat is fluid and, in the close spaces of towns and villages, very bloody. Combined-arms tactics are a must, especially on the offensive. On the other hand, defense in depth is the order of the day when you’ve got to hold out.

While the same engine is used in this sequel, the good deal of upgrades, from visual to gameplay, make Close Combat 2 superior to the original, though still aimed more towards die-hard wargamers than casual real-time strategy fans.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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