Close Combat IV: The Battle of the Bulge
Although the Battle of the Bulge had little influence on the ultimate outcome of World War II, it holds a special place in U.S. military history. Surprised and outnumbered, American troops held out against the best Germany had to offer. Close Combat: Battle of the Bulge (the fourth installment of Atomic Games’ real-time tactical series) follows this conflict. For those not in the know, Close Combat games get down and dirty with small-scale infantry and tank action, a combination of real-time strategy and hardcore wargaming.
The Ardennes forest where the battle was fought tended to tie the advancing Germans to the roads and Atomic Games has taken full advantage of this in designing the campaign game. The game comes with scenarios, operations, and campaigns. More than a true model of the real battle, operations and campaigns are an abstraction following the progress of one or more battle groups along the road networks.
More than one battle group per side can never occupy the same map location, making it impossible to bring superior force to bear. Atomic says this reflects the bottlenecks in the Ardennes. It also conveniently keeps the unit count within the game’s limits. Each battle group is drawn from the type of division it representsâ€”armored, mechanized, or infantry. You can no longer buy units between battles, but have to live with the troops you’re assigned. Each group has a maximum of fifteen units.
Supply is factored in and taking an enemy depot can often be critical to survival. It’s not fun to find out your tanks are out of gas when the shooting starts. Battle groups can rest and refit or be disbanded to make room for fresher formations. The welcome ability to assign artillery and air support and supply has also been added. Artillery support, however, is only one battery of mortars and air support (when it’s available) is one quick and absurdly responsive pass by a randomly determined aircraft.
Control of road exits is key to winning the campaign game. But, annoyingly, if the enemy breaks before you’ve taken these victory locations, the battle has to be re-fought against a refitted enemy. The only alternative is a mad rush to capture them before the enemy breaks. While not exactly a true study of the battle, Close Combat: Battle of the Bulge is a solid addition to the line and recommended for those who can’t get enough of the Bulge.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95