Combat Mission 3: Afrika Korps

6Like a Panzer division roaring into a sleepy crossroads town, Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord shook wargaming. Developed and published in 2000 by the pairing of Big Time Software and Battlefront, it melded turn-based and real-time action, strategic challenge and gripping drama, but with a tinge of easy access that made the thing playable by novice gamers. It was very well received, as was its 2002 follow-up Barbarossa to Berlin. In Combat Mission: Afrika Korps 3, you’ll fight across the arid deserts of North Africa, over the rugged mountains of Italy, and through the fertile valleys of Crete.

Building on the Barbarossa to Berlin engine, Afrika Korps offers everything fans of the series expect. Combat will play out on the tactical scale; each unit is a single squad, weapons team, heavy gun, or vehicle. In this environment, you can revel in the units’ nuances, and in theory, emotionally relate to the action as your men beat back a fierce assault or desperately take cover from a thundering artillery barrage. During each turn, you’ll have a chance to spend as long as you like studying the battlefield and issuing orders. Then you’ll face a hands-off, one-minute, real-time challenge that plays out like a miniature war movie. An impressive array of scenarios, as well as a random battle generator and integrated scenario editor, will offer a wide range of challenges against human opponents or the AI.

15While the game doesn’t introduce new changes to the proven Combat Mission formula, it’s still not just a retread of the first two games. The new Mediterranean combat theater means you’ll get to lead American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, South African, French, Polish, German, and Italian troops. You’ll find nearly 1,000 different unit types, including new multi-turreted tanks. All of this is nice and good, but the old Combat Mission interface – and especially the camera controls – could have used some much needed improvement.

The graphics are somewhat tweaked, but still a long way away from being considered up to date. Better looking vehicle graphics and new terrain and building props, such as Italian vineyards and African sandstone dwellings, still help bring the battlefields to life. The moving vehicles are quite impressive, as are the explosions that kick up billowing dust clouds in the desert. These can block lines of sight as well as revealing vehicles many miles away. It appears as though Combat Mission’s trademark depth and breadth are undiluted here, which is great for strategy fans.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win95

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