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Close Combat – The Longest Day from Matrix Games

Close Combat – The Longest Day

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Available from Matrix Games at

www.Matrixgames.com

This game consists of two parts, the updated enhanced version and the original Close Combat 5, Invasion Normandy.  The game covers the prominent battles of the Allied invasion of Europe beginning on June 6th through June 9th, 1944. The Allied powers had promised Stalin that they would invade Europe at the earliest possible date to press the forces of Germany with a Second Front to take some of the pressure off the Russian forces already fighting the Germans for three years.

Beginning on June 6th, 1944, nine Allied divisions invaded the Contentin Peninsula on five beaches. The five beaches were the Sword and Gold invaded by the British; Juno invaded by the Canadians; and Utah and Omaha invaded by the Americans. You may start with one of the invasion beaches on June sixth, or chose one of the later battles up to those fought on June ninth. You may also participate in the battles of the airborne forces dropped behind enemy lines the night before the invasion began.

Features of new version are:

  • Comes with all new 60+ battles, operations and campaigns.
  • Expanded strat layer with new strat map image as well as 64 gorgeous hand-drawn tactical maps. That’s an additional 21 tactical map slots over the original game!
  • Extended Force Pool list to display 25 of 25 available units as opposed to the 20 that stock CC5 displayed.
  • New reports at the end of battle showing campaign cohesion and
  • VL control – track your progress after each bout.
  • New enhanced Grand Campaign as well as “classic” CC5 style Grand Campaign.
  • Display of battlegroup cohesion and fatigue status.
  • Game now accepts maps up to 4800×4800 pixels as compared to the tock CC5 map size of 3600×3600 pixels.
  • Off-board or off-map support quantities now tied to difficulty level.
  • Improved graphical communication of strat map connections.
  • Tweaked User Interface graphics, with nearly all new planes, vehicles and map graphics. Also includes carefully crafted game play manual.
    Capable of simulating airborne battlegroup deployment drop zones.

This new version consists of 64 Scenarios, 7 Operations and 4 Campaigns. Once the game is loaded onto your system, you are presented with the Main Screen. This screen allows you to choose to Play a Game, go to Bootcamp, Create a Scenario of your own, Multiplayer setup, Options and the game Credits. Bootcamp consists of 5 scenarios that teach the user how to move, fire and integrate Combined Arms operations. To create your own scenario, please read the pertinent sections of the Game Manual, a selection item that shows up on the Game Menu screen. Options, when selected, give you the ability to change screen options, whether you want to change the speed of the game, what language the troops speak, whether their native or only English, what items to show on the charts, and so forth.

This review will be centered on the selection of a prepared scenario. After selecting “Play A Scenario” you see “The Command Screen”. The Command Screen consists of three sections.  The first, on the upper left are the Battles, Operations and Campaigns. Here you may choose to play one of the 64 Battle Scenarios, one of the Operations Scenarios, which constitute several contiguous battles, or of the Campaign Scenarios. To the lower left is the selection area for Saved games or the Scenarios you have created with the editor. To the right is the next section, the Game and Realism settings panel. At the top you chose whether you would be playing the Germans or the Allies. Below is the difficulty selector for both sides, starting from Recruit through five levels to Elite. Below that are the Realism settings which are: whether you can always see your enemy; whether they need to be ordered to move or fire; never using initiative and always obeying the order given; and lastly the player has access to the enemy information, as well as his own. The last part of the Command Screen is the conditions for ending the battle. The first of these is when Force Morale gets too low. Second is a strict time limit of 15 minutes to an hour of playtime. Another is when all Victory Locations are captured. The last item here is a two-minute warning when the battle is about to end, so that last minute desperation moves can be made.

Assuming that a single Battle has been selected from among the 60-plus possibilities, the next screen you see will detail the forces you are working with in this scenario. In the event you have chosen the German side to play, my suggestion is to go to the Options screen and select the option for the troops to speak English, unless you are fluent in German. The player is now transported to the map that where the scenario will be played, here you are given a chance to move any of you units, within a selected area before beginning play. Once play begins, the action can become “fast and furious”. You select a unit that you want to move or fire, and click on that unit with the right-hand mouse button. This will bring up the Basic Unit Orders menu here you will find seven things that a unit can be commanded to do. The “Move” order will cause the unit to move in a slow and cautious manner wherever you point them. “Move Fast” will cause them to advance quickly to wherever you direct them. “Sneak” will cause movement in a crawling mode, using the most caution. The “Fire” is self-explanatory. A unit may be selected to lay down smoke at a given point, stay where it is but assume a defensive posture or set up an Ambush at a location.

When an order to move is given and the end point of left-clicked, a blue line will appear showing where the unit is expected to go. Natural obstacles will cause the unit to deviate from the straight line. When a “Fire” order is given and the target noted, a “Target Circle” will be seen at the end of the line, the color of which will show the chances of hitting the unit and causing damage. Line of sight and range also factor into the possibility of hitting the target.

Once you have re-positioned any of the units on the field, get a feel for where the victory objects are located. When you have completed your tour, press the “Begin” button at the bottom. You are then in command of your squads, teams and vehicles until the scenario comes to an end, or until you suspend the game to come back to it another time.

You control up to 15 units and must be aware of their vulnerability to enemy fire during the course of the game. Tanks are especially vulnerable to Infantry attacks and the positioning of those deadly 88mm Anti-Tank guns. While you are moving and firing your units, the AI (Artificial Intelligence) is doing the same with your foes, so that you have to keep on top of the situation or your casualties will become excessive, diminishing your chances of finishing the battle. The AI will not hesitate to tell you when you are taking too many casualties, for instance, when playing one of the scenarios of the beach landings, and there are battles on each of the five beachheads.

When moving troops into the buildings on the map, the roof will disappear upon the entry of troops, giving you access to windows and showing you where your men are located in the building. When you leave the roof re-appears. As you progress across the battlefield, and are using the “See the enemy at all times” function, you will be able to view where the enemy troops are and which units are in that location. When both sides meet inside of a building, firing and the cries of casualties are the norm until that action is decided. Smoke being delivered by Mortars or Tanks can be used as cover to move units across contested streets or through open country.

I find that playing this game is absorbing to the greatest extent and gives the player a good understanding of what it means to tactically command troops in battle. Gamers who remember the original Close Combat series should play the tutorials to reacquaint themselves with the operations of the game. “Bootcamp” is a must for the newcomer; it’ll make you comfortable with the mechanics of the game.

I enjoyed playing both the original and the updated versions of this game, I know you will too; Happy Gaming!

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