Combat has established itself as unique and unmatched wargame in its own right by consistently breaking and revolutionizing all established abstract conventions of the classic turn-based wargames in an on-going effort to bring the genre to a new level of control and realism.
Since the release of the first title in 2000 Combat Mission has covered three historic World War II theaters:
- Western Front from Normandy in 1944 to Germany in 1945
- Eastern Front from the commencement of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 to the fall of Berlin in 1945
- Mediterranean Theater including North Africa, Italy, Sicily and Crete from 1940 to 1945
As well as a hypothetical, but highly relevant modern warfare theater depicting a US-lead NATO operation in the present-day Syria.
The series is currently on its second generation of the game engine – commonly referred to as “CMx2” – first introduced in 2007 with the “Shock Force” title. The brand new engine, which was rewritten from the ground up, has introduced a vast number of improvements to both the visual representation and the simulation fidelity of the game.
Starting with the very first title in the series Battlefront has made a bold decision to do away with such wargame concepts as movement squares and hexes, action points, top-down 2D view, alternating player turns, and abstract fire and damage models. Instead Combat Mission games are rendered in a fully 3-dimensional battle space with each unit’s movement and each individual shot being calculated in real-time with an inch-by-inch precision, while still allowing players take the time to examine the battlefield, plan their strategy, and give out the orders.
Each “turn” in Combat Mission is comprised on two alternating phases – an order phase and an execution phase. During the order phase the action is paused, much like in a classic turn-based wargame, effectively giving players an indefinite amount of time to issue the orders. Once the orders are submitted the game advances into the execution phase where the orders are resolved in real-time for both side simultaneously with movement and fire outcomes taking immediate effect. The execution phase lasts for 60 seconds during which players are not able to alter any of the orders given to the units, however have a full control of the camera and are able to pause and rewind the action in order to observe different parts of the battlefield. Once the player is done watching the 60 second segment the game advances to the next “turn” and the process is repeated.
CMx2 has also introduced a pause-anytime real-time mode, which in effect allows the player to control the length of the “execution phase.”
Scale & Scope
The smallest unit in the game which the player can directly control are squads or teams of infantry, and individual vehicles. Scenarios allow for a force as small as a depleted platoon, or as large as a several reinforced battalions. The condition and status of each man, vehicle and weapon is kept track of for maximum realism.
Map size can vary in size from only a few hundred square meters to several kilometers, and can vary in type from an open desert to a dense forest impenetrable to vehicles to a highly built up urban area, and anything in between.
A typical scenario lasts about 20-60 turns, or 20-60 minutes of simulated combat.
Full Tables of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) for all the nations represented are modeled with thousands of different units, weapons, and vehicles available depending on the year, month and region. Vehicle and uniform models are meticulously researched and recreated in the game. Details include everything from period-accurate paint schemes to historically correct ammunition load-outs and all the way to such technical details as track ground pressure and gun muzzle velocity.
Thus far Combat Mission has been very welcoming to user-created content, and as a result the series has a very talented and eager community. Both generations of the game engine include a full-featured map and scenario editors, allowing users to create their own terrain, preselect units, and establishing objectives for the scenario. Hundreds, if not thousands, of user-made scenarios exist, many of which are made with a great deal of historical accuracy.
While the technical aspects of the game engine are hard-coded in order to preserve the integrity of the game, anything cosmetic can be modified – a feature which the community has taken a great advantage of to create custom content ranging from slight uniform modifications to a complete conversion to a different theater.