Mindscape – Close Combat IV review

Photo of Mindscape – Close Combat IV

Tanks for the memory. It’s getting on for sixty years since the end of the war, but the fascination continues, and war makes an excellent subject for a strategy game such as this. The ‘IV’ in the title demonstrates the staying power, but unlike, say, the Rocky films, this is a series where each instalment gets better.

A top-down strategy sim, Close Combat IV is a real-time game, so there’s no faffing around placing troops and waiting for the other player to take his (or its, in the case of the computer opponent) turn. Which is not to say it’s all action and no strategy – far from it. Quite apart from the importance of deploying troops and armament very carefully, there are new elements to this game that add an extra dash of realism.

For example, anyone with the smallest knowledge of war will know that marching your soldiers for days on end and then expecting them to be fresh for battle just doesn’t happen in real life. And it doesn’t happen in this game. Stress, fatigue and morale all play important parts in the game, and you ignore them at your peril.

Subtitled ‘the Battle of the Bulge’, there are no prizes for guessing what the game’s about. You can command either German or American troops, carry out – and experience – air attacks, and even spying and sabotage feature in the game. Add to this some highly convincing graphics and an interface that, while comprehensive, is not too complex, and you have a powerful combination.

Company: Mindscape

Close Combat IV provides a level of gritty realism that no future-based strategy game can match, purely because the player knows that this is a battle that really happened. That's no guarantee of the victor, though, and this is not a game for novice players. It's one for the soldier boys, combining a powerful real-time engine with random elements and soldiers that have attitude and emotions.