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Posted on Aug 4, 2009 in Electronic Games

Combat Mission Shock Force: British Forces – PC Game Review

By Rick Martin

Combat Mission Shock Force: British Forces
Developed & Published by Battlefront.com. $25.00 download (hardcopy add S&H)

Passed Inspection: Amazingly detailed and playable expansion to the Combat Mission: Shock Force line of games. Campaign is very challenging. High replay value.

Failed Basic: Limited control over unit choices in quick battles. Fuzzy objectives.

The heart of the expansion is not just the instant battles and missions but a thoughtfully designed new branching campaign which follows the Highlanders Battle Group, 7th Armoured Brigade in its battles through Syria.

Battlefront’s Combat Mission line of games have been the true gold of PC war games for the last 8 years. The original trilogy of Combat Mission games took us from France in 1944 to North Africa, Italy and the Russian Front. With Combat Mission: Shock Force, Battlefront has updated the game engine and moved the game’s scope to a modern war against Syria. Combat Mission: Shock Force – British Forces is the newest expansion to the franchise and will not disappoint. (The first expansion in the series was CMSF – Marines; see ACG review. – Editor)

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The expansion is easy to install and set up. The user can control the graphic scope of the game to conform to their computer’s power. From high-end systems to the system I tested it on (a Frankenstein’s monster computer with 1.5 GHz, 1 gig of memory and a 64 Meg graphics card), the game plays fast and furious and looks great to boot! It uses the standard Combat Mission: Shock Force interface.

The game’s premise is that in 2008, while the US Marines and the US Army invade Syria from two different directions, the British forge a new front in order to pin down the Syrian military.

The British forces have all their standard equipment including the Scimitar, Spartan and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles as well as the Challenger 2 main battle tank and Jackal patrol vehicle. In fact, the British seem to have a large amount of IVFs in their orders of battle-making for some very interesting variations during battles. The infantry uses variations of the L85 assault rifles as well as the L22A2 and the L86A2. This game also adds on-screen mortars for the Brits to pound their enemies with. Of course, the mortars have to be effectively deployed or else they and their crew are sitting ducks for enemy fire.

Also included in this expansion is an addition to the American order of battle, the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The IBCT philosophy dictates a force which can deploy rapidly like a light assault force but pack heavy firepower like an armored force. The IBCT’s main vehicle is a version of the LAV III.

The expansion includes amazing new graphics for the British forces as well as British-accented voices for added realism.

The heart of the expansion is not just the instant battles and missions but a thoughtfully designed new branching campaign which follows the Highlanders Battle Group, 7th Armoured Brigade in its battles through Syria. During the first two campaign battles, many little details will surprise gamers. From Iraqi dissidents to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the players will have to be on their toes to avoid messy situations.

For example, in one mission, I split my forces in to a pincer action. One group came upon three strange looking piles of rubble near a suspected Syrian command post in a city. I sent a fire team out from inside their vehicle and they managed to snipe a dissident in an adjacent building who was spotting for the IEDs. We managed to avoid what could have been a devastating series of explosions. After neutralizing the IEDs, we stormed the command post and removed its occupants from the fight.

I only found a few flaws with the game, and these flaws are inherent in the main Combat Mission: Shock Force game and in its first expansion as well. For starters, I found some problems with the “fuzzy logic” to determine victory. In the original Combat Mission World War 2 games, you could rapidly determine what areas needed to be cleared to achieve victory in a given battle. In Shock Force, players may think they have achieved their goals only to find out that some tasks have been left unaccomplished. While this is perhaps more realistic than the World War 2 Combat Missions, it is frustrating from this reviewer’s perspective.

The second flaw in the Shock Force franchise lies in the instant-action set up. In the World War 2 Combat Mission games, you could pick your units and form your platoons as you saw fit. For example, for a certain number of points, I could pick a small game with a Tiger II tank and a squad of Panzer Grenadiers. In Shock Force, the player picks the parameters of the action and the program assigns the units. There were times when I wanted to try out a Syrian T-72 against a Challenger II instead of playing what the program picked for me but couldn’t find a way to do it.

These few annoyances not withstanding, Combat Mission: Shock Force – British Forces is an excellent expansion for an extremely fascinating, realistic and addictive franchise. It is highly recommended.

Armchair General score: 92%

ACG Intel:

Battlefront.com / CMSF: British Forces

6 Comments

  1. How can the replayability be high, when the quick mission generator is so crappy?? (I know, I have CMSF)

  2. There is more to the game than the Quick Battles. ;)

  3. I have to wonder though if the screen shots might have been taken from the Frankenstein computer mentioned in the review. Everything certainly looks much better on my computer. I too want the old CM quick battles but it doesn’t take away all the great things you get in CM:SF.

  4. Well, the graphics actually seem tuned down to me – I’m playing this excellent game on an ordinary up-to-date laptop and enjoy much better quality – I’m using the best level for the 3d-models.
    This game has truly become a gem – though I have to agree that the Quick-battle function isn’t very good at the moment.

    On the other hand – the scenario editor will let you set up simple mission in five minutes – if you want more complex battles you’ll have to spend some more time in the editor.

  5. Just a note, the Shock Force Series of game & modules is excellent! A lot of action & a lot of fun. Now the bad. Combat Mission’s customer service is deplorable. It’s a “who cares if you’re not happy” attitude. $10.00 for a CD hard copy & $20.00 shipping & handling, $30.00 total. You get a CD in a jewel case sent in an USPS Priority Mail envelope. No kind of protection, period. No CD cover. No manual. Bring this up to them & you can get banned from their forum. Go check for yourselves. Battlefront make great games but their staff/owners need to be brought up to speed on how to treat a customer. They are clueless in this department. Definitely buy the games, just buyer’s beware on any help or service.

  6. @Strykersrevenge
    That s over 100% true! The customer service is sh…t!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Combat Mission Shock Force: Marines - PC Game Review » Armchair General - [...] Aug 4, 2009: Combat Mission Shock Force: British Forces - PC Game Review » Armchair General [...]
  2. History Roundup 07-08-2009 « Great History - [...] Mission Shock Force: Marines and Combat Mission Shock Force: British Forces. Two PC game reviews from Armchair [...]

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