Review by Slave99
"Close Combat in a 3D environment"
G.I. Combat is a real time, 3D, tactical war game set in Normandy during World War II. While not part of Close Combat franchise, many of the developers that worked on CC also worked on GIC. The interface is almost identical and comparisons are inevitable.
The graphics in GIC are a mixed bag. The soldier models and animations are superb. Each soldier runs across the terrain, his kit bouncing on his back, rifle held in any number of positions. Vehicle models are likewise excellent and highly detailed. I zoomed in on an M10 Hellcat and I could literally see the 5 o'clock shadow on the gunner's face. Weapon affects are nice. Muzzles flashes and tracer fire are well done. Grenades arc believably through the air but the smoke affects leave a little to be desired. Instead of transparent smoke, we get white, blocky blobs.
My one complaint about the soldiers and vehicles are the skins. They are detailed and well done but the colors are too dark and flat and greatly detract from the otherwise high-quality models. The vehicle skins are especially ugly. The Allied olive drab is too dark and the German panzers retain the same ugly, unrealistic, brownish-yellow of older Close Combat games.
As excellent as the soldier and vehicle models are the terrain is equally as bad. The fields are forests are dull and almost colorless. There is almost no elevation, which would have added a nice tactical element to game play. The one saving grace of the terrain is the well-rendered trees.
Gameplay is nearly indistinguishable from the 2D Close Combat games. If you've played them, you've played GI Combat. While the gameplay doesn't offer anything revolutionary for CC fans, the 3D engine adds depth to GIC's tactical element.
For gamers who have not had the pleasure of playing CC, brush up on your tactics and get ready to be slaughtered…but only for the first couple of times out. The game is deceptively simple. Get your troops to the victory objectives and hold them from counter attack. Under the hood there is where the meat of GIC lies. Each soldier's psychology is modeled in as painstaking detail as his weapon. More often than not, your soldiers will not do what you tell them. In the face of incoming fire, they will hit the dirt and stay there. Facing overwhelming odds, they will either run for the hills (if they existed in GIC's engine) or lead a desperate and heroic charge.
Unfortunately, many of the frustrations of CC still remain in GIC. Vehicle crews are still dunces. They are good for little more than stationary strong-points. To make matters even worse, enemy vehicle AI seems almost godlike. While defending a field surrounding by bocage, an Allied M4 crashed through my front line, decimating my grenadiers while my Marder was busy doing doughnuts a few hundred meters away, even though I had order it to defend. I frantically order the tank-destroyer to turn and fire but it decided to ram itself into a tree over and over before being wasted by the Sherman. This scenario has been reenacted many times over and has cost the lives of many of my virtual soldiers.
The game box and manual touts the realism of the capabilities of the numerous weapons used in GIC. I have routinely proved otherwise. If I can get my infantry to stay steady while facing enemy armor, a hail of rifle bullets is usually sufficient neutralize any tracked threat. I have recreated this feat a number of times without even having to close assault the enemy armor.
The controls are the essence of simplicity. Left click to select a unit, chose an order, left click to confirm. Easy, quick, and simple. My only complaint is that the camera controls are a bit awkward and take a while to get used to. Once camera control has been mastered, the different view options are quite powerful and will allow viewing the battlefield from any perspective.
One of the strongest points of CC was the audio. Soldiers yelled, screamed, and gave encouragement in their native language. Weapon sounds were truly scary and made me duck a number of times. I jumped straight out of my chair the first time my troopers encountered a Browning M2 machine gun.
There is one serious issue with soldier voices. If shot, both American and German troopers make the same ''AUGH!'' sound. This makes it extremely difficult to tell which side is taking casualties unless you actually see the trooper keel over. It wouldn't have been any big chore to created a second sound file that would have added to the realism of the game.
The audio in GIC is a huge step backwards from CC. My soldiers seemed almost shy and hardly said a word. What little they did say was too quiet and got lost in the gunfire. The weapon sounds lack punch and definition, like they are a copy of a copy of a copy of a recording of an actual M1 or MP-40 firing. Even larger guns mounted on vehicles simply weren't believable.
The lack of really impressive sounds hurt the immersion of GIC immeasurably.
GIC has no story or plot and doesn't need one.
Challenge and Replayability 10/10
GIC is extremely challenging. Your soldiers will die, no matter how careful you plan. Vehicles, even tanks, are fragile and easily destroyed. A number of options are available to make the game easier or harder, depending on the gamer's skill.
A limited number of scenarios are included with GIC. In one evening, I played through most of them. Fortunately, a scenario editor is included. If GIC gains support within gamer community, user created missions will add infinite replayability.
I noticed no major bugs. A small patch that fixes a number of minor issues is already available.
G.I. Combat won't offer much new except the 3D engine to veteran CC gamers. They will see more of the same, which isn't a bad thing.
New comers will find a challenging war game that requires tactics, caution, and forethought.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/07/02, Updated 11/07/02
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