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Combat Mission: Afrika Korps
Posted: 14/1/04 by Beta1 | Comments (37)

The level of detail in this CM is as amazing as ever. While many games have tanks with different armor thicknesses on different facings few have modelled as many different thicknesses and angles of plate as CMAK. Every type of shell from every gun in the game has penetration data drawn from historical records. If you can kill that StuG with a 6pdr from 800 yards it's a pretty good bet you could do it in real life (assuming you owned a Stug and a 6pdr). The Brits even wear shorts into battle in the desert - now that's accuracy.

While CMAK boasts a unit roster that makes most RTS games look miserly by comparison, a quick flick through the selection screens shows that as in the previous games many of these are different models of the same tank which play very very very much the same role in any situation. The inevitable 20 odd versions of the Sherman, spread across several nationalities. The usual line up of German tanks are present with many versions of each type of Panzer, including the Panther and Tiger. The Italians have about a couple of unique types of armor (although one of them also wins the award for "tank most likley to be destroyed by an enemy armed only with a piece of fruit"). The Brits have a huge selection of tanks. Two early war models that stand out are the Matilda - a tank so heavily armored its practically inpenetrable but armed with a peashooter and an engine so small it can barely do 15mph (OK so later Matildas featured in CMBB so they are not entirely new) and the many many variations of crusier tanks that can do upwards of 30mph but still fall apart rather too easily when shot at. In later stages of the war the Brits also get the heavily armoured Churchill tank and the Firefly armed with the 17pdr AT gun. The Americans have Chaffees and Stuarts as well as the ubiquitous Sherman. Other nationalities are also present although they have smaller unit rosters - the Free French, Poles, South African and ANZAC troops are all present.

British Crusaders in action, East Africa British long range desert patrol British Staghound scout car, Italy

There is also a first for the series, the M3 Grant/Lee, tanks with 2 main guns. There's also the "portee" AT guns - trucks mounted AT guns designed for quick deplyment and withdrawal from ambushes. Because let's face it if you don't kill the target tank quickly, you're going to want to get out of there pretty fast if all that stands between you and a 50mm AT round are the side panels of a truck. Air support is modelled as before - air attacks can be purchased but when/if the plane turns up is mostly luck and often the fly-boys will attack their own troops. So full marks for accuracy there.

The voice acting in CMAK is excellent with all the nationalities having a wide range of phrases for many different situations. The English speaking nations have some great lines. "Stick that in your pipe Fritz!" still cracks me up (in a suitably plumy brit accent of course). The Americans and the Australian/New Zealander/South African commonwealth troops all have their own accents and phrases as do the Germans and Italians, although as those are in German/Italian I have no idea what they are on about most of the time. One notable omission is the lack of any black/asian faces, which is sad as many of the British regiments that fought in the desert were from the asian/african colonies, as were some of the Italian troops. In BTS's defense this is due to an engine limitation as all the faces are drawn from the same textures and as a result while ethnic groups could be included they would appear at the same rate in all the forces - including German SS regiments and as a result were left out. One point that CDV can expect some legitimate complaints is that of their box information. On the back of the CDV box its states "Deploy thunderous tanks like Pershing, King Tiger or Firefly". Well sorry to disappoint but the Pershing and King Tiger are missing from CMAK for the simple reason that they were never deployed in this theatre. There's still some plenty of heavy armor though so all you treadheads out there probably won't miss them.

So to sum up, CMAK is the best CM game yet, which in my book makes it the best computer war game yet. All the technical improvments from BB are there with a few new tricks as well - although it still won't make coffee or clean your flat, it still will probably make your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife (delete as appropriate) think you've left them. Best of all it seems to have recaptured the magic that CMBO had. Well done BTS and CDV (but next time gives us a manual).
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