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The Eyes of the Innocent

July 20th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 13 Comments · Battlefront, Blogs

The reviews for Combat Mission: Shock Force haven’t started arriving in bulk yet, with only two on the ‘net at the moment.

Strategy game vet James Allen gives it top marks at Out of Eight (probably one of the best review sites for small titles and indie games, by the way).

Combat Mission newbie Tom Clark scores it a 7/10 at Ace Gamez, more I think because he thinks it’s supposed to be a 7 than because he actually likes it – it’s clear from the review that he doesn’t.

The Allen review is well written and the clear enthusiasm he has earns the title the full 8/8. He clearly enjoys the game, and when he loves a game, he loves a game. Though he loved Forge of Freedom, too, and I couldn’t even bring myself to finish reviewing it. Different strokes, I guess.

There are a lot of problems with the Clark review. The writing and organization need another pass, it gets cliches wrong and, as I said above, it seems like a 7 out of duty than out of conviction. And his site has a “Z” at the end.

I say this as one of the biggest fanboys of the Combat Mission series ever. I think the new guy is right.

There is no tutorial, something probably acceptable in a wargame seven years ago, but even this old hand here was a little confused. Not that a good manual is a bad thing, but in-game help is standard now. Shock Force is getting a huge marketing push, too, so it will reach a wider audience than the earlier games did, I think. Even Theatre of War had a tutorial.

The AI is poor. It will not try for its objectives in most circumstances and is content to just sit there while you pummel it with mortar fire. Even your own units drive like a drunken Lohan as they try to get out of each other’s way. Hey, soldier, I drew a straight line for you to follow. The opening campaign mission gives you a dozen vehicles, a narrow roadway and, shortly after exploding tanks because the armor just clogs the path.

It is slow, even on a high powered machine. I can run Oblivion perfectly on highest settings, but need to turn this wargame down if I don’t want the camera jerking all over the place. As the battles get larger, the screen gets more unmanageable. Yeah, it looks great, but the beauty isn’t functional.

My own review will follow me finishing up a bunch of work on my desk.


13 Comments so far ↓

  • James Allen

    Do you have an nVidia video card? If so, they found a problem with the drivers, and the developers are probably going to fix it for the 1.02 patch (1.01 is day-of-release). It seems that nVidia cards don’t handle multiple passes in rendering an object very well, and it results in poor performance and eventual freezing (at least for me).

    The pathfinding has gotten worse since the earlier betas for some reason: the tanks didn’t used to choke up the roads and drive in circles. The overall AI is up to the scenario designer as the strategic AI is scripted and the tactical AI does the best it can with its directions.

    You are right about the lack of a tutorial.

  • Troy

    Yep, nVidia. I hope that they do fix it.

  • James Allen

    They will. They know the cause and it’s just a matter of optimizing the polygons. They were going to do this before and ran out of time, but since nVidia users are experiencing problems with performance, they are planning on doing it.

  • Troy

    I would think this would have been caught earlier, and I am disappointed this is a 1.02 fix. While I write my review, this will be an issue and I can’t pretend it’s not. ;)

  • Bruce

    The game has a lot more problems than just the performance.

  • Troy

    The AI, UI and pathfinding are my biggest problems at the moment. The poor performance makes these even more aggravating. I just found out that I’m writing the review for Gameshark, so I won’t say much more than that I am very disappointed in CM:SF.

  • MikeO

    I haven’t played the game yet, but it surprises me that the UI and pathfinding are problems, since they seemed to have that stuff down pretty well in CM:BB and CM:AK.

    Bruce, are you going to be reviewing this?

  • Bruce

    I am, but the word count for the CGW review is only 250, so it will be short.

  • Ken Wootton

    So only the performance, AI, UI, and pathfinding are issues? That sounds like a great little summary to place under the score.

  • Moon

    Are you guys reviewing the release version at all? The Battlefront release version is 1.01. Contact me for details. It includes a tutorial campaign…

  • Troy

    Version 1.0 is what Paradox sent along. If the release version is something different, it’d be nice to see it.

  • juhhe

    Version 1.0 been playing for a while and must say it has some problems. Pathifinding is not good, actually it is bad. Performance is very poor, it seems that there must be something wrong as it is random. Sometimes runs smoothly and then stick completely. I have ATI card so no Nvidia driver bug can help me.
    Only 18 single battles and 1 campaign for version 1.0. Strange that the decision to publish different version through Paradox and Battlefront was made. I am TOTALLY dissapointed with the printed manual that was published with Paradox resellers version. Only 66 pages and focus for the first 20 odd pages is in completely wrong things. Battlefront should have enforced that Paradox publishes their product with the same 200 page printed manual as Battlefront will if I have understood this correctly.
    But lets wait and see what does the patch 1.01 fix.

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