Reader Review! Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy

Sometimes it's good to get a reader review of a lesser known game, just to raise awareness and to get a viewpoint on a game you may otherwise have ignored. So we'd like to thank Chad Lennerts for taking the time to write about Combat Mission Battle for Normandy.

And the best reader review each month wins a Blu-ray pack courtesy of Madman.

Take it away Chad!

Not another WW2 game... but hold up this one is a little different. It's a strategy game with no base building, no spawning of units and no tech trees. The Combat Mission series has always unashamedly catered to a niche group of gamers – the military and history buffs. If Starcraft was really Call of Duty, Combat Mission would be ARMA II. Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy (hereafter CM:BN) is a return to developer/publisher Battlefront's late war western front roots after a foray into modern combat with their last outing, Combat Mission Shock Force. Armed with their new engine, they've managed to create a richly detailed strategy game with surprising depth, replay value and a robust scenario/campaign tools.

Loved Would you like your strategy served Real Time or Turn Based? – CM:BN is unique in that it can be played either as an RTS (with the ability to pause and issue orders as the player wishes) or turn based. The turn based system is known as WeGo, where the player inputs commands for all his units before pressing 'the big red button' for the turn to process. What follows is 60 seconds of uninterrupted video that can be viewed from any angle. This mode also comes in handy for playing multiplayer games via email, perfect for those gamers that are time poor.

Realism – The game can be completely unforgiving. Just like it was in 1944, artillery strikes may stray off the intended target. Tanks can get bogged just out of line of sight of the enemy while troop morale can plummet at just the wrong moment. The focus of the game has clearly gone into creating a simulation rather than a sporting RTS like Starcraft. The damage models for vehicles are mind boggling complex, where individual components of the vehicle can be damaged and tank commanders can be sniped. Every soldier is modelled on a 1:1 ratio with every bullet and grenade that squad carries being recorded. A number of scenarios are also based on actual engagements. Yes the skirmish from the D-Day episode of Band of Brothers is in there.

Modding and Community – The series has always had a dedicated community of modders and scenario designers who have provided alternative textures, sounds, music and interface to Combat Mission games over the years and they are already hard at work judging by the forums. The game is easy for users to apply mods, with the developers openly supporting this from the start.

Map Editor – A robust map editor, allows you to create detailed maps, scenarios and campaigns of linked battles. Mission objectives are more than simply take that hill/church/tree. Other objectives can include conserve forces, ammo, or targeting specific enemy units. No battle feels the same as a result.

Hated Let's party like it's 1999 – Battlefront is a small studio with a handful of employees that doesn't try to compete with your big publishers. Don't expect a big budget presentation or the most up to date graphics. Though this negative is helped by the active modding community it would have been nice to see the P-51 fly across the map dropping bombs rather than a shadow and a couple of bombs falling out of no where. It's a minor gripe but there are spots where the 'oh wow' factor simply isn't there compared to your more mainstream games. On the plus side you don't need a powerful computer to run it!

Balance – The game is meant to be more of a simulation than a balanced RTS. You'll come to hate MG42's, mortars and Panther tanks for good reason. Scenarios need to be well designed to get the most out of the game and can be effectively over quickly if you have a run of bad luck.

CM:BN isn't a game for everyone but if you fall into the military/history buff category then it's definitely worth a look. What has just been released is the base game which includes US (inc Airborne) and German Army forces. Upcoming modules will introduce Commonwealth forces, Waffen SS and extend the theatre to cover Operation Market Garden. You can try a demo and purchase the game directly via the developer's website.


    TYhis game actually sounds pretty bloody rad!

    Where can you get it and what's the price of admission?

    How does it compare to Men of War?

      Similarly, how does it compare to Order of War?

        How does it compare to Gears of War?

          How does it compare to God of War?

            How does it compare to... er... Halo Wars?

            I tried.

              oh so close, but the answer is incorrect. The answer we were looking for was:

              "How does it compare to Rights of War?"

                *see Rites of War

                *le sigh*

                  But really, how does it compare to Theatre of War?

      Very different. CM in my mind is a lot more robust than Man of War or the old Close Combat series etc. Biggest difference from the start you'll notice is the 3D simulation of battle with a fully controllable camera. The size of the battles can also vary from few squads in size to a reinforced battalion.

    Kotaku not liking my comments :(

    The Developer's website -

    I just don't think I can fight through the hedgerows of Normandy again. I know that the last time I said that, Relic made me a liar by releasing the incredible Company of Heroes, but I doubt there is anything that could get me over the line again.

    And map editor was awesome fun. I once made a map of my neighbourhood with my house as HQ with only a few crack soldiers to guard it against a couple of hundred green German infantry men. Spent so many hours replaying that scenario.

    Oh the mayhem! And yes hard to believe I didn't have a girlfriend at the time :-)

    I had some problems earlier trying to post a comment. is the website for those interested.

    I remember playing the thorough heck out of Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord as a younger lad. Fantastic games that do a good job of marrying tabletop wargames with a more realistic aesthetic.

      This is the next generation of Beyond Overlord. And that original game almost cost me my first year at uni. :P

    Nice review Chad! Might see if I can get a demo of this title!

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