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Combat Mission Red Thunder Review

by Kevin Kennedy on April 14, 2014
REVIEWS
WHAT WE LIKED

Attention to detail.

WHAT WE DISLIKED

Very poor controls. Slow gameplay. No feedback.

THE VERDICT
OUR SCORE
YOUR SCORE
Rate Here
GRAPHICS
50%
72%
AUDIO
50%
63%
GAMEPLAY
30%
83%
REPLAYABILITY
40%
86%
VALUE
40%
66%
OUR FINAL THOUGHTS !

Too slow and unwieldy to be fun or entertaining. For military buffs only.

42%
VERDICT
74%
YOUR VERDICT
You have rated this

Combat Mission Red Thunder Review

 

cmbt_mission_red_thunder_bnrRed Thunder is another entry to the Command Mission series. A set of RTS games that pride themselves in historical accuracy and military specs. The game has garnered a small, dedicated following over the years for that reason, though during my time with the game, I found it to be rather slow, unwieldy and unresponsive.

For the most part, missions have you start at one section of the map and have you work your way across, stopping off at markers along the way. The game can be played in either Real time mode or turn based. Real time is at it sounds, while turn based pauses the action every minute to give you time to plan out the following minutes actions, not to dissimilar from Frozen Synapse.

There isn’t much variety in the missions, mostly you just move through the environment killing enemies. One level does have you defending a hill, but that’s about it. This would be fine if the controls were good, but this just isn’t a very fun game to play for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s slow. Orders have to be given individually. While the option to give the same order to multiple units does exist, troops won’t move to the same location, except they’ll move to the location relative to them (A troop to the left of the selection will always arrive to the left of the location, even if it’s in a minefield).

This ties into my second reason; the controls are very awkward. Even if you do decide to give everyone the same order, you may decide to change your mind. You may think this is a simple matter of selecting all your troops again and simply selecting a new course of action, but no, instead this will simply add to the order queue. You instead have to select each troop individually and set new course for them. These complaints may sound petty but they crop up each and every time you have to proceed and add up to be quite annoying.

Admittedly, these grievances may not bother some who are looking for a slower, more realistic war game if they are willing to take their CMRT30atime, though the fun hardly starts once the battles begin. Something that got to me after a while was that I wasn’t even sure if the tactics I was using were even being effective after a while. Does hiding behind cover help? How about high ground? Even knowing if my troops are dead or even hurt was something I could never figure out.

Perhaps I’m too spoiled by games like X:COM and the previously mentioned Frozen Synapse which actually gave visual feedback of such things. Gunfights would take place, I’d try to outflank the enemy (which took long enough with the less than stellar controls) and seemed to come to the same results than if I were just to assault them head on. I’m sure there is depth to be found here, I just couldn’t find it.

A lot of my problems can be solved with one simple step: a well thought out and thorough tutorial. The “T” word is sometimes seen as quite dirty in games but I’ve always felt that RTS games (or certain variations of the genre) were somewhat exempt from the rule as there is always so much to learn from, controls to advanced tactics. Here however, no such things exists. The closest we get is a training level which acts as a simple battle, but doesn’t teach the mechanics of the game. As a result I left the training level with no extra information or experience than before I went in. It may well be that fans have already surmounted the barrier, but not much is done to appease new players.

2I’ve spewed a lot of negativity in this review, but that’s just because those are the points that stand out to me. At the end of the day, the mechanics, while hardly perfect, get the job done and with a little practice I eventually came to grips with the controls. Though I would be lying if I said I had enjoyed myself.

The major feeling I got whilst playing this game is that it was more about the militaristic accuracy than it was about the gameplay. While the game is hardly a looker in any sense as missions take place on some floating square in the abyss, there are some nice touches. For the military buffs out there, you can zoom in on the soldiers and transport for some authentic details. It is also nice to hear sound FX the closer you get to the action, from soldiers’ footsteps, there chatting with each other or the rumbling of the tanks.

While Combat Mission Red Thunder is a perfectly functional game, I can’t bring myself to recommend it to anyone other than military buffs. It’s just far too slow and cumbersome for me to recommend to anyone else. It clearly has it’s fans, I’m just not one of them.

 

SOME INFO !
Item Reviewed

Combat Mission Red Thunder Review

Author
April 14, 2014
PUBLISHER

BattleFront

DEVELOPER

BattleFront

GENRE

RTS

RELEASE DATE

4th April 2014

PEGI

12

VERSION REVIEWED

PC

MULTIPLAYER

Yes

What's your reaction?
EXCITED!
0%
CHEERS
0%
WHAT!?
0%
MEH.......
0%
LET DOWN!
0%
RAGE!!
56%
WANT IT!
11%
DISAGREE!
33%
comments
Leave a reply
  • sfhand
    June 2, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAJnW8zTUQs

    Here is a link to a video series of a dev walking through the tutorial from the manual. Combat Mission (all titles) is a very deep and complicated game, definitely a game that shouldn’t be reviewed by people who are new to it. RPS’s Tim Stone seems to enjoy the gameplay in his 2 part Flare Path scenario walkthrough. You should check it out if you are curious about how CM’s gameplay can be enjoyed.

    Also, the game comes with a full feature editor which allows the community to make scenarios and campaigns (which the community does) allowing new content to be played long after the title’s release. There are also hundreds of “quickbattle” maps that ship with the game. There is also the mulitplayer aspect of the game where playing a stock scenario against a different opponent can lead to a vastly different experience. I’m not sure how one rates replayability @ 40% without completely ignoring these factors.

  • Michael Dorosh
    June 28, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    A review tailored more for wargamers can be found at http://www.wargamer.com/article/3563/pc-game-preview-combat-mission-red-thunder – the author of this review has made it clear that military simulations aren’t his thing, which is fair enough. For those who do enjoy that kind of game, it may be more to their advantage to read a review by someone who knows something about them.

  • Keil
    July 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ6dDlqye9Q

    This is a link to a series of 6 tutorials by armchair general website. These tutorials do not explain neither the interface nor the controls, but rather the thinking required to play this game. I would recommend watching at least the first one before playing this game. I sure wish the reviewer had done more homework before posting this “review”.

    Look up Red Thunders predecessor on metacritic for a more balanced view on this game series:

    http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/combat-mission-battle-for-normandy

  • Johnny
    July 2, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    All your points may well be valid, but I agree that this game has a niche audience that you all seem to be part of, reviews are opinions, and that is simply his opinion and it should be respected as such. Just as I have respected your views and allowed them to exist on this page.

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