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  • Combat Mission - Shock Force Review

    http://www.armchairgeneral.com/artic...&page=1&cat=59

    Comments?

  • #2
    Adam... hmm...

    I don't own the game. My impressions are based solely upon the demo, those that have played it, and the GameSpot review, which by the way, is considered by the BF community to be pretty much "spot" on. No phun intended.

    I thought the review was way off, IMHO. The way to properly review a game, is to conduct tests on several different systems. That's been the norm for professional reviewers for years.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Marines View Post
      Adam... hmm...

      I thought the review was way off, IMHO. The way to properly review a game, is to conduct tests on several different systems. That's been the norm for professional reviewers for years.
      I don't see anything wrong with the review. Larry is an experienced reviewer and does a good job at putting a game in a larger context within the wargame community. He reviews it on a mid-range XP box, which is probably what the bulk of our readers are using (myself included).

      By the by, maybe they review games on multiple systems at Gamespot where they have dedicated in-house staff, but I've been running this site and dealing with several other admins who do reviews and none of us require a reviewer to test games on more than one PC or force them to use the latest hardware/graphics. It is certainly not the norm for us. Would I like everyone to review games using high end stuff? Hell yeah. But that just isn't realistic to expect all the time...

      Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

      I write books about zombies as E.E. Isherwood. Check me out at ZombieBooks.net.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Siberian HEAT View Post
        I don't see anything wrong with the review. Larry is an experienced reviewer and does a good job at putting a game in a larger context within the wargame community. He reviews it on a mid-range XP box, which is probably what the bulk of our readers are using (myself included).
        LOL! Sorry bro, but it doesn't matter what you and others might be running, especially if their like systems. What matters is that the game is PROPERLY tested on multiple systems, as is the NORM. The inability or lack there of, gives the impression that it runs almost flawlessly on most systems, other than those that utilize Vista as a OS per the review.

        Also, could you please provide a statistic that shows what "the bulk" of ACGers boxes encompass?

        By the by, maybe they review games on multiple systems at Gamespot where they have dedicated in-house staff, but I've been running this site and dealing with several other admins who do reviews and none of us require a reviewer to test games on more than one PC or force them to use the latest hardware/graphics. It is certainly not the norm for us. Would I like everyone to review games using high end stuff? Hell yeah. But that just isn't realistic to expect all the time...

        No offense, but that's rather laughable. A proper review would entail leaching. Several copies being sent out to different spec users at one time, per three, and reporting said findings to the reviewer. Low, mid, and high at the very least would have been a proper review. For example, my AMD 64 X2 5000+, 3G RAM, and my very low-end 7900 GS OC runs the demo like a bag of ass. But my P4 1.8, 512 RAM, with a 9800 Pro runs it almost flawlessly. Said findings can only reveal that it was developed using elderly tools, and tested on older machinery.

        An semi-accurate review... that most BF forum members tend to agree with.

        Combat Mission says good-bye to WWII, but hello to an inept interface, broken AI, and hideous visuals.

        4.5 out of 10

        The Good - Contemporary Middle East replaces the seen-it-all WWII battles of past games - Great potential.

        The Bad - Clumsy user interface - Missions feel scripted due to gimmicks like unconventional forces - AI is either broken or overly reliant on triggers - Ugly visuals.

        Back when the Combat Mission series began in 2000, it was a revelation. The Battlefront wargame set during World War II was authentic and unflinching enough to earn the grognard's seal of approval, yet also so downright approachable that it didn't scare off newbies looking for something a little more realistic than the run-of-the-mill RTS. Sequels have only built on this greatness, too, which means that expectations rise awfully high whenever a new addition to the family comes along.

        So it's hard not to feel let down by Combat Mission: Shock Force. This is more of a members-only wargame, with an unforgiving interface and so many intricacies that even those familiar with the earlier games in the series will find themselves lost over and over again during the first few hours of play. Even worse, there isn't much here to reward diehards who struggle through the grueling early going. Artificial intelligence is largely missing in action, scenarios feel gimmicky and prearranged, and just about everything seems rough and unfinished. Battlefront has already shown its willingness to improve the game, having released a version 1.01 patch on the day of the game's online launch that addresses some issues, but a tremendous amount of work remains.

        At least Battlefront started with a good idea. Instead of going back for yet another visit to Adolf and Uncle Joe, CM: Shock Force moves the setting to a near-future battleground in the Middle East. Instead of creeping through French hedgerows or rolling Panzers over farm fields, the campaign, one-off battles, and multiplayer engagements are based on the notion of the US invading Syria in 2009 to topple its leaders. The background story and war depicted here is really a straight copy of what happened with 9/11 and Afghanistan, although you've still got to give Battlefront points for trying.

        Zeroing in on yet another stationary Syrian enemy.
        Not that the story and setting really matter much in the end. It's tough to get deep enough into the game to appreciate what's going on in the Syrian sands, particularly if you've never played the previous Combat Missions. Battlefront has added a training campaign to the game with the 1.01 patch (the launch game had no tutorial whatsoever, so you had to rely on fumbling your way through small-scale missions like Al Huqf Engagement to figure out what was going on), although it isn't nearly comprehensive enough to address the many ins and outs of modern combat presented here. The manual doesn't help a great deal, either. While lots of information is stuffed into its 200-plus pages, this PDF tome is laid out like reference material geared solely to answer specific questions. And this is one game that needs a manual to take you by the hand. The interface is jammed with text that's about the same size as the fine print on auto-rental contracts, along with numerous tiny buttons bereft of context or tool tips. Hotkeys are supported, but you can't change them without editing a text file in Windows, and they annoyingly change function depending on what you're doing at the time you hit them. When you move, for example, the "I" key is "Quick," but when you're in combat "I" stands for "Target Light." Good idea, guys. Everything is so clunky and archaic, it's amazing that Battlefront doesn't include a code wheel for look-up copy protection.

        Gameplay itself doesn't feel quite right, either. Battlefront has attempted to revamp the combat engine with the option to play in real time, in addition to the familiar turn-based WeGo system from the earlier games in the series. This new feature is very hard to appreciate, however, due to some big glitches. Pathfinding is absolutely awful, albeit improved in the 1.01 patch from the horror show on display in the original build. Soldiers still run into one another constantly and take the long way around buildings. Vehicles slam into each other and swivel in place. Even something really simple, like ordering a bunch of Stryker combat vehicles to move straight ahead, results in a panicky fire drill when they're in close quarters, with the trucks driving every which way but the one you selected. Similar problems are apparent when playing with WeGo, although it's easier to adjust to them by using lots of waypoints.

        Enemy AI is just as hit-and-miss as the pathfinding. Again, it's better with the 1.01 patch than it was in the original release (sensing a trend here?), but foes still often hold their positions and fire back only after you've initiated an attack. Even in missions where you're supposed to be competing for an objective, AI troops will sometimes mindlessly hang back and wait for you to move in and slaughter them. It's almost as if units have little, if any, functioning AI and are responding solely to battlefield triggers.

        A column of Strykers looks pretty menacing when standing still, but a Keystone Kops routine kicks up as soon as the vehicles start to move.
        And this isn't the only reason that CM: Shock Force combat lacks authenticity. Although the battles here are all about modern asymmetrical warfare such as that currently being waged in Iraq between the US and ragtag local insurgents, the game is still very much a creature of the Second World War. All Battlefront has really done is shoehorn its old approach into very different theater of war where the sides are wildly lopsided, not fairly even like it was in many WW II engagements. Syria's military isn't anywhere near that of a superpower right now, so there's a real credibility gap in having them match up so evenly with US forces.

        Also, the gimmick of unconventional forces is used to balance the two sides on occasion. Basically this means that thugs in civvies pop out from the civilian population every now and again to say hello with rocket launchers. This is a great idea that seems pulled from the daily headlines coming out of Iraq. But it's executed terribly, as civilian populations aren't depicted in the game. Unconventional enemies are invisible to the Yanks until they either flat-out attack or come so close to units that they apparently become suspicious enough to warrant a closer look. Of course, all you actually see are goons materializing out of nowhere with IEDs at the ready, which makes the whole concept seem like an AI cheat.

        Criticisms can also be leveled at the graphics and sound. While nobody expects boutique wargames to be gorgeous, CM: Shock Force is downright hideous. Battle landscapes are grainy and seem to float on top of a backdrop. Every map is dominated by desert terrain, even though the real Syria is actually quite geographically diverse. Weird artifacts clutter up the landscape and flashes regularly make parts of the terrain twinkle and vanish like some Arabian Brigadoon. Yet even though the game was thoroughly clubbed with the ugly stick, it remains a system hog. Technical problems constantly interfere with gameplay, especially in the real-time mode. Constant hitches when zooming in and out and odd delays when rotating the camera angle mean that you regularly have to pause to give orders. Audio seems almost random. Syrians speak in a repetitive, muddled Arabic that sounds like they're saying "Yella!" ("Come on!") over and over again. Granted, you do hear this a lot in the Middle East as the word is casually used like "Hey!" is in the US, but here it's said so much that it sounds like the speakers are stuttering. Weapon effects are better, at least, as are the comments from US troops, which seem pretty well-suited to specific combat situations.

        What more can be said? CM: Shock Force is a tremendous disappointment. There is still a great deal of promise here, Battlefront has already started whipping the game into shape through what will no doubt be a long succession of patches, and the diehard fan base will undoubtedly use the included editor to make some impressive battles. Even so, no game should be released in such a rough, incomplete state.
        EDIT - From a long-time CM fan

        First they throw out the highly hyped "Theatre of War" which turned out to be a complete mess, insane AI, no LOS restrictions, boring scripted scenarios, then the arrogant forum reps from Battlefront ban anyone who had the temerity to critique this stinker. Their cop out is that they didn't design the game, they only published it.

        Well here comes CMSF, this is thier baby, designed by them, and what does it endup being, a turkey even larger then TOW, crappy graphics, unreliable AI, unreliable LOF (tracers going throughthe ground and muliple buildings) poor user interface, etc. etc. This turkey is getting hammered by the reviewers, in fact GameSpots 4.5 rating is what I would call downright charitable.

        It is quite obvious that the arrogant crew over Battlefront have sold out their credibility and reputation to make a quick buck putting out garbage. Shame of it is their previous Combat Mission series was/is the finest tactical computer wargame ever put out.

        Oh well, I'm sure that after their company folds from screwing their loyal fanbase, they will take their ill begotten monies and run. Shame on them!
        Ouch!
        Last edited by Marines; 17 Aug 07, 19:41.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for your feedback. Different sites have WIDELY divergent views of the title, ranging from 45% to 95% rating. Larry gave his honest opinion, which I trust and which is the only requirement I ask of my reviewers. If every review out there was 45% I'd be worried...but we don't base our reviews on what other forums are saying this game should be rated. We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
          Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

          I write books about zombies as E.E. Isherwood. Check me out at ZombieBooks.net.

          Comment


          • #6
            My own take is that the review is very accurate.

            This is an excellent game that in time will evolve into a superb game.

            The reviewers puts and takes on the game line up very closely with my experience playing this game so far.
            Publisher
            Armchair General Magazine
            Weider History Group

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Adam Faubert View Post
              I like this review. I certainly has a focus on the positive things, but it is mentions annoyances with enough accuracy.

              The game runs flawless (from a technical perspective) on my rig, too. I still think people who got Vista got what they deserved and I am sure I could have solved dual-core problems if I had any.

              %%

              About the gamespot review:

              I wanted to take the time to write a paragraph by paragraph answer to the gamespot review, BTW. I think the gamespot review gets most points right but weights them the wrong way. While I don't disagree with any particular point in the gamespot review there is the issue that for people who CM:SF is made for the weighting should be different.

              While I ended up with a negative opinion about CM:SF myself, I certainly rate it higher than 45% for the intended audience. The overly broad assumption about audience is like giving Half-Life 2 a 30% because it doesn't suit your grandmother. It's not supposed to and for the people with an interest in that kind of game it rates higher.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Marines View Post
                No offense, but that's rather laughable. A proper review would entail leaching. Several copies being sent out to different spec users at one time, per three, and reporting said findings to the reviewer. Low, mid, and high at the very least would have been a proper review. For example, my AMD 64 X2 5000+, 3G RAM, and my very low-end 7900 GS OC runs the demo like a bag of ass. But my P4 1.8, 512 RAM, with a 9800 Pro runs it almost flawlessly. Said findings can only reveal that it was developed using elderly tools, and tested on older machinery.
                I hate to say it, but you are entirely wrong about this. I am tired of having to upgrade my computer every time a new game comes out. I'm happier than a fly on a pile of crap to be able to run SF on both of my computers that are 3 years old. The games I designed with ProSIM were designed to run on the older systems, because most grognards do NOT buy a new system or upgrade every 6mos to a year...they can't afford it.

                I have also done a fair amount of testing of games, my own included, and if there is one thing that is a constant fact...you can NEVER be 100% certain that you've tested everything. It's even harder when you have very little money and you want to keep the project a "secret".

                BFC is NOT EA, and they will likely never be even close. EA can afford to run massive multiplayer servers and open a beta so that there are magnitudes more systems loading and running the software.

                And even then, BF2 and its successor are STILL buggier than hell on some setups.

                You have to be realistic and understanding. Look at how long ArmA was in development, and it's not even a giant leap forward in technology from its predecessor!

                BTW, ArmA is on the cusp of going into the trash because, no matter what I do, It still crashes to desktop when I try and join a multiplayer game. CM:SF has yet to crash on my crappy machines, and I'm getting ready to try it out on a new state-of-the-art laptop running Vista Ultimate. If it runs fine right off the bat, I'm going to call all of these people who claim to be having issues liars!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Interesting...
                  This thread over at the BFC forum shows a cumulative review score of 69% for CMSF as of August 14.

                  duh...forgot that internety-thingy link-type thing...
                  http://www.battlefront.com/discuss/u...;f=52;t=002574


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                  Last edited by Patrocles; 18 Aug 07, 08:12. Reason: all your CMSF are belong to U.S.
                  All your ACG posts are belong to us!

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                  • #10
                    The thing with the reviews, including this one and the gamespot one, is that they all mention the same things, but weight them differently.

                    %%

                    About the hardware:

                    I don't think there is any good excuse to have the game not run with Mickeysoft's current OS on the second most sold graphics card series on the market (Vista and ATI). This shouldn't have happened.

                    The dual-core mess is not clear enough, not everybody is affected and it's a complex issue with numerous OS changes that might or might not apply.

                    I ask: so Paradox made them release that piece of junk 1.00 to the public, and of course you have to do this to obey to your publisher. But what about the publisher's resposibilities? Do they have any kind of QA in Paradox? I don't mean that Paradox should review pathfinding or the TacAI, but sureley they have some kind of hardware testing lab? Surely they must have fired up the game on Vista on an ATI card

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                    • #11
                      CMSF is designed as a RT game playing it vs. AI and thats how it should be played. If u like RT good if u expect turn based and or WEGO forget about it. Yes it does have a so called WEGO option but it does not work properly and is WEGO only in name.

                      Even if u like RT I would still recommend to wait. The game as a early beta release at best and has tons of bugs. Also the AI sucks completly. there are several problems like LOS and LOF through solid ground or walls. that has to do with the abstraction that does not fit as well as with the old CM. As it happens u can park your tank 10 meters away from an enemy tank on open ground and not be able to see it. Why because u see open ground but the comp does see a blocked LOS due to abstraction.
                      you can also hide your guys in a trench but they get shot at because the terrain around the trench does not exist for the comp due to abstraction again.
                      Steve from BFC admitted that some of the problems cannot be solved because they are game design and engine related. So i say if the major problems are bugs wait until they have the patches out and get it then. If the major problems are design related and cannot be fixed dont waste your money.
                      "Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube"
                      (May others wage war, you lucky Austria marry)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Fritzthemoose View Post
                        CMSF is designed as a RT game playing it vs. AI and thats how it should be played. If u like RT good if u expect turn based and or WEGO forget about it. Yes it does have a so called WEGO option but it does not work properly and is WEGO only in name.
                        This is not true. PBEM is broken and there's no WEGO in TCP for now. But WEGO against the AI and hotseat works just fine (aka as well as RT).

                        Originally posted by Fritzthemoose View Post

                        Even if u like RT I would still recommend to wait. The game as a early beta release at best and has tons of bugs. Also the AI sucks completly. there are several problems like LOS and LOF through solid ground or walls.
                        True, but these are sure to be fixed in 1.03. These are clear bugs as in code not doing that it's supposed to. I am more concerned about items where BFC mistakenly actually wants what the code does, or considers things too hard to fix to even try.

                        Originally posted by Fritzthemoose View Post
                        that has to do with the abstraction that does not fit as well as with the old CM. As it happens u can park your tank 10 meters away from an enemy tank on open ground and not be able to see it. Why because u see open ground but the comp does see a blocked LOS due to abstraction.
                        Yeah, but this is an example of what isn't going to go away.

                        BFC went overboard with who can (not) see who on the battlefield, and that's a design decision and mostly likely will stay.

                        Originally posted by Fritzthemoose View Post

                        you can also hide your guys in a trench but they get shot at because the terrain around the trench does not exist for the comp due to abstraction again.
                        No, that is because for whatever reason the system with placeable, FOW trenches and non-placeable, non-FOW sandbag emplacements has now been turned into non-placeable, non-FOW trenches. The reason for this escapes me.

                        Originally posted by Fritzthemoose View Post
                        Steve from BFC admitted that some of the problems cannot be solved because they are game design and engine related. So i say if the major problems are bugs wait until they have the patches out and get it then. If the major problems are design related and cannot be fixed dont waste your money.
                        Exactly.

                        However, on the BFC forum I have seen Steve going softer on his "design locks" than he used to, so there is hope.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Redwolf View Post
                          This is not true. PBEM is broken and there's no WEGO in TCP for now. But WEGO against the AI and hotseat works just fine (aka as well as RT).
                          yes but the game was designed for RT and thats how it plays best. Some of the commands dont stack up which is no problem for RT but in WEGO it is. Also due to the limited and only soso working option for play vs. human it is a basically a play vs. AI game

                          also terrain is modelled in 8m units with the los pointing to the middle of the unit. that means, if i understood it right, if a terrain unit is labeled as a house and for whatever reason the unit extends into a street LOS is blocked even if the player sees open ground. so u can have a tank behind there u dont see him even if staying only a few meters away on an open street

                          I am not sure if this can be fixed and if not the game becomes unplayable
                          "Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube"
                          (May others wage war, you lucky Austria marry)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Adam Faubert View Post
                            OK, finally read the review from ACG. I'm not sold on the "highly recommended wargame" tagline as of yet due to the multitude of other reviews and player criticisms of the game bugs in CMSF.

                            I'm sure the game will only get better with time and patches. At this time it is not on my 'buy list.' I will be keeping on eye on CMSF to see how it improves with each patch released by BF for a potential purchase in the future.
                            All your ACG posts are belong to us!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              so is the game any good or not gents those who have it ...
                              owner of the yahoo group for WW1 ,WW2 and Modern TO&Es
                              (Tables of organisation & equipment or Unit of action )

                              http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/TOandEs/

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