Mobile Game Review: Combat Mission: Touch
New writer Charles Cabell hits the beaches and tackles hedgerows in the Combat Mission conversion to the mobile platform.
Mobile Devices: iPad 2, The New iPad, iPhone 4/4S, iPod Touch 4 Gen, and many Android devices.
What is it about historical warfare games that just suck me in? Even when I was little, my buddies and I used to run around in the woods with sticks, pretending we were shooting at each other. Needless to say, I love a good tactical game. When I heard about this game coming out I was pretty excited. I play a lot of tactical World War 2 PC and board games, so this game seemed to be right up my alley. It had everything I was looking for. Plus, I am a huge fan of “Normandy” games. I really like the unit details of this theatre, not to mention the historical situations. This is why I found Combat Mission: Touch so interesting. Not only do games like this require a study for utilizing your assets, terrain and tactical advantages, but you feel a certain connection with the people who fought there. Also, you can better understand the courage it took to fight in battles like this.
So what's the object of the game? It's pretty simple really: to take the objective before your turn marker runs out. Each unit has special abilities, and learning how to use these powers is a large portion of the game. It is truly amazing to stand back and look at the advantages in technology, and how they were used to better the enemy on the battlefield. At one time, cavalry ran the field. But in a game like this, you start understanding the chess-like mechanics of warfare, of infantry and tanks versus bazookas and artillery. Each unit has its own role to play, and learning how to use them right is key.
There are 7 scenarios and they all seem well balanced. You can also play both sides in each scenario, which I do quite a bit just to get a better perspective of the initial deployments and OOB’s of each army. You watch a little preview showing the battlefield and your objectives, and then you get to setup your troops... not bad. There is a lot of flexibility during deployment when you first start a scenario, as you place your units on the battlefield. Once battle commenced, I found the AI to be very good, sometimes almost too good. When I first started playing, I often got slaughtered by the artillery. Finally, I learned that moving in the open wasn’t such a good idea, even far away from the enemy—cover is very important in this respect.
The interface looks pretty smooth, which was also my initial reaction. As I got into the movement of combat forces (after deployment), I was left wondering about a few things. Like, how far can I move infantry compared to tanks? The answer was never really revealed to me, which was one of my few complaints about the game. Another problem concerned the lines created after ordering a unit: I sometimes got confused where a unit was going and occasionally ordered a unit to go backwards. It's a little difficult to discern where units are going at times when the unit paths cross each other. And consequently, another question popped into my mind: like, what are the effects of a fast move versus a slow move? The tutorial explains that moving fast increases the risks of fatigue, but I couldn’t find an indicator that told me how fatigued my units actually were. Each unit does allow the ability to lookup info on that unit, but it just shows your current weapons and your damage levels. It doesn’t really show what could happen, just the current status. When targeting a unit it does show the units range and line of sight, which were very nice.
So I decided I needed some help and began to watch the tutorial. What I got, was some guy yelling and “bleeping” commands at me in “bleeped” curse words. I am sure it was meant to be done in a fun comical way, but the bleeping itself was really annoying. Maybe it's because I have worked in IT for so long that those “bleeps” sound familiar to the old DOS error beeps that sound off when pressing the wrong keys. The tutorial was dry, but it got the main points of the game across and was only 12 minutes long. Finally, at the very end, they explained off-board artillery. That was one of the most puzzling features of the game. It turns out, that I kept reordering my forward observer to attack an area, and when it didn’t happen I would order him again. Apparently, you have to wait 2 or 3 turns for the off-board artillery to zero in on the target. Every time he is reordered, he has to zero in again. And we he does, down rains the pain!
I really did enjoy the zooming and panning view controls. You can really have a lot of fun watching and re-watching clips of your turns from different perspectives. You can stop, rewind and play again, and move around the field to get all sorts of views and angles. You can also watch replays of games you have played, to re-evaluate your strategy, or email a link to share with others.
The multiplayer game room is very easy to use. You can select specific sides and specific scenarios, or just host random games. You can also send invites directly to friends, or just let the online quick match find an opponent for you. Most times when I play on an online game, I’ll end up getting slaughtered by guys that apparently sit online and waiting for victims (like myself) all the time. So, I’m going to wait a bit until I get a little better at this game before I venture out into the rooms again. The matchup seemed very easy to navigate, and is complimented by a rating system that allows you to rate other players.
At first, I thought the gameplay was a little drawn out and slower-paced. It is definitely for the patient player who wants to order and place each unit carefully. Once the battle started, watching the whole thing unfold was pretty cool. It took me awhile to figure out what strategy to play, but playing both sides really seemed to help. After I played the opposite side I had a much better understanding of how to take some of the objectives. For the price, this game can’t be beat. There is a lot of value here, and after I got acquainted with the interface I really started to have some fun. I can foresee many great expansions coming from this system.
Review written by: Charles Cabell
About Charles Cabell
Charles is an avid fan of historical board games, and works on many projects bringing the community together. He has worked on projects on Facebook and Youtube to help people break the learning curve of using computer technology to play games over the internet. By day he is a network engineer, and in his off time enjoys playing a variety of strategy board games, mainly WW2 tactical. Some of the projects he has worked on include "Games for the troops", using Facebook to connect Vassal players, virtual conventions, and assisting new players through Youtube videos to help players get familiar with boardgame concepts and playing online. He also maintains a Facebook page called “Historical Board Games”.
Forum username: charlescab