CLOSE COMBAT V: INVASION NORMANDY
PC Gamer US Edition|December 2021
Twenty years later, this RTS is still just as innovative.
Steven Messner

NEED TO KNOW

RELEASE October 2000

PUBLISHER Mattel Interactive

DEVELOPER Atomic Games

LINK bit.ly/2ViLhqN

During the frigid Canadian winters, the forest behind my house became a battlefield. Every night I’d meet my friends there and distribute our collection of toy guns, and then we’d reenact the scenes we had seen in war movies. I vividly remember sitting in the snow, back against a tree, pretending I was pinned down by my friend, who was now a German sniper. I was ten years old, and blessed with an absurdly active imagination. Immersion was everything, so crawling for an hour through freezing slush just to get to safety was not out of the question.

This was just one of the ways my childlike fascination with war manifested itself. Between gory drawings of battlefields or watching what few WWII documentaries I was allowed to see, ten-year-old me was obsessed with the thrill and glory of battle. Naturally, that troubled the hell out of my parents, who knew that war wasn’t glamorous or cool. But despite them trying to tell me otherwise, that realization only hit me the first time I booted up Close Combat on our family PC. This real-time strategy game was unlike any other I’d played, and it quickly taught me that war is a lot more horrifying than my kid brain could comprehend.

Reinstalling Close Combat V today, it’s funny that I initially found its low-res battlefields so harrowing. But even if its graphics haven’t aged well, there’s still something unique and innovative about one of PC gaming’s forgotten real-time strategy games.

INTO THE BREACH

Unlike most strategy games of the late ’90s and early ’00s, Close Combat goes to great lengths to simulate WWII-era combat. There are no bases to build or resources to harvest, just dozens of platoons to manage as they slowly crawl across war-torn Europe, engaging in intense firefights. Years of Command & Conquer had taught me that my units were easily replaceable—clones endlessly churned out of a factory or barracks tucked into some corner of the map. So, like an idiot, my first move was to select my entire army, and move them straight into the center of the town we were fighting in to take one of the map’s many capture points. No other RTS had required me to carefully position my units, so I was completely unprepared for Close Combat’s more simulated approach.

When German assault squadrons opened fire, I realized my mistake. Amid sharp cracks of gunfire and horrifying screams, individual soldiers were cut down by the dozen. Those that survived quickly panicked and began to retreat, while others just huddled on the spot—the UI readout telling me they’re ‘cowered’ or ‘pinned’—waiting for their turn to catch a bullet. The firing soon ceased, and ten-year-old me stared blankly at the bloody corpses of several dozen dead soldiers. I had sent them all into the meat grinder, and those that survived were now too broken to fight.

WAR STORIES

Novels that tell a soldier’s perspective of war

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT ERICH MARIA REMARQUE

A haunting fictional account of a German soldier fighting in WWI. It paints a picture of how war dehumanizes people.

THE LONGEST DAY CORNELIUS RYAN

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

WHATSAPP PUSHES PRIVACY UPDATE TO COMPLY WITH IRISH RULING

WhatsApp is adding more details to its privacy policy and flagging that information for European users, after Irish regulators slapped the chat service with a record fine for breaching strict EU data privacy rules.

1 min read
Techlife News
27, November 2021

EU OPENS DOOR TO GIVING AID FOR SEMICONDUCTOR PRODUCTION

The European Commission said Thursday that it could approve aid to fund production of semiconductors in the 27-nation bloc amid a global chip shortage and intense worldwide competition to fill the need.

2 mins read
Techlife News
20, November 2021

GOOGLE SAYS FLIGHT SEARCH TOOL CAN HELP YOU FLY ‘GREENER'

A basic search for flights will give an estimate of how many kilograms of carbon dioxide the flight will spew from start to finish.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

SURGING NATURAL GAS PRICES: THREAT TO CONSUMERS THIS WINTER?

Brace for a rude surprise on your winter heating bills.

5 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #518

Google in Court to Appeal EU's 2018 Android Antitrust Case

Google headed to a top European Union court this week to appeal a record EU antitrust penalty imposed for stifling competition through the dominance of its Android operating system.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
October 01, 2021

MASTERCLASS

Pip Hare on best practice crew communication

4 mins read
Yachting World
October 2021

ONE TO CHARGE THEM ALL: EU DEMANDS SINGLE PLUG FOR PHONES

The European Union unveiled plans Thursday to require smartphone makers to adopt a single charging method for mobile devices.

1 min read
Techlife News
September 25, 2021

Who Comes Next?

The race to succeed Germany’s Angela Merkel pits caution against boldness

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
August 23, 2021

HOT DATES: 2 SPACECRAFT TO MAKE VENUS FLYBY

Two spacecraft are set to swoop past Venus within hours of each other this week, using the maneuver to do a little bit of bonus science on the way to their main missions at the center of our solar system.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
August 13, 2021

CHER'S SINGING IS ELE-PHANTASTIC!

Special recordings bringing peace to pachyderms

1 min read
Globe
August 23, 2021