Close Combat: The Bloody First Review

By Joe Robinson 03 Oct 2019 0

Close Combat: The Bloody First Review

Released 03 Oct 2019

Developer: Slitherine
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Available from:

Close Combat: The Bloody First is the latest entry in the long-running Close Combat series of WW2 real-time tactical strategy games. It is the 17th member of the series (16th, if you don't count the one that was an FPS), and the first game to be made using a 3D rendering engine.

It was developed by Matrix Games, who acquired the Close Combat franchise from Microsoft/Atomic Games in the mid-naughties. With a long legacy to live up to, it's a game that was always going to be facing an up-hill struggle for approval.

The Bloody First follows the exploits of a fictional company within the very real 1st US Infantry Division, otherwise known as 'The Bloody First' (and sometimes, 'Big Red One'). Unlike most WW2 games involving US forces, this one actually starts during the 1942-3 Battle of Tunisia, before moving on to Operation Husky in Sicily in 1943, with the final campaign being Operation Overlord in Normandy. It uses similar mechanics and design as the original games, namely team-based army composition, persistent forces, as well as pre-battle force builders. The interaction mechanics have the same drop-down menu as before, meaning the player is required to put a little but more thought and care into their orders. You can pause the game to issue fresh orders, however.

The main and most obvious change is the move to 3D graphics. Instead of a 2D top-down view, you fight battles on 3D maps which can rotate, and zoom in/zoom out. Light cell-shading is used to highlights units when you're panned out, or when units are behind buildings, to help them stand out on the map. There is also a new line-of-sight tool to help you determine what a unit can see at any given point of the map, as well as additional tools for highlighting exposed sections of vehicles and tanks.

Along with the campaign (which can be played sequentially or as individual operations) there are one-off skirmish battles against the AI, online multiplayer, as well as custom scenario and editing tools.

Our primary review is over on our sister website, Wargamer, if you want to read the official verdict. Here's an extract:

Close Combat: The Bloody First is a divisive game. It’s fairly satisfying while it’s all about infantry firing at each other at range. However, once you reach tanks, they are either woefully ineffective when fighting others of their kind or become game-ending when they get to maul infantry unopposed. Many of the issues can probably be fixed by a patch, and there’s always online multiplayer to consider as well. For me, if they tweaked the team replenishment and replacement systems in the campaign, I would happily recommend picking this up.

While The Bloody First is a decent start to the new era of Close Combat, it still needs a bit of TLC, and we hope some dedicated post-release support and future DLC will iron out the game and make it a title worthy of the legacy.

Close Combat: The Bloody First Review

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