Close Combat launches a counteroffensive on GOG

Close Combat

Ah, the Close Combat series. Over twenty years old, and still disabusing people of the notion that World War 2 was won through heroic charges through enemy fire against improbable odds. The venerable simulationist strategy series has been crushing the spirits of would-be tacticians for a very long time now, although many of the games have been out of circulation for some time.

Presumably in order to raise interest in the upcoming sequel, Close Combat: The Bloody First, GOG have managed to secure the rights to redistribute most of the series, with five games being available to buy DRM-free, and all discounted at present.

I must confess that my experience with the series is limited, although not for want of trying. I’ve attempted to wrap my head around the tactical subtleties of these games several times, and somehow ended up in the same familiar spiral of broken morale and shattered vehicles each and every time, with each move made to restore my forces turning into a fresh mistake accompanied by further losses.

Being honestly quite rubbish at Close Combat, it’s hard for me to rightfully recommend the franchise.  Thankfully, you don’t have to take my word on the quality of these games – our resident historical strategy boffin Tim Stone has said plenty on the subject, and it’s mostly positive. The AI in the games shows its age from time to time, and the interface isn’t nearly as smooth and intuitive as it could be by modern standards, but there are still plenty of reasons why the Close Combat name carries weight to this day, and if you’re the sort of person who knows their PaK 37 from their QF6’s, these might be just what the general ordered.

The Close Combat sale on GOG includes Close Combat’s 2 through 4, and the two most recent games, Panthers In The Fog and Gateway to Caen. The latter two (normally priced to fit the strategy grognard market, as per Slitherine’s standard rules of engagement) are heavily discounted at present, down a whole 65% off RRP, and the sale will be running for the next six days, give or take. The next game in the series, Close Combat: The Bloody First, is due for release sometime this year after extensive delays.

23 Comments

  1. Palindrome says:

    It’s not QF6 it is OQF (ordnance quick firing) 6 pounder, tsk.

    • Palindrome says:

      Incidentally there is no real point in buying the newer CC games as mechanically they are identical to the earlier games, they just look slightly better.

      • TheOx129 says:

        There are some nice quality of life additions to the remakes, and, if I’m not mistaken, Panthers in the Fog and Gateway to Caen are entirely new games (albeit on a venerable engine with the shortcomings that entails). That said, the campaign for A Bridge Too Far is probably the series’ best, and is definitely a must-play.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      I’ll chalk that one up to being a regular typo, although perhaps further proof that having a historical war-boffin on staff is a wise investment.

  2. Eightball says:

    Oh SHIT CC2 was my jam!

  3. Stargazer86 says:

    They have also not changed the sound effects in 15 years. No, really. The sounds in Gateway to Caen are exactly the same effects they used in Invasion Normandy, which is the one I had in the early 2000’s.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Edski says:

    I’ve downloaded ‘The Russian Front’ and am playing it heartily. GOG have sorted Close Combat for modern resolutions. Brilliant.

  5. GernauMorat says:

    I’ve wanted to play Caen and Panthers forever, but wasn’t going to play full price for a game in a twenty year old engine. Now I think I’ll buy the whole pack! See slitherine, discounts do work

  6. Gothnak says:

    I still have the originals all on my hard drive, never found anything newer to replace them with.

    I’ve tried Barbarossa to Berlin, but it’s so unwieldy in comparison.

    • Shiloh says:

      I may have mentioned it before, but I’ve a real soft spot for Theatre of War 2 – it’s 3D, pauseable, and models individual soldiers during the East Front, North African and Normandy campaigns as Russians, British, Germans and Americans. There’s also a Korean campaign but I’ve never really got into it, despite “helicopters”.

      TOW2 is not without its flaws but I’ve had as much fun with it as I have with the Graviteam games, and that’s saying something coming from me.

      If anyone’s interested, YouTuber Sim Deck put a couple of videos up about it – this one’s pretty good as a taster of what the game’s about.

      • johnnyr says:

        This looks cool but is super dated.

        Graviteam makes me feel like I’m just watching things play out, and I feel like I have very little agency. (I know that isn’t really true, but that’s just how the game feels to me)

        Combat Mission seems like the perfect game – squad/platoon level, pausabel real-time or WEGO, etc. It just is stuck with an engine from 2001 that makes it feel incredibly outdated and clunky.

        I can’t seem to find the game I’m looking for :(

        • TheOx129 says:

          I adore Graviteam, but you’re not entirely off the mark regarding the lack of agency. Despite the superficial similarities to Combat Mission, I’d argue that in many ways the Graviteam games are closer to titles like Command Ops and Take Command/Scourge of War, in that the focus is arguably more on simulating command and control than unit tactics and the micromanagement that usually entails. In CM, you’re the platoon leader directing your 3rd squad to get to the 2nd floor of a specific building and face a specific direction; in Graviteam, you’re the battalion commander, drawing up plans but letting your AI subordinates execute them, then adjusting as needed.

          If you took the best elements of Combat Mission (squad/platoon level combat, multiplayer, WEGO/real-time, scenario editor), Graviteam (operational layer, battalion level and above combat, command and control simulation), and Close Combat (soldier psychology, accessibility), you’d have one spectacular game. As it stands, the major WWII tactics games all have notable shortcomings in one or more areas.

  7. pookie101 says:

    Ah CC2.. Plucky British para’s slowly crawling up behind a king tiger to hit it in the butt with a PIAT and hope they aren’t noticed :D Those were the days

  8. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Bit of a tangent, the explosions in Gateway to Caen are just gorgeous.
    So gorgeous in fact that they made me buy it on GOG, just for the explosions.

    Sure, I like strategy games, but I like pretty explosions more.

  9. Sweeper says:

    Close Combat series is one of the best WW2 strategy games ever made. Global map is turn based and individual battles that happen are real time with limited nummber of troop u can have.
    This game perfectly simulates modern way of battles and satelite perspective where u command and deploy few tanks, AT guns few HMG, mortar, and several infantry with platoon leaders to attack or deffend the village.

    U don’t micro every soldier but they are individually affected with moral and stress of everything that happens during the battles and sometimes they react and do something on their own.

    We used to have clan wars from all over the world for the whole campaign of Normandy where u send save files and Generals discuss who to send to fight and where on the map.

    Each time u return on map there are leftover of destroyed tanks shell holes, a house where u remember that just 1 of your soldiers went on some heroic deed just bye him self took a rifle from a dead german killed 2 guys in a house and ended up in a mele fight with a last one and he saved so important crossroad so our suply can work for the next turn So many great moments this game has given us.

    I remember the time when 15 years ago US Marines some infantry leader bumped to our clans team speak and asked about Close combat how its played etc.. and after 5 months he comes back and give us ziped file a new game of Close combat engine no developer US vs Irak and you could play only US and they attacked Irak 3 months after they gave us game. They where training their infantry leaders using this game.

    THIS GAME SHINES PLAYED VS HUMAN OPONENT (ai was bad )

  10. johnnyr says:

    So which one do I get? The old ones look really dated, and I don’t have any nostalgia for them as I never played them. So should I stick with the two newest ones?

    • Stargazer86 says:

      Well, the newer ones aren’t all that much different from the older ones. There are a few graphical tweaks, things look better, and there are some QOL changes too. They certainly are not worth $40 any way whatsoever. At full price I’d just stick with the older titles which are basically the same game but just a whole heck of a lot cheaper. With the sale, though? $13.99 seems fairly fair for Gateway to Caen.

  11. Hartford688 says:

    One thing that seems odd or incoherent about this release is the mix of “original” versus “updated” versions.

    If I understand correctly, the last two are the (more expensive) upgraded version from Matrix; whereas the others are the old versions. For example “Russian Campaign” is available, but not the enhanced “Cross of Iron” edition – still €35 (!) on the Matrix site.

    Entirely up to them of course, but seems a strange approach.

    Was toying with getting CC3, but given is the old version I will instead spend the time on Graviteam: Operation Star which I already have. Yay, cash saved, impulse buy dodged.

  12. BellicoseBill says:

    I was mainly into flight sims in the mid 90’s when I came across ABTF at the Software, Etc. store and made an impulse buy. I became obsessed with the game and Market Garden in general, which lead to a love of wargames that continues to this day. I still have the original strategy guide for ABTF-I need to find that.

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