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Shrapnel Games









Q3 2001



- Teaches and entertains

- Simple interface

- Mission and map editor

- Lots of hex fun

- Email games



- Limited appeal

- Graphics arenít jazzy



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Combat Command 2:

Desert Rats

Score: 7.9 / 10

During my four years of university I took several courses with World War II in the title. Even now Iíll pick up a book that explores another aspect of the War. That being said, I only recognized two of the included 16 scenarios in Combat Command 2: Desert Rats (DR). Iíve verified a few of the other battles just to see how historical the game is. I like this in a game Ė entertains, makes you think, and educates (to an extent). With a game based on history, I always think the outcome is decided. Not so with DR.

The turn-based action unfolds via the traditional hex war-gaming grid with battles between the Axis and Allies in North Africa. If you know nothing about this area and period of the Second World War, donít worry, the manual does an excellent job of filling you in. Each battle is given quite an exhaustive description, which helps you to understand the why and the what.



Although the computer AI is good, itís definitely more satisfying to play against human opponents, especially because the AI moves predictably at most points. Multiplayer can be achieved through three methods: hot seat (playing at the same keyboard), email, or via the Internet provided you know your opponent's IP. Playing live over the Net can get boring as you sometimes have to wait for a very long time before your opponent ends his turn. With hot seat play at least you have someone to talk to and harangue more easily. Email games can be long drawn out affairs too 




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but at least you donít have to be at your computer while they make their moves. Itís too bad the email games arenít better integrated with your email browser. You have to save a file then send it. When the return email arrives you have to put the file in the correct folder. It adds a few unnecessary steps, but if youíre into heavy war-gaming, a genre that relies on tactical knowledge and patience instead of quick reactions, moving a file into a different folder is probably not going to upset you.



The strongest thing about DR is the scenario editor. Itís possible to make some very challenging maps for your war-gaming buddies. Itís robust and easy to use which is what every editor should be. Part of the ease is because you donít have a lot of crazy 3D geometry Ė just good olí fashioned 2D.

The downside to DR is that those unfamiliar with this kind of gameplay will probably feel overwhelmed. There is lots to keep track of at any given time including supply lines, morale, and supply status. The stats are complete and easily accessible once you get a firm handle on where everything is located. Thereís no tutorial so you must rely on the manual.

Graphics and sound is what youíd expect of an independent game. Thereís no T&L or anti-aliasing Ė itís got more of a board game feel with basic icon sets and terrain details, although they are varied. (Just look at the screenshots.) To spruce things up a little, there are period posters displayed in the sidebar. It lends a sense of time and place.

Wargamers will have a lot of fun with Combat Command 2: Desert Rats. Itís a solid turn-based hex wargame with a versatile scenario editor Ė if itís your cup of tea, drink it up!

- Omni


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