Metascore
62

Mixed or average reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. It looks and sounds great, but the lack of a tutorial is a major letdown, as the game is just too complex not to have one. Even the first few missions of the campaign are quite difficult and don't ease you into the game as they should. The simplistic AI also hurts the gameplay in the campaign mode too.
  2. Battlefront are an admirable group whose games all feel like labors of love, and you can feel developers’ blood, sweat and tears all through Combat Mission: Shock Force.
  3. Some of the most touted improvements are distinctly underwhelming. The "detailed, story-driven, semi-dynamic campaign" turns out to be a poorly presented, poorly paced string of twenty-odd scenarios offering sod-all in the way of continuity or sense of progress.
  4. The game needs a little more spit and polish before it can assume its proper place in the Pantheon.
  5. Combat Mission says good-bye to WWII, but hello to an inept interface, broken AI, and hideous visuals.
  6. If you don't give up because of the game's difficulty, you will be rewarded with a tatical depth that offers unequaled opportunities and exactly simulated weapon systems.
  7. Hardcore strategy fans will surely love this new title. Map creating abilities will add shelf life.
  8. The developers' chutzpah regarding Shock Force's premise is admirable, and if you fall into the game's narrow audience, there may be a lot to like about it. [Oct 2007, p.59]
  9. 52
    Battlefront can be commended for their speedy patches but that doesn't excuse the sorry state of the game when it was released or make it any easier to endure the problems that still exist, particularly with regard to the apathetic AI, gummy interface, or poor overall performance.
  10. Newbies may find it a little intimidating to get into, but perseverance brings reward in the shape of an immersive experience that’s about as fun as war gaming can get.
  11. Even diehard grognards may be turned off by its complex interface and esoteric control panels, and newbies will be frustrated to no end. [Nov 2007, p.70]
  12. Wherever you look, something is missing. [Oct 2007, p.74]
  13. Delivers the goods in spades, with an improved engine and a new emphasis to real-time rather than turn-based action. [Oct 2007, p.82]
  14. After two patches Shock Force has become a good game. Someday, after the WeGo mode, the TacAI and pathfinding have been fixed, it will be an excellent game. [Sept 2007]
  15. I don't think I've enjoyed a wargame as much this one since I played the original Combat Mission game all those years ago. If you have an interest in simulating realistic modern warfare, and specifically seeing how the new Stryker concept would fare in battle, you can't go wrong with Combat Mission: Shock Force.
User Score
3.3

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 86 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 28
  2. Negative: 15 out of 28
  1. HughMan
    Dec 7, 2009
    9
    I did not play the game as soon as it came out, but only after the new module featuring the British Army was released. I am thoroughly impressed with the game in it's current state. The tactical depth is amazing. Unlike in other rtsgames you have to really think about where to place your troops, when to rush, when to just sit back and let airsupport or artillery do their magic and when to retreat to another firing position. The only complaint I have is that the interface is a bit fiddly at first, but as soon as you learn the shortcuts it's ok. Full Review »
  2. MichaelD
    Sep 29, 2008
    4
    What you get out of this game, like anything, will depend on what your expectations are. Presuming that you are approaching this title for the same reasons that people approached the first three CM titles, and for the same reasons that the developers claim to have published the game, this reviewer feels you will likely be disappointed. That reason would be to find a playable, entertaining, perhaps even thought-provoking squad-based, company level tactical 3D wargame. The positives; CM:SF at its most basic level seems like its predecessors. The player is presented with an open ended game with a map editor, scenarios, a linked-scenarios game option, and a random scenario generator. Play is still turn-based, with 1 minute "movies" interspersed with orders phases in which both sides give orders. Play is resolved simultaneously. Even board game designers knew that "Si-Move" was more realistic than sequential turns back in the early 1970s. Additionally, those Zombie-critters in the first CM games have been replaced with stunning 3D models, and adequate animations. All the wheels on the tanks turn, men reload magazines, they even give first aid to injured soldiers. And hey, you want to play in real time and forget the goofy turn system, there is a real time option too. And if you still want to stop and catch a breath, you can pause the real time. They fixed the "borg spotting" and now each unit traces LOS independently of others. So what could possibly be wrong? It's the same old CM, just better, and more features, right? Unfortunately, no. Aside from the most obvious change - a modern day fictional war in Syria that may or may not appeal - many of the old CM features have been gutted. First of all, the game is so data-heavy, with individual tracking of ammunition and small arms fire, that PBEM files are bloated. There is also no way to play turn-based over the internet. It's real time only. If you were a fan of the Quick Battles - there are no random maps. The data was too much to be able to do them "on the fly". There are no more point purchase systems for the QBs, either. In game, there are a lot of handy features that didn't make the transition - LOS tools or ambush or shoot-n-scoot or seek hull down. Some have work arounds (the target command works as an LOS - unless you have an unarmed unit), but some don't. The main objection is that the biggest complaint about the old CM - the 3-man representations on the map of entire infantry squads - have been replaced with 1:1 representation. But the individuals on the map don't act like individuals. Just about everything is abstracted; there are no interior walls in buildings - but there are exterior windows and doors (you can tell because the men won't jump through the windows, and the pathfinding is so poor that men will run circles around entire buildings trying to find the doors even if it means exposing themselves to fire to do it). LOS is supposedly drawn to each man individually, but an underlying 8x8m grid of "Action Spots" also controls such things as movement - though there are no visual clues on the map as to what is determined by the action spots, or where they are, exactly. You still control squads as if they were squads - not individuals - which means if you want to replenish your squad's ammo from its APC (another welcome new feature) - you send the entire squad running off the firing line to do it where in real life you'd just send one man back for an ammo can or an armful of bandoliers. There is a serious "scale-mismatch" as one veteran wargamer described it at the official forums. The developers lost sight of what made the original game fun and tried to broaden their retail base to include real time customers while abandoning commitment to crucial philosophies of game design. Worst, perhaps, the AI has largely been removed. Granted, it was silly to watch platoon HQs and mortars leading counterattacks in the first CM games, but the AI in CM:SF is entirely scripted. The scenario designer now sets the agenda by having the enemy react to the clock, not the tactical situation. There is still a TacAI, but the developers are still working out the bugs, and it mostly determines defensive actions. The AI won't counter-attack you if you take a victory location - unless the script calls for it. There are multiple scripts available for each scenario, but the AI still won't act dynamically to what you are doing except by sheer coincidence. The "campaign" released with the game replaces the popular Operations model of the earlier CM games. You will never be able to fight over the same terrain as in the early games. Instead, you have a simplistic branch system of linked scenarios with which you have no control to make decisions on which units you will employ - you're there for the ride. If you're mostly interested in pretty graphics, CM:SF won't disappoint. The night-time effects are good; daytime effects are ok - still some work to be done on shadows, and battlefront has said they have no way to fix the fact that bunkers and trenches are impossible to hide. That's right - you get a bunker or a trench and the terrain is deformed wherever you put it, and the enemy can see that wherever you place it on the map (actually, the scenario designer will place the trench for you - it's not your call, and you can't dig foxholes, either, nor are there roadblocks or barbed wire). Unhidden trenches and bunkers are not cool for head-to-head play. Between two friends, not an issue, but perhaps its no small wonder there haven't been any tournament ladders springing up with the same wild abandon they did for the first CM games. As nice as the vehicles look on the move, other animations are silly - inappropriate weapons reload animations (those US troops don't know how to use the hold-open device on a reloaded M4 apparently) and really silly building demolitions - pull you out of the environment pretty quickly. The official forums for the game will inform you far better than a review here. The fact this game went to the clearance bin so quickly should inform you also. Nine months after release and the game has seen 8 patches (one was required on release day) with no official announcement to when the patches will be complete. And yet the game is already retailing for less than 8 dollars. Compare the price of this game to that of its earlier predecessor Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, still retailing around the 20 dollar mark on Amazon. 8 dollars is a fair price for this product and there are enough fans to be found at the official website that you will find plenty of company to enjoy the game with. The developer has promised at least one add-on module to incorporate Marines into the game with additional Syrian units. Best advice is to download the demo and try it out for yourself. Bear in mind the latest patch features will likely not be reflected in the latest demo, as this does not get updated with each patch. A word to the wise, however - an educated guess is that when this game engine progresses to the Second World War, the modern setting will be quickly forgotten. The developer has only one coder working on their titles, and demand for the WW II version has been high. After a series of mediocre releases (CM:SF, Theatre of War, T-72), BFC will be looking to appeal to new audiences - there will likely be little future in modules for this one after the promised Marines module comes out, if demand for the WWII titles is as high as is anticipated and sales of that popular genre manage to eclipse the modern games. Full Review »
  3. JensB.
    Jun 29, 2008
    8
    I would have given this game a 3 when it was released, however, after eight patches, this game has improved immensely. There are still issues, especially with infantry combat in dense, urban terrain, but overall the game is very playable in its present state. If you were disappointed with this game 6 months ago, I recommend giving it another try now. Full Review »