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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: November 3, 1997
In September 1944, the Allies attempted to seize a series of major bridges over a 60-mile stretch that would allow the allies to move from Holland into Germany, and straight towards Berlin. This operation, known as Operation Market Garden, relied heavily on the use of paratroopers to drop in and take the bridges, which would then be used by armored troops that would move in and make the big push. However, communication failures, some back luck, and a few other factors (like a copy of the complete plan for the operation falling into German hands) eventually found the Allies falling just short of their final objective, despite less than full resistance from the Germans. The armored units never made it to help relieve the paratroopers at the last bridge in Arnhem — as it turns out, they went a bridge too far. The mission failed.
In Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far (ABTF), you have the opportunity to test your hand at commanding either German or Allied troops in this bloody struggle for control. As the Allies, you try to make the push successful and rewrite history by bringing the attack to a close and seizing that final bridge at Arnhem. If you play as the Germans, your task will be to halt the advancing Allies at all costs and keep them from controlling this all-important corridor into the Fatherland. This sequel to Close Combat has both similarities and differences from the original, and offers some strong military strategy gameplay.
ABTF really offers three ways to play: battles, scenarios, or campaigns. Each relates to how much of the map — which shows the key points of Operation Market Garden — you play at a time. A battle is a single skirmish that takes place in one location. A scenario is a series of interrelated battles, in which your performance in one battle determines your troop strength and position for the next battle. Scenarios comprise a larger portion of the overall operation. A campaign is made up of several scenarios linked together and includes a major part of the operation, or can be the entire Operation Market Garden, from beginning to end.
Each battle map has a number of objectives spread throughout the landscape. These objectives will be controlled by one side at the beginning of the battle. If you are playing the “battle,” then you have no choice over which soldiers to use, but you can determine where you want them to begin the battle. If you are playing a scenario or campaign, you can pick and choose, up to a point, the type and number of units you’ll use in the upcoming battle. Depending on which side you are playing and whether you are defending or attacking, you will have a lot or only a little room in which to maneuver your units before the fighting begins.
Landscapes can consist of fields, trees, hills, buildings, bridges, and other obstacles and obstructions. Each building, unless it is bombed out, has a number on it that indicates the number of floors it has. Using one’s surroundings is crucial for both sides in turning the tide of any battle. Line of sight combat means that you can’t fire at troops hiding behind a building. Seizing high ground and outflanking and outmaneuvering your opponent is crucial to swinging the tide of any and every battle.
How, pray tell, do you do that? Well, I’ll tell you. Each side has a number of different troop types, although many will not be available in any one given battle. Units may be equipped with rifles, machine guns, bazookas, mortars, and even flamethrowers. Your Allied paratroopers will mostly be comprised of infantry units, although tanks and armored vehicles come into play in some of the battles and many of the scenarios and campaigns. The German defenders are also larger comprised of infantry units armed with similar weapons, and will also have armored vehicles at different points.
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