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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: April 5, 1999
During World War II, some of the bloodiest and deadliest fighting anywhere could be found on the Russian Front as the Russians struggled desperately to keep their beloved homeland from collapsing under the weight of the German blitzkrieg. Close Combat 3: The Russian Front continues the tradition of the series by allowing you to try your hand at leading the German or Russian forces to victory. Will the skilled, but outnumbered, German forces drive straight through uncontested or will the sheer numbers and willpower of the Russians enable them to succeed? The fate of both sides and the balance of power lies in your hands in this real-time strategy and tactical game.
The fundamentals are largely unchanged from the first sequel, A Bridge Too Far. You lead a force of units against the enemy in a single battle, a series of battles called an operation or a series of operations called a campaign. A unit might be a single tank, a squad of infantry or a single sniper. Each unit has a rating that reflects its strength and ability. Inexperienced troops fight as expected; they’re inefficient and easily routed. On the other hand, more experienced troops can withstand fierce fighting and superior forces. Morale plays a big role in Russian Front, as it does in real combat, and there’s nothing worse than having a unit in perfect position for an attack, then suddenly have it fall to pieces and surrender or run away.
A wide array of German and Russian weapons are available, and newer weapons and units are introduced as the war moves along and technology improves. Therefore, if you play a long operation or the mega-campaign, new weapon types become available that didn’t previously exist. Each individual scenario offers a different challenge than the next, whether it be terrain, facing superior or inferior forces and so on. The nice thing about the operations and campaigns is you learn to look at the bigger picture. Winning a scenario is nice, but when you wear down your best troops doing it, you might find you have nothing left for the next battle.
Before each scenario, you have access to a set number of reserve troops you can call into battle. The amount of reserves depends on two things. First, you have a given number of requisition points that can be used to buy additional units; each unit has a cost next to it so you can see what you can get with the points you have. The second factor is roster space, since you have space for a limited number of units in each scenario. In between scenarios, you can refit damaged units, rest units that are battle weary or retire them altogether. Remember, no amount of rest in the world is going to help when three-fourths of a squad is dead.
A scenario can end in several ways. You can completely wipe out the enemy by killing them or having them surrender, take over all the flagged victory locations on the map or agree to a truce with the other side. At the end of each scenario, you’ll see a summary screen that indicates how well you and the enemy did. Kills aren’t the only measure of success, and it is often necessary to sacrifice a few bodies to hold a key victory location. If, during an operation, a battle ends in a truce, the next battle will be on that same map, only the starting locations will change based on the results of the previous scenario.
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