Combat Command 2 concentrates on taking the fundamentals of wargaming and making them easy to manipulate in a computer game.
Last summer, the release of the innovative Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord was a major event in computer wargaming. However, outside the realm of tactical games (in which units represent single vehicles and small groups of men) there really hasn't been much deviation from the formula that has served wargamers for the past 20 years: a hex-based system derived from the traditional tabletop wargames that were most popular in the 1970s. Combat Command 2 sticks closely to this tried-and-true formula, but manages to seem like more than just another board-game port.
Combat Command 2 doesn't try to do anything revolutionary. Instead, it concentrates on taking the fundamentals of wargaming and making them easy to manipulate in a computer game. The game doesn't really introduce any new concepts, but it features the strategic decision making of a wargame without so many details that the game becomes an unplayable mess. Thus, Combat Command 2 avoids the needless complexity that plagues many computer wargames.
The game also eschews fancy graphics and sound, to the point where those unfamiliar with the standards of wargames might think that Combat Command 2 is 5 or more years old. The unit graphics aren't actually bad as far as wargames go; they are clean and functional, though the terrain is ugly and can sometimes be difficult on the eyes. The sound isn't especially bad either; there just isn't much of it other than perfunctory gunfire and vehicle sounds that do little more than alert you to the fact that something is happening. Anyone who expects aesthetic gratification from computer games should probably pass on Combat Command 2.
Otherwise, Combat Command 2 features a robust gameplay system that concentrates on the difficulties inherent in commanding large numbers of military units in combat. The gameplay is turn-based, and it will be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever played a tabletop wargame. The game's scale is 500 meters per hex with turns the represent four real-world hours (six hours at night) and units of company size. Each of the more than 20 scenarios focuses on a battle or part of a battle and typically lasts several historical days. The scenarios tend to be Mediterranean or Western Front battles with an emphasis on amphibious landings and paratroopers. Units include American, British, Italian, and German troops, and battles range from small conflicts like the one for the Heraklion airfield in Crete, to a small portion of the Battle of the Bulge around Bastogne. Small-scale scenarios can be completed in an evening, while playing a larger battle might take several days. The game also features extensive rules for paradrops, glider landings, minefields, night combat, and all the features you'd expect from a World War II game.
As its name implies, Combat Command 2 focuses on the problems of actually commanding troops on the battlefield and thus includes a detailed command system that rewards you for keeping formations intact instead of just spreading units around to get the optimal mix of combat factors. The printed manual spells out all the game mechanics clearly and includes all the charts and tables used in the game. There are no mystery calculations, and unlike The Operational Art of War series, Combat Command 2 doesn't feature an excessive number of overly complex calculations. The game displays the projected combat results table for each combat (dynamically, as you select units) so that you can quickly see your chances for success.