E3 2002G.I. Combat impressions

Though G.I. Combat is the first game from Freedom Games, it has a strong pedigree.

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The development team is composed of former TalonSoft and Atomic Games employees, so there's no doubting their experience with wargames. G.I. Combat follows loosely in the footsteps of Atomic's Close Combat series, attempting to model both the physical and psychological aspects of war.

The game is based on the invasion of Normandy and will feature a dynamic campaign. Victories and losses will change your path through the game, and in some cases, major victories or losses will dramatically affect the path you take.

You control teams of rangers and armored units. As in the Close Combat games, the success of your men is tied directly to their morale. As their morale drops, they'll become less effective. At the end of each mission, you'll be given medals that you can hand out to soldiers, which will increase their morale.

You can give your troops a variety of orders, having them assault an area, march carefully, or crawl cautiously and defensively to their destination. You can set their perimeter of defense so that they will shoot at anything in their line of sight or wait until the enemy is close enough to ambush. The demonstration of the armored units was brief, but Freedom is trying to make them as realistic as possible, as was evident from their modeled gear shifting.

What separates G.I. Combat from its predecessors is that you can zoom up to get a view of the entire battle area or zoom all the way down to the faces of your men. The over-the-shoulder camera will let you follow individual men as they carry out their orders.

G.I. Combat will be released later this year.

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