Monkey See, Monkey Do: Playing Any Modern Combat Games?

Whether it’s pathetic emulation or a way to learn more about what we’re seeing on the boob tube, I suspect a few of us are playing games inspired by modern warfare. I am.

I picked up S.O.C.O.M. (PS2) at long last. I couldn’t bring myself to use the headset to talk to AI soldiers but it’s a pretty neat game. It’s Rogue Spear made simple - in a good sense. Instead of developing time-consuming and intricate plans you simply follow along the map - using marked locations to maneuver your second element on the fly is optional but sometimes triggers helpful tactical comments from them. I found myself gamely playing along for a while but scripted missions tend to put me off once I get to the ‘save restore’ stage of difficulty. Initially I was tempted to get Ghost Recon (PS2) but reading about the ‘insta-enemy-detecting-radar’ steered me safely to S.O.C.O.M…

What has held my attention has been a free game that’s been sitting on my harddrive for months now but which I’d never gotten around to playing - The Camo Group’s Steel Panthers: Main Battle Tank (v 1.5). Like their SPWWII (not to be confused with Matrix Game’s Steel Panthers: World at War) this is a rebuild of an earlier version of Steel Panthers but this focuses on modern combat (1946-2020). Dozens of orders of battle are included by nationality, faction and era along with generic ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ forces that represent irregular and developing world troops of South America (drug cartels, mercenaries, Soviet/Cuban hardware and government paramilitaries) and Asia (more of the same but with a slightly different selection). I’ll assume most folks are familiar with Steel Panthers - a tactical scale game where a unit equals an individual vehicle, squad of troops or weapons team. Game types include scripted/branching campaigns (only one in the 1.5 download), randomized linear campaigns (any combination of forces), and scripted scenarios. Play by email multiplayer is available as well and there is a editor included.

SP:MBT’s graphics are very weak by today’s standards, and I won’t pretend that what I’ve played models the nuances of modern combat extremely well, but it’s still a fun (and free) way to go about commanding your own Light Cavalry Company (or airborne, or infantry, or armor) in the deserts and towns of Iraq. Night vision is modelled as are electronic warfare (there are SEAD flights and units with ECM out there) and air cavalry operations including Blackhawks, Apaches and Kiowas. Missions take place on randomly generated maps and can include secondary friendly forces (very useful to balance out a specialist formation when dealing with non-optimal situations).

The opposing force (in my case Iraqis) is also generated randomly. What is unrealistic is that in order for battles to be balanced the point totals of both sides have to match. This means a relatively modest force of American high-tech is going to be offset by roving legions of Iraqi armor and infantry. Every battle turns into a nasty highway of death (especially at night or on open terrain) for the OpFor but losing even a couple units to ambushes or surprise encounters (daylight, restricted terrain or towns) is extremely costly for the Americans as each unit is that much more expensive.

The AI isn’t great shakes but it does alot more than SP:WaW. Instead of rushing blindly towards victory locations the AI will have several thrusts - sometimes attempting to punch through and past your lines before flanking inwards. The AI also keeps reserves and calls in effective artillery strikes on not only visible units but likely locations and assembly areas (hills, roads and towns near victory or starting positions). I haven’t seen it use smoke intelligently yet, though, but it would only help so much against IR targeting. I was sure there was a bug when one of my Bradleys reactively popped smoke and proceeded to return fire with no negative modifers on the threat. It took me a minute to get what was going on. This ain’t WWII.

Anyhow. Neat game. Free. Fun. So, am I the only one experimenting with modern warfare games and sims?

Well, I’m playing Desert Combat for BF1942 more than might be healthy. I’m playing Raven Shield as well.

I’m also doing the Desert Combat mod. And I’m also being a suicide bomber in the game more than I should.

Unfortunately I have to stop playing any modern combat games that involve Chinooks when the mother is around, as she tends to get a little emotional over the baby brother, who was flying one for the 101st Airborne over in Afghanistan last year and in Iraq this year.

I’ve especially found myself being overly protective of the Chinooks in C&C Generals and Advanced War for the GBA.

However, I did have a ball doing a mock-presentation to the brother using Operation Flashpoint a few Christmases ago on how not to fly (“Rule No. 7, Chinooks do not float well upside down”)

Rainbow Six 3 : Raven Shield.


If you really want to play with modern combat units, try Shrapnel Games Armo(u)red Task Force. There are some serious US/Iraq scenarios. That should address your desire to “learn more about what [you] see on the tube.” I think Dan Morris likes it. Talk to him.


Desert Combat.

If this is version 0.3, damn, whats version 1.0 going to be like?

I think they’re going to have to make the choppers a little easier to control, and make them a little more vulnerable to AA fire, but thats the only thing that I see.

Just wait. :-)

Let me draw your attention to this web page:

Then I will proceed to close my mouth and say nothing more for about, oh… how does a month sound? ;-)

Brian, as your local SP Camo guy, I’m glad you’re having fun.

Now let me help you have more fun. :)

If you go to the Preferences screen, there are settings for Points under both sides. The normal recommendation is to leave both random (XXX), which will result in random but equal, or set one to whatever size you like and the other at XXX, which will scale it equally (but allows “equal forces” at differing experience levels).

But that’s not what YOU want. (Or what we wanted to be stuck with all the time.) So: set both Points counters individually, but separately. An Abrams is ~450 points, a Brad ~200, so set Player One to whatever size task force you want - maybe 8000 or so - then set the Player Two points to whatever ratio gives a result that winds up feeling ‘real’ to you, maybe 4000, maybe 2000, or 1000 - whatever!

Another option you may like: the “AI Tank Heavy” button in Preferences. Turn it Off, and you’ll get what our OOB guys thought was a representative force for the nation in question - usually pretty infantry heavy. Turn it On, you’ll get lots (within their Points) of AFVs to plink at.

Inside whatever folder you installed to (SPMBT, by default) is a Game Notes folder containing, among other things, spmbtguide.htm, the manual, where we conceal this sort of information. :mrgreen:

(Or just ask here and I’ll be happy to help ya out.)

I expect a lot of Sandbox user-made scenarios for SBMBT to start popping up online too.

Bruce, I’ve been trying to get into Shrapnel’s BCT and ATF (via their demos) for, I dunno, years now. I just have trouble getting thru the interface. I think that says more about my calcified brain than Captain Proctor’s games, though. I do think I’m going to pick up the big gold-version type copy of BCT before it goes out of print.

I would also highly recommend Major Holdridge’s TacOps4, from Battlefront.

While they don’t offer Saddam whacking, I’ve also been playing a couple of HPS’s modern games lately, Modern Campaigns: Fulda Gap '85 and Squad Battles: Tour of Duty. Either the Tiller interface is actually getting better, or I’m FINALLY (when did the Battlefront games come out?) getting used to it.

Oh, one more - a real oldie - that does let you play in The Sandbox - Flight Commander 2.

(Stangely, I haven’t been tempted, even a little, to fire up Divided Ground :twisted: although Fulda Gap and Tobruk '41 have me thinking about ordering HPS’s Middle East game from their Modern Camapigns series.)

Nick Hyle

I’m about >this< close to digging up my copy of M1 Tank Platoon 2 again & lighting up a bunch of T-72s. John Sponauer even transplanted his M1TP2 Strategy Page over to SimHQ.

Nick, is there any way to alter the mouse sensitivity?

It seems to be awfully slow and sticky on my system - not a problem I’ve encountered with any other SP games…

I hereby stand up and claim that I am the only person ever that liked IMagics iM1A2 Abrams more than Microprose’s M1TP2.

Bub: Is the Desert Combat mod multiplayer only? I still might try it but I’m curious.

Pete: I wonder what Lieberman will have to say about you.

SimplyCosmic: What did your brother think of your little demo? BTW, I’d be curious what games he likes if he plays any.

Sean: May well have to pick that one up. I’m leaning a little more towards OPF: Red Hammer which I’d not gotten around to yet in my gold edition.

Bruce: That does look pretty compelling. I’ll have a look. Two things I like a great deal about the Steel Panther system are the almost roleplaying aspect of unit development over time and the randomized opposition and maps. Still, a more detailed treatment of the subject would be a great compliment to have.

Laralyn: Vee haf vays of making you talk. (Like waiting a month or two? Damn. That does look cool. Are you saying a commercial version is coming out?)

Nick: Good to see you again, chief, I remember you from the cdmag boards. I am greatly enjoying SP:MBT. Are you guys still putting out new versions? And thanks for the tips. I’ll experiment tonight. :) (I’ve got an idea for my next campaign - mercenaries. I’ll start small and pick developing world opposition forces. It’ll work much better if I can upgrade or expand my core into allied/‘captured’ gear. I know I can do that with supporting troops. One thing that would be kind of neat, if unrealistic, would be the ability to totally randomize the hostile force - rather than just pick three potential forces. At least for my mercenary campaign).

Supertanker: I tried that! It requires Glide for quality graphics and the software mode is atrocious. I wonder if there’s a wrapper out there for M1TP2 like there is for Red Baron 2?

XPav: Has anybody tried Steel Beasts?

I hereby stand up and claim that I am the only person ever that liked IMagics iM1A2 Abrams more than Microprose’s M1TP2.[/quote]

Well if you want a no holds barred hardcore tank sim then there is only one choice - Steel Beasts from ESimGames.

Glidos doesn’t list it as supported, but it might be possible to tweak it into running. The Red Baron page seems to say that the wrapper will work with other games. Glidos - High quality graphics for Tomb Raider I

On the other hand, I have my Voodoo2 around still, and my kids’ computer has a V3. :P

I think there’s a middle east scenario for each of allied general, panzer general, and pacific general. Fun stuff.

I’m playing Pac Man, because the dots represent colonial properties I want to take over, 'cuz God told Bush that America has a destiny. :D :D :D We are the best, don’t settle for less. :wink:

Is Desert Combat for BF1942 any good? Is it multiplayer?

Yes, it’s great.
Yes, it’s preferably multiplayable.
Watch out for n00bs in helicopters though.

Is Desert Combat for BF1942 any good? Is it multiplayer?
Haven’t played the original BF1942 anymore since DC 0.3 came out. The class tweaks are great and modern (= faster) vehicles make the gameplay more dynamic.