Is this the best the US has to offer?
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Tactics
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 31 Aug, 2020
Combat Mission Shock Force 2 launched on steam with updated versions of three DLCs for the original game, NATO Forces, British Forces and Marines. The Marines DLC has a bigger focus on quality troops than the other ones, as the US marines are the elite of the US armed forces. They’re well trained and equipped, and even has access to amphibious troop transports, so rivers are no longer a problem. To even the odds a bit, the Syrian army now has access to a modern main battle tank, as well as some other new toys.
The New Units
The main selling point of this DLC is the inclusion of the marines, hence why they’re in the name! The marines are well trained and well equipped, capable of dealing with a numerically superior enemy. And that’s a good thing, because they will be going up against larger forces in any level they’re used in.
Using marines feel surprisingly different to using regular US troops. While marines are still humans, who bleed if they get shot much like anyone else, and who prefer to keep their heads down when they come under fire, they seem to be more likely to respond to orders, even in dangerous situations, making them the most reliable troops you can have.
The marines also have access to an amphibious transport vehicle, which allows them to cross rivers. This opens up new tactical possibilities, and the vehicles in question are surprisingly good at laying down covering fire. The other new vehicles that the marines have are similar to vehicles that existed in the game before, like the TUSK variants of the Abrams tanks, which are a bit tougher, but otherwise function similarly to their normal counterparts.
The Syrian side only gets three new vehicles, and a few new weapons, but one of these, the T-90 tank is a beast. Unlike most of their other equipment, this one is modern, even more so than the Abrams tanks, and while it’s lighter than an Abrams and thus lack some of the raw power of that tank, it’s a big threat to the US forces on the battlefield.
The New Missions
There are 16 new standalone scenarios in this DLC, as well as a large campaign . The new levels are focused on the exploits of the marines, and thus they often have an elite force going up against a far larger one. Something that sets many of the scenarios apart in the Marines expansion compared to those in the base game is how quiet they start. If you’re playing as the marines, you’re often starting with your troops away from the enemy, where neither of you can see each other, and you need to carefully take up position.
The new campaign plays to the strength of this DLC, with a bigger emphasis on infantry combat rather than long-range slugfeasts. It starts with a small band of marines sneaking up on a large Syrian force, in preparation for a larger scale invasion, and then has you use this larger invasion force to get a foothold in Syria.
This DLC is smaller in scope than the other two, and thus might seem like a worse deal. And arguably it is, but many of the new levels have such a different feel to them compared to those in the base game that that alone might make it worth getting. It’s still ultimately just more of the same, so if you did not care for the base game, then this DLC won’t change your mind, but out of the three DLCs, this one is the least “more of the same”.