Melee 5 is still a great wargame after 20 years

During the cold Canadian winter, the forest behind my house became a battlefield. Every night I’d meet my friends there, hand out toy guns we’d collected, and we’d reenact the scenes we saw in war movies. I distinctly remember sitting in the snow with my back against a tree and pretending I was pinned by my friend who is now a German sniper. I am ten years old and have an absurdly active imagination. Immersion is everything, so it’s not impossible to crawl through frozen slush for an hour just to be safe.

This is just one of the ways my childlike fascination with war manifested. Between bloody battlefield pictures or watching the few WWII documentaries I was allowed to watch, at 10 I was obsessed with the thrill and glory of combat. Of course, this annoyed my parents very much, they knew that war was neither glorious nor cool. But despite their attempts to tell me otherwise, I didn’t realize it until the first time I started Close Combat on our home PC. This real-time strategy game was unlike any other I’ve played, and it quickly taught me that war is far more terrifying than my kid’s brain could comprehend.

(Image credit: Atomic Games)

Reloading Melee 5 today, funny how I initially found its low-res battlefields so distressing. But even if its graphics haven’t aged well, one of PC gaming’s forgotten real-time strategy games still has something unique and innovative.

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