CMx2 is more of an arcade game than PzC:O. It sacrifices a lot to achieve visuals, and CMBN certainly does not exceed CMBB or CMAK for functionality or gameplay. It just *looks* prettier.
The soldiers do not really use the terrain like real soldiers and there are problems with getting them in LOS/LOF because of the grid system they use. In hedgerow country this gets insane. I've had Panzerschrek teams that can't fire, because the soldier is the only one that has LOF while the anti-tank 'man' is in the wrong spot -- all within a single grid. You'll find your ambushes falling to pieces because of subtleties in the LOS/LOF system.
The system is also mismatched between the 1:1 and the abstraction. Essentially, squads have enormous amounts of firepower available in terms of small arms without being appropriately penalized for concentrating due to the generous bonuses they get against area fire effects. You can often win any CMx2 scenario by concentrating all your forces and overwhelming anything they come across with small arms fire.
There is also no such thing as a covered fire position in CMx2. Any unit that is firing is vulnerable to fire as much as you can see their body exposed. Men can't go prone against cover, but have to kneel, making them more vulnerable to small arms than normal (which only aggravates the problems already) and makes automatic weapons like LMGs difficult to control.
Foxholes and trenches have been added, but they can't be placed wherever you like. They have to be in the center of a grid, and since terrain like hedges and walls align along the edge of a grid, means you can't have infantry dug in along lines oriented to cover or concealment. Your men also can't see past the terrain, since they are too far behind it to get a view. Foxholes have problems because they're stuck in square formations of four, which means the back foxholes won't have the same LOF as the front foxholes. (No you can't control orientation.) The effect of this is that you only benefit from entrenchment in open terrain along the axis of fire.
In addition, they've made all hedges (not just "bocage") into significant positions by adding terrain elevation lips to those features, making attacker cover unrealistically available and melding concealment with cover in ways worse than they already did in the original series. (that is, "exposure")
PzC:O sticks to abstraction which aims at getting the results right straight out of the gate. Nothing is sacrificed for visuals. It is much more aligned with the design philosophy that inspired and was borrowed by the old CM series from ASL. In my opinion, it is more realistic with respect to the results you get, but suffers from over-generous cover abstractions (just like CMx1 did) and so player input and player decisions matter less. Light infantry tactics aren't viable in PzC:O and typical line tactics work without too much regard for terrain.
To summarize, I think CMBN gives the gamer more to do and allows his inputs to matter more, but those inputs are mostly geared around gaming the system itself and don't lend themselves to reality, whereas the PzC:O system will give you more realistic overall results but can come across as a battle resolution system rather than a game.
PzC:O also has soooo much more content, in terms of scenarios and campaigns and units... And the customization options are enticing if you're into that sort of tweaking.
PzC:O is what I wish CMx2 had been originally.
I strongly disagree with this.
I own both and enjoy most key aspects of both, although they both have their flaws.
PCO delivers great East Front action with a solid AI for armour, but in many instances, the PCO infantry just walk towards my Panzers like Zombies to the slaughter - very strange to witness, but rarely reported in the forums, as far as I can tell. However, I have been playing PCO random battles with 100% armour and having great fun with those, re-learning my WW2 armour tactics.
IMHO the CMBN infantry model is vastly superior and so is the command system. True, there are LOS issues and it's not perfect, but I can't recall having experienced a better representation of infantry combat. The infantry move quite realistically, certainly way more realistically than in PCO, and as long as you plan your movement paths sensibly and recon your fire positions, the 'issues' listed above are few and far between, though they do exist and can be frustrating.
Visually, CMBN is way better. I know that some players call this mere eye candy, but convincing visuals PLUS good game play will always win. PCO needs to follow the CMBN lead in this area.
Nevertheless, I think the CM engine has spent years in the wilderness with its Shock Force versions and I also think that had BF chosen the East Front instead of Normandy, they would be giving PCO a much harder run for its money.
Finally, I was very disappointed to see how few campaigns and scenarios CMBN came out with, particularly for the Axis side - one campaign and that only has 4-5 decent battles before it descends into farce, in my experience. PCO is ahead by miles on that front. Just fix the infantry please!
WitE2 tester, WitW, WitP, CMMO, CM2, GTOS, GTMF, WP & WPP, TOAW4, BA2