Say the words ship strategy and the mind will conjure a thousand and one space bound strategy titles, change ship to naval and you'll travel way back in time to the romantic 1800s, there are plenty engaging strategy titles based on both worlds, however there is a distinct lack of RTS based around the model of modern sea combat. Well Turbo Tape Games have answered that void with their upcoming Naval War: Arctic Circle.
Situated in Nordic waters the game contains two campaign modes; NATO and Russian that follow a fictual conflict in the near future, both campaigns play out on the same stretch of the North Atlantic Ocean; a 35 million square kilometre of open sea and coast line, this is one simulated strategy that will test your stratagem.
Now this is no base building rush-athon, naval warfare is a slow business, and it’s not possible to build a ship or aircraft in a manner of seconds, don’t forget this is as close to a simulation as you can get whilst calling it a strategy, so unless you are a completely reckless commander, everything that you will need for a mission is provided to you either already deployed, or via your Aircraft Carrier and friendly Airfields.
Missions in the campaign are generally made up of destructive aims, such as destroying enemy targets, bases and fighting back, however a large amount of your time will also include protecting targets from your enemy, such as precious oil tankers, fishing boats, and even transport ships that you will need to guard with your life if you expect to command the respect of an Admiral.
The most obvious factor that many pay pick up on is the humble graphics of Naval War, which is presented very much like a strategic battle map of the North Atlantic Ocean, units and land remains depicted as simple outlines and depth charts, and it goes to prove that unlike some strategy games, the importance is not held on the visuals, but on the actual gameplay itself, and the game feels far better for it.
What makes the modern sea combat in Naval War different to your standard strategy title is the fog of war is realistic, the majority of units are mobile and you simply cannot know where you enemy is, and the biggest challenge in the game is to locate your targets. So in order to better your opponents you need to find your targets, identify them as hostile and dispatch them as soon as possible.
Now generally the easiest way to detect an enemy unit is to simply get close enough to them, this of course is best achieved with aircraft, after all, taking your precious aircraft carrier 50 miles to detect a squad of enemy jets is only going to see your carrier wiped out, and game over. However detection through discovery is the most dangerous tactic you can choose, on the other hand you’ve got radar and sonars to discover the locations of your opponents, allowing you to deploy technologies such as Sonobuoys from aircraft into the sea to locate submarines, removing a potentially dangerous threat from your midst.
Then you’ve got the most tried and tested method; radar sensoring, whilst using radar or sonar can prove extremely effective at ascertaining your surroundings, nobody is safe in modern sea combat, and the signals sent out can be discovered by enemy units, which will then turn be used against you, using radar passively is risky, and will more often than not get yourself discovered in the height of enemy territory.
As soon as you’ve discovered the locations of your enemy you can destroy them with a range of missiles, torpedoes and bombs, depending on what you are firing from, and what you are firing at, however your opponent is just as technologically advanced as you are, and you’ll often have to deploy evasive manoeuvres as soon as you hear that incoming missile warning!
Modern sea combat is nothing without its ships, however surprisingly you’ll find yourself using less sea vessels and rely more on aerial combat — simply because it is a lot faster. That said there is a decent range of vessels, from your highly important aircraft carrier to small, fast patrol craft, and even destroyers. The most fun will come from your submarines, although they are unfortunately only available to you when a certain amount of stealth is required in a mission, however their firepower is momentous if you can get them close enough to your enemy’s fleet before they catch on.
Your aircraft are the most resourceful units at your command, not only are they fast, they are versatile enough to take out any manner of target, and with a healthy selection of fighters, helicopters and bombers you can pretty much carry out any objective thrown at you with them; unless it involves creeping by underwater unnoticed.
Turbo Tape Games prove that a strategy game does not need an unrealistic or historical setting to be engaging, and that unnecessarily wasted development time on pretty graphics is still a viable route on making a truly refreshing game. Their modern sea combat title puts your tactical prowess to the limit in Naval War: Arctic Circle.
Naval War: Arctic Circle is scheduled for a release April 10th for PC, if you’re fast you can be in with the chance to win a trip to Bergen to meet the developers, just tell them why you should be picked here.