2012-06-13Caption; Strategy and patience is key when it comes to Naval War.
Author: DaveXeno [email@example.com]
Date: 28th May 2012
Game: Naval Warfare: Arctic Circle
Developer: TURBO TAPE GAMES
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: 10 Apr 2012 (Steam)
Naval Warfare: Arctic Circle is a game about patience, stealth and misdirection but most of all; Strategy. If you’ve come looking for a game with fast paced game play, jaw dropping visuals and amazing CGI cut scenes… You’ve come to the wrong place. Turbo Tape Games (TTG) are a company that specialises in simulations for various ventures. In this case they have attempted to take their knowledge of creating an advanced simulation and apply it to game development. Where they successful in transitioning from pure simulation to edge of your seat RTS? Stick around, lets find out.
The career mode of Naval War puts you in the hotseat of a commodore within the Norwegian Navy, taking part in a NATO military exercise in the Northern European Arctic Shelf. This is about as in depth the story gets unfortunately. The delivery of the storyline is two fold, one via a newspaper reel that is quite effective at displaying an overview of any particular mission you may take on from an outsiders standpoint. Secondly you then have a conversation within the confines of a cabinet war room which consists of a few scrolling lines of text – rather retro if you ask me. When I first saw this it made me cringe at how amateur it looked, but then you have to remember this game is not about the graphics – the storyline pokes at itself quite humorously as you progress but I suspect the best you will get out of this game would be skirmish warfare, not storyline.
Alongside Storyline/Career mode there is optional tutorials, three of which are already contained within the storyline (which it ever so kindly lets us know!) and three of which are more ‘advanced’ topics if you will. You can choose to do single missions, or scenarios if you will. Unfortunately these are all limited to the same map, but there are a good number to choose from that should keep you occupied.
There is a multiplayer option that uses the steam matchmaking system, however, because there appears to be nobody else using it unless you have a friend there isn’t much of a MP component. Multiplayer is based around 6 scenarios of 1v1 combat – which is limited but its there.
Caption; Apparently only the Northern European Arctic shelf is worth fighting for!
Digging Deeper, Mechanics.
The mechanics of the game itself are pretty sound. You have your tactical overview as the main part of your screen, a nice 3d render of your selected object, a tactical overview bottom left and detailed information in the bottom right. What the game lacks is any way to convey to the user how most of this interface is used. Thankfully most of it is self explanatory and most detail has some form of mouse-over tool-tip. Ultimately the best way I can describe the UI is practical.
Navigation around the map is clunky at best, when I discovered it had “scroll to mouse”, I thought great! I love this feature and used it extensively in my world domination over Supreme Commander! However, zooming into an area at the top half of the map is fine but if you want to zoom into the bottom of the map then avoid the news ticker that sits just above your 3d window, in fact, your better off using the mini tactical map instead.
Pic2 Caption: The graphics and UI aren’t fancy, but they are certainly practical.
One issue I had, was with the objective system. I have to wonder if this was an ‘addon’ to the original simulation they had created. Objectives are easy enough to find however I found if I jumped the gun (thought I knew best!) and did something before the objective had been updated, or told me to do it – the game got stuck. Because it sat waiting for you to complete an objective you’ve already completed! Second to this, I failed a mission so retried it and found I had already completed one of the objectives at the start of the mission – it had failed to ‘reset’ my objective flags. Reloading the mission failed to solve this problem so a hasty reload of the game had to suffice, which solved it. I found I had to take my time with each objective so not to confuse the game.
The core of the game revolves around cat and mouse tactics, each unit has a form of radar. Activating this radar makes them more easily detectable and reduces their ability to use emergency counter measures, or ECM. This means you have to make tactical use of your radar planes, or radar on your assault craft should you wish to give their position away. Quite often I found I had radar black-spots and had phantom missiles flying towards me before I could do anything about them!
Caption; Lose your radar and beware the phantom missiles!
Graphically this game isn’t much to shout about. Its functional, the overlay works and the 3d display is acceptable as it is far from the main focus of the game. The bonus that the devs haven’t hung themselves up on high res textures and high detailed models is that the requirements for the game remains low. Meaning my laptop can comfortably handle the game. The ship models are, to the best of my limited maritime knowledge fairly accurate
The tactical overview is relatively simple, keeping outlines for unit types, shaded to signify a stack of units. Missiles however, all look the same regardless of it being a torpedo, SAM, AA, etc missile which in a clustered area can make identifying a victim target often difficult.
Caption: Looks pretty reasonable to me!
Animations of the units is reasonable, you don’t see anything flare up as you take off in your F35 but they tend to just ‘move’ around. Explosion animations are pretty terrible, the unit disappears to be replaced by a explosion graphic that seems generic for most units.
Overall this game is an acceptable RTS, I highly recommend reading the manual before embarking on any career missions. As many acronyms and finer details are explained in there (Available through steam/online). Graphically its functional and practical but nothing shiny and the combat/radar simulation is realistic if a little frustrating. If your a real RTS nut with some background in Naval military and its hardware I imagine you will thoroughly enjoy this game. Or if you have plenty of time to go through the menus and learn the difference between the F35-a and the F35-c this game has plenty of playability. However, if you wish to just jump in and play without reading any manuals or prior knowledge you may struggle.
With better ingame descriptions or even a knowledge base this would have alleviated problems of frustratingly trying to understand on the fly what each unit did. Scroll to mouse also needs a little work.
I’m looking at the functionality of the Strategic overview which is near enough what you want. The renders are a nice addition to this that are in themselves reasonably nice to look at.
I haven’t reviewed the audio because its largely irrelevant in this game. There is some nice background music but most of the audio is interface notifications and the odd dull explosion.
With a few improvements it could easily have pushed to 4/5 either way its a well made game with a number of nice quirks.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.