SummaryFull speed ahead!
The GoodThere is a very good online store that sends a free game with the purchase of a game. This is the game that I received for free and so far it has proven to be one of the most enjoyable games I've played. The scope of this game is limited four years of WWII and is solely focused on ship-to-ship combat. Die hard simmers will miss U-boats, aircraft, and land, but I personally felt challenged enough by combatants I could see.
This game plays in a 2D and 3D mode which the player can toggle between, the 2D mode is great for navigation and the 3D mode for torpedos. There is also a pause feature from which you can still issue commands. You can choose to command ships by division or individually and control navigation, gunnery options, and torpedoes. There is also a great customization feature that makes the game open to novices and challenging to experts (examples include allowing dud torpedos or having ships wander off-course).
The game has a campaign mode and a historical scenario mode (and an editor). So far I have confined myself to the historical scenarios (such as sinking the Bismarck) and I am very pleased that you can play a scenario as one side then replay it as the other. This option revealed how good the AI actually is. The AI reacts to different strategies and seems capable of making decisions on the fly.
Graphically this game is limited, even accounting for its age. Ships are pretty well detailed, although damage is only shown through smoke and fire effects. The water on the other hand fails to inspire.
The manual is among the best I have ever read. It is concise without lacking information and gives detailed statistics on units and explains game controls. The manual also contains a section where the programmers explain their vision of the game and explain decisions such as not including submarines. The interface seems daunting at first but after I learned the keyboard shortcuts, it became very easy to issue commands without pausing the game.
The BadApparently this game was very buggy in its initial release, subsequent patches have fixed aspects of gameplay but even now this game will crash to Windows at least once a session* and occasionally sound drops out when I switch between the 2D and 3D mode.
Also, while the sound of the ships, guns, and water sound fine, there is no ingame music and the few voice-overs "One of our ships is sinking." "A torpedo has struck an enemy ship." don't have the urgency you would expect.
Other than that, I have no complaints.
*This is extremely annoying, but you can select an auto-save feature to save your game every 5 minutes.
The Bottom LineThis is a very engaging war game. I am largely unfamiliar with the genre (having only played games Pirates and Man of War, but I appreciate games that incorporate strategy in gameplay like Myth. If you enjoy naval combat, from what I've seen, this is one of the better games available. Hopefully a sequel will improve stability and graphics.