Friday, April 13, 2012

Naval War Arctic Circle Demo and Release

A few days ago Naval War: Arctic Circle was released on PC on many digital distributors and retailers, shortly following that release a demo appeared on Steam. The demo is lofty, containing quite a bit of content: six tutorials, two missions from the campaign, a skirmish map and one multiplayer map. It is a real time strategy game that focuses on modern naval warfare and it reminded me a ton of the nuclear wargame Defcon, but without the nukes. If it's not obvious this is all naval based, so the main units you control are carriers, destroyers, submarines, frigates, air superiority aircraft, naval warfare aircraft and quite a few unique types of naval ships and aircraft, like anti-submarine helicopters or refueling planes. It is absolutely a tactics heavy game, the type of tactics game that rewards those who have a keen sense of each of their units capabilities. Before I go into my impressions, do take a look at this hilarious release trailer.

While that trailer doesn't show off a lot of gameplay, it does give you a general idea of the balance of graphics versus content. The graphics are pretty sub par, they are merely a extra addition to the tactical map, which is where you will spend most of your time. Throughout the game you have the option of switching between the 3d view and tactical view, but at all times you can see both, you just merely get to choose which of those is filling the majority of your screen. When I first started playing around with these views I was really excited to see you can track torpedo's and missiles as they fly towards enemies, but it ended being a bit of a let down. When a missile or torpedo hits its intended target there isn't a real impact, merely the enemy ship or plane will explode in a fairly unsatisfying way. This is the type of the game would normally be entirely in tactical view, so even though the 3d isn't great it is still nice to have at all.

I haven't played through every part of the demo, but I have tried one of the two missions and all of the tutorials, which end up being rather lengthy. One of the first things I had to adjust to, compared to a normal RTS, was the scope of the game. Learning that some missiles can travel across a very long distance was a little tough to plan, especially with submarines who have torpedo's that can fire from 1,000 meters, which takes them about five minutes to reach a target. Everything also moves rather slowly, seeing as how the map is rather huge, but all of this is easily dealt with by changing the speed progression. If anything new happens, or if you move around a bit, the speed automatically goes to 1x, but you can crank up quite a bit and watch missiles reach targets within a minute instead of five.

The main part of gameplay has to do with managing your resources the best you can. Lose a formation of aircraft and it's gonna hurt, but it's not an unforgiving game like many other tactics heavy RTS's. If you lose a carrier it's gonna be devastating, but if you lose a single squadron of aircraft you should still be able to work around it and achieve victory. The levels in the demo give you a pretty good variety of units to work, some of which are really unique, like aircraft that have electronic warfare weapons, and each unit can complement another type of unit. Of course everything relies on good strategy, like any good RTS, and it is pretty satisfying to watch your plans work out. I'm not sure how the A.I. works in full game, but in the demo it was a little light and not overly brutal. I leave you with one more trailer, of course with another fantastic soundtrack.

In the end this could be a good game for anyone interested in deep strategy and a large amount of tactical options, especially since it's not all that expensive at $20. I recommend the demo to anyone who enjoys games like Defcon, Unity of Command or Hearts of Iron. Check it out over on the Steam Page. Thanks for reading.
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-Written by Sean Cargle


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