Thursday, September 26, 2013

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Gameplay Review

I'm playing Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations, a real-time military strategy game by Warfare Sims, Matrix Games, and Slitherine.

The game covers military engagements since the 1950’s, and includes thirty-five scenarios of varying sizes, though Command does not include multiplayer yet. The powerful yet relatively easy-to-use scenario editor includes a map of the entire world and essentially every plane, ship, and submarine used by any country the past sixty years; it’s a tool that should be fully embraced by the community. The two tutorial missions are decent, with on-screen prompts for each phase of action, although it does take some time (about an hour for me) to learn the interface and fundamentals of the game engine. The interface does provide lots of reasonably organized information, from orders of battle to a comprehensive in-game database; you can access useful information (sensors, weapons, aircraft, damage) quickly. The map uses ringed displays for weapon and sensor ranges that are confusing until you learn the colors (which ring is air weapon range again?). Issuing unit orders is straightforward: you can right-click on a unit or use the top menu to engage targets, plot a course, change speed or depth, and switch on sensors. You can also easily group units or make a naval formation. Missions are a fantastic part of the game: you can tell units to perform a strike, patrol, reconnaissance, refuel, transport, mine, or anti-mine operation in a user-specified area, and the AI will carry it out automatically for you. If you choose, you can micromanage your units, picking specific waypoints, weapons, and evasion maneuvers on the fly. The flexibility to manage what you want and automate the rest certainly expands the appeal of this realistic military simulation. The AI does a good job following directions and behaving intelligently, and provides a good opponent for the battles. Combat uses dice rolls to assist in assigning damage, and individual parts of a unit can be destroyed. The exhaustive unit research, flexible scenario editor, handy automated mission system, and relatively accessible interface will make Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations appeal to any fan of realistic military strategy games.