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Posted on Aug 21, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Carriers at War

By Mike Tomlin

The AI plays a reasonable game, and is going to be no pushover. The tactical problem is simple and one that a computer is well suited to handle. Luck plays an important part in the game, as in real historic combat, and in the earlier scenarios where fleets and experienced crews are even, the Japanese player has a distinct advantage with longer reach. Remember, as soon as the flight deck is hit, all launches and recoveries will stop until the damage is controlled.

Surface combat, in the odd occasion where fleets close, is represented very simplistically with a two dimensional top down view and the computer again handles everything. Air attacks on land bases, or naval bombardment, are not even attempted but is simply represented by combat result reports.

As well as single player mode the game also has a multi-player option over a LAN, or on the Internet, but there are no PBEM or hot-seat options. A scenario editor is provided, which given the very limited number of scenarios is probably a good thing.

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Carriers at War is a very simplified depiction of carrier warfare, and one that relieves the player of much detail and control. It is easily picked up and played and will, for the novice/intermediate player with an interest in this type of warfare, provide an entertaining and rewarding 30 to 60 minutes for each scenario. It is by no means easy to win at first, and many will find that they will want to play just one more game before finally going to bed in order to try and rectify previous mistakes. With that said, there are disappointments.

The game has hardly advanced since the ’90s version, apart from the Windows update and the obligatory visual update. Enjoyable as it may be in the short term, long term replayability is a definite issue, particularly as the player becomes accustomed to the provided scenarios from each side. There is no campaign game option, and those looking for greater depth will be disappointed with the lack of player control over many aspects of the game. Having said that, this has been advertised as an intermediate level game and buyers should certainly constrain their expectations on that basis.

The absence of any visual depiction of landbase attacks actually deters the player from getting too far into this aspect of the game, particularly as the points resulting from such damage are very minimal indeed and have little if any effect on the eventual outcome.

Carriers at War has good potential and with more investment and the release of further scenarios and updates could become one to possess. But it does need updating and expanding.

For those who played, and still possibly possess, the earlier version the attraction of this updated one may not be very great. Younger players who are seeking a quick enjoyable game may well find it rewarding for a while, but will undoubtedly be disappointed with the simplified combat graphics. Most older players grew up with this sort of thing, but the newer generations may expect more and be less tolerant of it. While an enjoyable game, it won’t be long before it’s back on the shelf unless further enhanced.

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