Some of you older PC gamers might remember a naval strategy title called Larry Bond’s Harpoon. The Harpoon franchise began back in 1980 with a tabletop wargame and then transitioned over to a PC game. The series has been tossed around over the years to various developers and publishers – with the final nail in its proverbial coffin being the cancellation of Harpoon 4 back in 2007. Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations from Matrix Games and Warfare Sims is a new warfare simulation much in the same vein as Harpoon.
The game can be best described as a real-time strategy title with pausing and time scaling. However, simply calling it a strategy game is downplaying the micro-management heaven to be found within. Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations comes already with a number of scenarios for players to engage in as well as a full-featured editor with which to create their own. Players of Harpoon will have a leg up over most new players, but new players should not let the learning curve discourage them.
While the wargame simulation aspect of Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations is fantastic and you can get lost for days in playing it, the game needs to work a bit more on its presentation. One of the most visually-pleasing parts of the Harpoon PC series was seeing missiles and other projectiles narrowly miss or hit ships in a cheesy little graphic. Also, cruising through Harpoon’s database viewer always yielded either a photo or cool graphic of the platform being inspected. In a game where graphics is not the priority – these little splashes of visual panache were incredibly enjoyable. Command does not feature these little touches – instead, always minimizing its visual flair. My hope is that Command gets a little of this minor eye candy in future updates.
*Update (10/13/13): As it turns out, you can add some (not all) database images to the game with an additional download located at the game’s official website. The update is optional and weighs in at 151MB. Hopefully, they add more images to get all of the platforms fleshed-out as a great deal still have no associated image.
The game unfolds in real, or accelerated time and players also have the option of pausing the game to issue orders. Unlike Harpoon, launching aircraft is not very quick as aircraft have to undergo a stepped take off process. Rolling from their hangars to runways or hooks, setting up, then launching. The realism of seeing your aircraft go through these steps is nice but, unfortunately, there is no way to cancel a take off order in mid-sequence.
Now, there is a learning curve to Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations, but it really isn’t as bad as one would think. Setting up orders is fairly straight forward – a combination of menu clicks. Its simple visuals lend more credence to its wargame/simulation-ness and that alone could be too daunting for daring gamers playing with the idea of picking the game up. Don’t let that stop you – if you are interested in war games, I think you will be pleasantly surprised just how quickly you pick up the various options and commands.
Overall, Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations is an excellent warfare simulation and more than a worthy, spiritual successor to the Harpoon franchise. It features an incredibly-detailed game engine in which to wage war and a huge database of platforms, ordinance, and more with which to do it. Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations retails for $80 dollars for a downloadable edition and $95 dollars for the boxed version over at the Matrix Games official website.
[easyreview title=”Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]
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