A- See Me After Class
Wonderful graphics, easy to learn, and simple to play
Needs a strategic element.
Overall, an excellent game. There are not many modern naval combat sims out there, so comparing this with others would be woefully inadequate. I have played Harpoon, but I prefer sticking to the board game. The computer version bogged down most computers with too much data, you needed to know too many specifics about hundreds of weapons systems, and since there were no graphics (only little symbols) the action was rather anti-climactic. Fleet Command finally simplified the genre enough that you only need to know what major ships, missiles, and radars do, and a simple point and click will send your missiles and aircraft on its way. It was detailed enough to feel realistic, fast paced enough to hold one's attention, and visually stimulating to make one feel in the midst of war. Other games (such as Fast Attack) were so complicated that you could spend 3 hours trying to plot a firing solution to kill a single ship, and if you missed, well, that was the epitome of frustration.
There were only a few drawbacks that I could really see. First, there should be a way to control a ship's speed. This is especially true when I wanted to outrun torpedoes fired at extreme range. The second thing I would have liked to have seen would be a strategic element added to the game. Similar to PTO II, one could build new ships, take over land bases, develop new tech, and have a global goal to defeat completely their enemies. Add that element while keeping the combat interface and graphics, and I'd be playing it for years.
For those who grumble about the AI, I'd like to point out something. American forces are so vastly superior to the armaments of other countries (even equipment once used by the USSR) that the AI doesn't have a lot of options. When playing joint missions where US and Russian forces were both present, my Russian ships were slaughtered while my US ships were untouched. Why? Because US ships carry more weapons, have a greater rate of fire, and can generally kick the tar out of a non-US task force twice or 3 times its size. Launching 5 F-18s loaded with Harpoons and sending all of them after a single ship almost guarantees a sinking. Cycle 3 groups of 5 F-18s coming and going off a carrier flight deck, you can saturate any defense another country has to offer. This is true with *any* modern naval sim, so criticizing the AI may not be the prudent choice. If you really want a challenge, use the mission editor to play the Russians against the USA.