Naval War: Arctic Circle PreviewGeneral
If Naval War: Arctic Circle has taught me one thing, it’s that I’d suck at actually commanding a modern navy. The plot is pretty simple; NATO and Russia are on the brink of war over fishing rights and scarce resources. The other 99% of Naval War, the actual gameplay, is not so simple. Players select a country and go to war based on each nation’s naval strengths. America, for example, focuses on carrier groups and aircraft. Russia prefers warships and submarines. Taking these factors into account is crucial to survival in the below-freezing waters.
Where Naval War derives its difficulty from is certainly not the presentation and UI. In fact, everything has been neatly stream-lined to offer players all of the commands and statistics at the click of a button. The unobtrusive radar screen is neatly presented with very little in the way of diagramming or land-mapping. Again, Naval War is all about simplicity in presentation to make it easier for newb admirals to make themselves at home. Sadly, that’s where the easy stuff ends.
Naval War gives you dozens of toys to play with and basically leaves you to figure out the rest. There are basic tutorials which inform you on how to move, shoot, and detect enemies but that’s about it. My guess is that you’re supposed to figure out the rest for yourself through trial-and-error. Granted, that’s not too much of a problem, given how simple the layout is. It just would have been nice to see a more fleshed out tutorial section.
Visually, Naval War is…there. The seas look like, well, seas, and the ships have decent levels of detail. As for everything else, it just looks like you’d expect it to. Naval War isn’t designed to be attractive because it caters to those who want real wargaming. No amount of specular lighting or tesselation can substitute for good gameplay. Thankfully, the scaled-down visuals also mean the game will run fine on most rigs regardless of whether or not it’s a monolith machine or a peashooter.
Naval War’s combat is also not what you’d expect. It’s more a game of cat and mouse than a direct confrontation. Often times battles will take place from afar before players actually see enemy targets up close. Of course, making a mistake and missing enemy ships can also spell disaster for players who aren’t prepared to deal with retaliation. I know I must have lost ten or so battleships to torpedoes because I was careless.
I can’t say what it is, but I like Naval War. The devs have created a neat little ocean warfare sim, a rarity among most PC and console games. It’s very simple in presentation but demands skill and precision when gamers go on the hunt. While it’s not entirely newb-friendly, Naval War does try its hardest to make things easy to read and enjoy. Look for Arctic Circle to be released Q2 2012.