Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Review

If there was ever game that offered incredible depth in both the micro and macro spheres of what it purports to be simulating, then Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations would be it. The action of the game is probably as far away from arcade-level titles as is possible for a game to be. You won't find the ship-vs-ship level of combat found in games like Victory at Sea here: this is a simulation that rarely puts you in the heart of battle at this scale, instead opting for a focus on the bigger picture, commanding and controlling entire fleets and multiple aircraft in a few clicks of the mouse, and all played on an interface that is literally the size of the entire globe.

Command: Modern Air / Naval Operations WOTY Naval PC Game

Overview

As you might have guessed from the introduction, this title is no throwaway action game. It is a naval combat simulator that possesses a staggering quantity of different units to control as well as 40 separate scenarios for you to get stuck into. For the true strategy heads this game of the year edition also has a fantastically improved mission editor, as well as a level of realism in all of the hardware you're in charge of that you would usually find in fully-fledged, professional simulators such as Digital Combat Simulator.

Gameplay

The gameplay - as you would expect from the above description - is rather detailed, with the developers brushing off traditional, user-friendly depictions of the theatre of conflict in favour of a rather complex-looking Naval Tactical Data System. This is essentially a birds-eye overview of the terrain as one would see it on a globe - all actions are represented by various markers, lines, symbols, and acronyms. Don't even bother trying to learn the ropes if you don't have at least a few hours to dedicate to this title; a true desire for a simulation of only the most painstaking detail must be desired for this game to be enjoyed.

Assigning tasks can be done by selecting an active area, or by more Command and Conquer-esque means such as selecting units and guiding them to attack or go to a specific point on the map. Expect to be able to command fleets of sea-faring vessels just as casually as you can initiate a sweep of an area by a team of fighter jets. This kind of direct action doesn't require experience with simulators of this magnitude, though when you begin playing through the game's scenarios and dealing with your forces on a global scale is where this game really becomes quite a challenge.

Complexity

So it's quite east to actually command your units in Command due to the fairly crude and relatively simple interface, but this can make it easy to forget that this is still a highly detailed simulator, and getting things done properly without suffering from heavy losses requires patience and knowledge of what you're doing. For example, maintaining the proper altitude when commanding fighter jets to attack is necessary in order to avoid disaster; sometimes you have to control the smaller details on the fly as well, requiring that you know information such as the proper altitude for dropping bombs from fighter jets, or ensuring that you manually select the right routes for your units. This adds an additional layer of difficulty to the game and shares a common challenge to piloting similar warplanes in more sim focused dogfighting games - http://www.jetgames.org/fighter-pilot-games.html.

Presentation and Conclusion

Sometimes it can be easy to wish that the interface of this game was more like it is in games like Naval Circle, because it is quite crude in appearance, even rudimentary at times. This doesn't affect the gameplay in any negative way, but there is a lot of fiddling about with the mouse as well as the absence of obtaining information about various things in a convenient manner.

As far as the graphics go, this again comes back to the interface, because there are no dynamic "battlefield"-level representations of conflict, but a crude map-based interface that lacks convenience a lot of the time. Sound is also lacking, and though there are some effects for when things are happening, when there aren't battles taking place the game falls silent, literally.

However, this basic presentation must be seen as a minor flaw in light of the sheer level of detail that Matrix Games has allowed you to into in Command, making it closer to a naval warfare simulation that could be used by real-life navies than an arcade-level game. Its units are plentiful, scenarios great in number, and its mission editor really gives you incredible control over the longevity of the game, potentially allowing you to enjoy it for the rest of your life.