Monday, 5 November 2012

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission - Review (Xbox 360)

This game is rated 16 and not suitable for Little Gamers

The "reboot" seems to be very popular at the moment. Batman, Spider-man and even Footloose (why, god, why?) have all seen the Hollywood reboot treatment with varying degrees of success. It wasn't long before this trend hit the video game industry. So far though, the "reboot" has really only seen HD remakes of classic games and the more than disappointing Syndicate reboot from earlier this year. So to have not one but two classic franchises released in the space of a week and to find that both have stayed true to their original retro counterparts is amazing.

Carrier Command, the 1988 classic war game which blended real time strategy with vehicular combat. The aim of the game was use your carrier to sail to and conquer 64 small islands and fight off the enemy carrier taken over by a terrorist group. Players were able to use ground based tanks (Walrus) and airborne fighters (Mantas) and even weaponry on the carrier itself to strike at each island with the objective of taking over the islands command centre. The original saw critical acclaim when it was released on the Atari ST and Amiga.
Since 1988 though… nothing. Not even a sequel.

Thank god for Bohemia Interactive. Not content with creating the successful ARMA series and bringing Dean “Rocket” Hall’s   DAY Z zombie apocalypse mod of Arma II to the masses. They have managed to recreate Carrier Command for a new generation, whilst staying true to the original game and they have done a great job.

The new version features both the same strategy mode from the original 80’s classic and more story driven campaign mode. The Story mode starts off with a long cut scene introducing characters and the reason why you are fighting for control of the planet Taurus.  The animation is dodgy, the voice acting is awful, and the plot is a bit on the cheesy side. Guess what though, it’s fantastic! The whole opening is reminiscent of the kind of games I played in the late 90’s. I am not sure if this is what the developer intended, but I think that in making a game of an eighties classic feel in itself retro still is brilliant.

After such an impressive start it is then straight into a very bland and forced first person section. This is done so that you can step into the shoes of the character and explain how you get to your carrier and start your real mission. Unfortunately, this section makes the game look awful with awful controls and very dodgy shooting mechanics. Please bear with it though this section doesn’t last too long. Then you will have control of your very own carrier and you get to the business of discovering new islands and taking them over by force. Kinda of like the British Empire of old but with cooler boats.

Launching your teams of land vehicles, it is easy to pilot them as a team or indiviually. Although when trying to get all four of them to the same destination from the tactical map can show some more interesting navigation choices by the games AI. The enemies suffer from a lack of navigational skills as well which results with them retreating in very odd directions. The carrier also seems to be difficult to navigate and really only acts as a fixed base rather than a manoeuvrable floating fortress.

The graphics are overall good with islands varying in vegetation from marshlands to wastelands to volcanic lands. The design of the vehicles is nice but the enemies just use exact copies of your units just in red. A little more variety would of been good to see. The day/night cycle and weather implementation seems to have a mind of its own and can often see 21:00 greeted with daylight. The sound of your vehicle can cut out, then come back for no reason.

The game feels like it is 5 or 6 years older than it is. Is this a bad thing no. Carrier Command kept me engrossed and I was completely drawn into its world. Sure, it has flaws, so does all of the latest blockbuster games. If you loved revisiting X-COM recently then make a place for Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, you wont be dissapointed.

Verdict 7 out of 10

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