As the Iron Curtain finally comes down on the Cold War, out from the deep of mid-
In a game based over four different time zones, commanders can fight battles beneath the sea any time from 1984 to a factitious future where new developments in weapons technology make death-
Commanders have a selection of screens to watch as they prey beneath the seas, with cursory shots of sinking ships thrown in for good measure. The skill comes not only from being in the right place to strike, but also from accessing the correct charts and weapons to be effective. The main game's viewed on a tactical map and so subs and ships are only seen as blips on a radar screen.
There's masses of other information a budding Cap'n Nemo must take into account while sailing. Many things make the art of detecting enemy shipping without being detected yourself difficult. Thermal ducts in the water can mask or distort sonar, while certain bits of nautical kit function better at different depths and speeds. Acoustic signatures can be compared to identify a ship class while the detection levels can be watched, letting you know just how sly you've been.
These toys for boys would be incomplete without weaponry. It's here that RSR metamorphoses from a diverting undersea drive into a true game. Torpedoes have manifold abilities, and can be fired undetectably and unjammably on wire, or can hunt ships on their own with sonar in preset left or right search patterns.
Missiles can be launched at shallower depths, but make you rather obvious. You need to know which defence systems which ships pack, because it's stupid to give away the element of surprise with a weapon that will not sink the opposition. Once they realise you're about it's kill or be killed.
The action is largely key controlled, so the MicroProse standard 'punch out chart' is essential. As the hunt takes shape decisions have to be instantaneous and correct. It's the thrill of the chase, the sudden strike from the deep followed by a charge for the welcoming anonymity of the ocean. In the middle of a battle the quick reference chart can save your life, when a reload's needed and you can't remember the key stroke sequence. This speed of action contrasts with the authentic, but terrifying, slowness of the 7,000-ton beast you control.
Simultaneous reading and playing is never a totally enjoyable experience, but it's vital if you're to weather the storm. The list of variables is truly immense, but there are a few manoeuvres that must be learnt - skills which the practice options are designed to build. Once armed with experience it's time to start out on single raids and eventually go for the big one, the Red Storm campaign - the Russian hordes en masse.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
RSR is an odd simulation, because there's no 'cockpit view' - only maps, charts and the virtually useless periscope. This lack of the 'being there' sensation doesn't detract from the excitement. When the torps start scraping the paint from your ship, palms perspire and tempers fray. Zooming in and out of the tactical map, commanders must make the right call at the right moment. Lives - your crew's and your nation's - depend on success.
As with any game there's a 'run silent' option, the sounds of RSR are no great shakes. The prop chugs away in the background, but little else. Even when a direct hit's scored and you watch mighty warships sink beneath the waves, there's no fury from graphics or sound. Explicit violence is not the reason you persevere with RSR.
Controlling a nuclear sub takes skill and practice. Add this to the challenge of a full-
In RSR valour is banished to the brig: cold-