Strike Fleet logo

Sea-faring simulations are fast becoming as popular as those of the aerial variety. MicroProse's excellent Silent Service II proved that you don't have to be able to pilot the most expensive aircraft in the world to enjoy a damned good sim. Now Electronic Arts have released Strike Fleet, which first surfaced on the C64 way back in 1987.

The idea behind the game sounds simple enough - you take control of a fleet of naval vessels (this is including deck-borne helicopters), and head into one of four different combat theatres - campaigns based around the real-life Falklands and Gulf conflicts, as well as the now-redundant, due to idea of an attack by Soviet forces from the North Sea, or the North Atlantic.

A life on the ocean wave
Having selected which campaign to follow, the scene shifts to that of an Allied naval base, from which the player can choose ships, names and weaponry for the on-coming battles.

There it's simply a case of deciding where to go and steaming at full speed to face the foe. Once underway, however, things can get a bit dull (half the war is wasted waiting for things to happen!), so the game time can be accelerated to 128 times normal speed! Eventually, with much steaming and time acceleration, vessels appear and depending upon their allegiance, either sit there or attempt to blow you out of the water!

The opposition has all manner of ships with which to shoot you away, but the real killers are helicopters, subs, and the dreaded Exocet missile. Of course, you're not completely helpless, with a variety of deck guns, depth charges, torpedoes, anti-missile missiles and copters of your own, but it's always a close run thing.

Radar can be used to seek out ships at a distance, to discover which vessel is which (an early warning of battle readiness). With the radar on maximum long-range scan, enemy ships can be picked out and picked off. This is the essential spirit of modern naval combat, none of this short-range cannon nonsense, now the battle is won - if not fought - beyond visual range. This makes radar a tool no captain can afford to ignore if they want to win.

Once a specific aim is achieved (such as the sinking of a particular vessel, or fleet), it's back to base for repairs, refits, commendations and a well-earned mug of cocoa. Failure will mean a swift and merciless demotion, to something akin to captain of a garbage barge!

Ship in a bottle
Strike Fleet's main attraction lies in the fact that the novelty factor is still relatively high - the original C64 version was good, but wasn't really atmospheric enough to keep would-be Fleet Admiral stuck to their screen for long.

With the Amiga's more flexible capabilities, Strike Fleet is still a tough game to get into, but the rewards are far greater. Although not graphically brilliant, what is there performs the task more than satisfactorily, but a little more in the way of sampled sounds would have improved matters.

One thing's for sure - Strike Fleet is tough, damned tough. Novices to this sort of sim will be lucky to survive five minutes in the water before having an Exocet fly down their throats. Those who are a little more experienced in these matters will find this to be a solid, challenging game with endless possibilities.

If simulations interest and experience you even only in the slightest, have a look at this one, because you'll soon be absolutely hooked. All ahead, flank speed.

Strike Fleet logo

Das ging aber mal flott: Schlappe fünf Jahre ist es her, seit diese Kriegsflotte auf dem 64er vom Stapel lief - und schon bekommen auch wir unsere Konvertierung! Die Reederei hieß damals bereits Electronic Arts, entwickelt wurde das Spiel allerdings in der Werft von Lucasfilm Games.

Bis zu 16 Mitglieder umfaßt der Flottenverband, denn man hier auf Abenteuerreise schicken kann, und dabei hat man wiederum die Auswahl zwischen zehn verschiedenen Schiffstypen, wie z.B. Zerstörern, Fregatten, Kreuzern oder Tragflügelbooten. Ausgerüstet sind sie mit allem, was gut und teuer ist, sprich Harpoons, Exocet-Raketen, Torpedos und Bordkanonen sämtlicher Kaliber. Dazu kommen bei einigen Kähnen noch Hubschrauber, was dem Spiel auch eine gewiße taktische Note verleiht. Aber ansonsten beschränkt sich die Action hier halt vornehmlich auf die Action...

Der Spieler darf nur während der Kämpfte selbst Hand anlegen, im übrigen schaltet und waltet die Automatik (Anker einholen und so). Am besten schippert man also gleich im (einstellbaren) Zeitrafferbetrieb an den Ort des Geschehens, wo es dann in Echtzeit - und knüppeldick - zur Sache geht.

Der Schwierigkeitsgrad der 14 Missionen reicht von einfach bis Windstärke 12, die angebotene Campaign ist sogar nur noch schlimm. Das liegt daran, daß der Feind hier von oben, unten, vorne, hinten und von der Seite angreift! Was nebenbei bemerkt ja auch kein Kunststück ist, wenn man über Flugzeuge, U-Boote und Kriegsschiffe aller Sorten verfügt. Die Gegenwehr erfolgt komplett per Maus - Geschwindigkeit, Radar, Waffen und sämtliche Zusatzfunktionen gehorchen problemlos auf Nagetierkommandos.

Die ganze Handhabung ist gut durchdacht, so daß man trotz der vielen Kontrollinstrumente nach kurzer Eingewöhnungszeit wunderbar zurechtkommt.

Doch leider gibt's auch ein paar dicke Minuspunkte! Dem Programm ist seine Entstehungszeit deutlich anzumerken, im Vergleich mit der Konkurrenz wirkt es immer noch wie ein typisches 8-Bit Spiel.

Die Konvertierungskünstler haben sich wahrlich nicht gerade mit Ruhm bekleckert, beispielsweise "bezaubert" die Grafik mit dem verblichenen Charme der Gründerjahre: Das Wasser hat hier nämlich sehr wohl (blaue) Balken, die Karten sind popelig - lediglich die wenigen Zwischenbilder können einigermaßen überzeugen. Der Sound hat sich sogar verschlechtert, die Schiffe hören sich nun wie Dampfloks an, und die Musik dudelt so unauffällig vor sich hin, daß man sie kaum wahrnimmt.

Wer also das Original dieser actionreichen Strategie-Simulation kennt, wird sich wohl über die mäßige Umsetzung ziemlich ärgern - hat Strike Fleet doch seinerzeit schon erkennen lassen, daß Designer Lawrence Holland dereinst Asse wie "Their Finest Hour" aus dem Ärmel schütteln würde. Wessen Gedächtnis hingegen nicht so weit zurückreicht, der ist nicht schlecht beraten, bei der Präsentation ein Auge zuzudrücken und mit dem offenen mal einen Blick auf diesen Genre-Mix zu werfen (mm)

Strike Fleet logo

There's a lot of larks to be had when somebody puts you in charge of billions of pounds worth of preposterously dangerous military hardware. And the fun just mounts up when the locations for your japes happen to be such unlovely spots as the Gulf and the Falklands. For that alone, this game sounds like it'll be a lot of fun.

Strike Fleet puts you in a position of some power.. You're in control of a large fleet of ships, submarines, and choppers which on each mission must set out to foil various evil empires which have manifested themselves around the world.

At the beginning you're simply in charge of one warship (though, it has to be said, this is a seriously piece of kit) but as you progress you can build up huge fleets, and you'll soon be setting sail with enough tonnage to sink a small island.

Sounds like it could prove be incredibly complicated, true, but happily this isn't one of those simulations where you spend your whole time tearing around different screens checking up on silly little facts and figures. All you really need do is settle down in front of the radar/sonar screen, and wait for some idiot to fly off a few anti-shipping missiles. Then you click on a box which indicates the appropriate piece of weaponry to counter it and it's KABOOM.

Still, it's not so easy as it sounds. At first you'll spend most of your time either getting killed or simply a bit bored. Lucasfilm have taken the old maxim that war is essentially a big bore with a few highlights to heart, and there's much hanging around to be done.

A speed-time option has been included, but I find these things irritatingly false and atmosphere ruining (and anyway, you tend to die pretty quickly when someone's firing an Exocet at you at 64 times their normal speed...).

Take out all the pompous stuff about real-time war simulation, then, and this boils down to a woefully simplistic game, supported by an impressively large manual. Once you've figured out what missiles do what, which ships are best at what and so on, it's all standard fare, and not a little old-fashioned.

It's no surprise that this is an old C64 game updated for the Amiga market - it looks and feels like it in every way. In fact, it makes you wonder if Lucasfilm shouldn't have spent their considerable talents on a few more worthwhile projects. If you're into sea warfare take a look at the wonderful Silent Service II for action, or Harpoon for hard-core strategy, instead.

Strike Fleet logo

Like Fighter Command, EA's Strike Fleet is a commando-based battle simulation, but unlike Impressions' approach, it shifts you down the chain allowing you to involve yourself directly in the action.

The 14 possible scenarios range from Falklands skirmishes, Persian Gulf patrols and several what-if, WWIII battles involving pesky Commies (somewhat anachronistic, but who's quibbling?).

You begin each scenario by configuring a task force of ships best suited to the one you have chosen, though it's often worthwhile making sure at least one of your vessels carries medium or long-range SAMs as they're invaluable.

With a balanced fleet you then set a destination on the map (zooming in on the hotspot) and issue orders to the ships under your command, placing them on general quarters and setting their radar and sonar defences in operation.

With the basics set up, you can shift to the bridge of your flagship. Here you can control just about everything in the game and eve swap to the bridges of other shiups or the cockpits of helicopters. The radar is the most crucial setting allowing you to monitor the activity around you for hundreds of kilometres. Enemy movement is shown as red dots and clicking on them will give you further information.

Each ship has a variety of attack weaponry ranging through surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, cannons and defensive armoury which includes phalanx shells (a computer-guided anti-missile cannon) and chaff. Warning lights on the lower right tell you if you're under missile attack.

If the action is proceeding too slowly you can compress the time, though once it starts hotting up out there you'll want to slow it down to a standstill! After each game your performance is marked and a ranking assigned to you ranging from ensign to fleet admiral.

While the graphics are hardly breathtaking, they are clear and well thought out. The gameplay soon becomes absorbing, since it never takes long for the action to develop, particularly when using the time compression facility.

If you're the sort of person who likes to keep track of lots of projects at once then Strike Fleet is the business.