Reviews - Updated on March 30, 2022

It’s nice to see MicroProse rising from the ashes starting to gain momentum. It’s nice not because this is the same MicroProse that made X-COM, Civilization and the first military equipment simulators – in the end, almost nothing remains of that company founded three decades ago (one of its fans revived the studio, former employee of another well-known team – Bohemia Interactive). In addition, the modern MicroProse is mainly engaged in publishing, and not in development. The main thing is not the past, but the present and the future: the company has a very interesting line of projects that warms the soul of every lover of “serious” toys.

MicroProse’s first summer release – the strange, complex, but amazing HighFleet – set the bar high. Next in line was Carrier Command 2, a continuation of the 1988 strategy game with original gameplay.

End justifies the means

Among the progenitors of the second part of the “Carrier Commander” is by no means only Carrier Command for the ancient Atari, Amiga and ZX Spectrum. Other similar games were also released: we can recall both Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising of 2001, and Carrier Command: Gaea Mission of 2012 (by the way, from the already mentioned Bohemia Interactive) – there is something to rely on, but not enough to take shape in a separate subgenre, despite the key mechanics common to all.

The main idea of ​​CC2 is the same fusion of strategy and simulation, and the main character, despite the presence of a standard protagonist, which the player controls from a first-person view, is a huge aircraft carrier under our command. It can accommodate military equipment, both ground and air. The ship itself, among other things, has a solid set of weapons: guns, missiles, rapid-fire air defense turrets and torpedo tubes.

Carrier Command 2: Обзор

This is what our aircraft carrier looks like from a reconnaissance UAV.

The protagonist arrives at the Telos colony, which was attacked by terrorists. The villains captured an aircraft carrier and launched a large-scale campaign to seize an archipelago of fifty islands, control over which will allow them to destroy all life on the planet and put an end to its colonization plans. The command of the United Earth Coalition gives our hero, who urgently flew to Telos, carte blanche: here, they say, is the same aircraft carrier as the terrorists – destroy them by any available means, without limiting yourself in means.

In addition to the terrorists themselves, the opponents will also be automated defense systems that are on each island – they guard factories that allow them to develop their logistics network and supply the aircraft carrier strike group with ammunition and equipment. Our aircraft carrier is on one side of the map, the enemy is on the other, there are a lot of neutral islands between them, and in the end there should be only one winner.

Simulator…

This is the plot of the campaign, which, however, is not the only mode of CC2. You can customize the custom game for yourself by specifying the number of islands, the strength of their protection and the presence of additional rivals. The same settings are available in multiplayer: you can try the cooperative mode or split into several teams – up to 16 people on the server.

In a short tutorial that precedes the campaign, we are introduced to the basics of the original management of your army. The nuance is that, despite the solid fleet of vehicles under our leadership, it is necessary to act here not as in a conventional strategy (highlighted with a frame, clicked on the enemy), but as in simulators – to monitor the indicators of the sensors yourself and click the toggle switches and buttons while moving around captain’s bridge from one combat post to another. A kind of Sea of ​​Thieves in a sci-fi setting.

Carrier Command 2: Обзор

Almost all buttons and screens in the wheelhouse are interactive.

At first, it captures: turn on the engine by pressing a key, turn the steering wheel and throttle, switch map modes, watch the enemy through the periscope and work at the UAV operator’s post – all this immerses you in the atmosphere. It turns out a schematic, but quite reliable simulator of the commander of an aircraft carrier – as the name of the game says.

No less attention is paid to other combat units. Again, these are not faceless units that, obeying commands, burn out in the fire of endless battles, barely leaving their native factory. Firstly, there are not so many of them here – a maximum of eight ground and the same number of air ones. Secondly, each unit is a bright individuality, and this individuality is given to it by the player himself, assembling these unmanned vehicles from several modules. The number of types of chassis for each type of equipment is quite modest – only four, but there are a lot of equipment and weapons modules that can be placed on these chassis: there are missiles of various types of guidance, guns of various calibers, MLRS, observation cameras, virus bots necessary to capture the islands …

… And strategy

After the capture, the island transfers its production facilities to our disposal: one can make special modules, the other one can produce ammunition, the third one can carry cargo barges… These barges, in turn, transport payloads both between the islands and directly to the aircraft carrier. We have to build a whole logistics system for the optimal supply of our army – and it “eats” with appetite: some shells need to be brought in hundreds, not to mention spare parts for equipment.

Each unit can be controlled either by setting waypoints or directly from a first-person view. This opens up a fairly wide scope for strategic planning, but leaves the opportunity to take control of any unit in your own hands and fight as if in a simulator. The latter, however, is rather a necessity, given the not the best pathfinding algorithm of your wards (for which, by the way, Gaea Mission was also strongly scolded).

Carrier Command 2: Обзор

You can go to the cargo hangar and watch your units being sent on a mission.

As a result, the line between strategy and simulator is completely lost here, and the prospects for multiplayer battles for several teams of three or four people seem so attractive that I want to agitate all my friends to try the new game as soon as possible.

Wait and catch up

However, I thought about finding comrades for multiplayer even during the first attempt to start the passage of the campaign – this passage was too measured, to say the least. Most of the time is waiting: waiting for the amphibious bots to swim to the island to capture it, waiting for a barge with a load of equipment, even aiming the main battery guns have to wait! Battles between bots are very slow due to the low damage from cannons and high health reserves, and they can’t be called exciting: monotonous shooting for several minutes with a minimum of movement. Carrier Command 2 is for the patient.

Or maybe she’s just boring? At first, it seemed to me that a loner would not have enough hands on the bridge: set the speed and course for the aircraft carrier, make sure that it does not crash into the shore, give orders to ground units, sit at the helm of the UAV yourself – when to do everything? As a result, it turned out that there is enough time with a margin – you start looking for your own activities. This is certainly not Sea of ​​Thieves, where there is enough entertainment at every step, and during long swims you can entertain yourself with music and fishing.

Carrier Command 2: Обзор

The periscope in the commander’s cabin allows you to look very far.

It is not only the “simulation” that is to blame for this, which initially, on the contrary, attracted attention – realistic distances require realistic time costs to overcome them. But if a ten-minute flight of a barge with cargo can still be tolerated, then the passivity of opponents is already seriously upsetting. This is especially noticeable in the campaign, where there are as many as 64 islands. The enemy starts on the opposite edge of the archipelago, and it will take a lot of time to meet him in battle for the first time. Yes, you still need to fight neutral forces during the capture of the islands, but you won’t find a particular heat of passion in such battles.

So what about multiplayer? Yes, the same thing – in any case, if you manage the entire company with one aircraft carrier, fighting against AI. As you know, co-op will make any game fun, but CC2 seems to be an exception. Opportunities for team interaction are not bad here, but everything is spoiled by the notorious slowness. Of course, you can configure the server to meet the enemy faster – for example, add the number of opposing teams and reduce the archipelago to a dozen islands. But then a solid layer of gameplay disappears, which consists in building a competent logistics chain and committing sabotage against enemy barges. And, given the very modest starting stock of equipment, you will have to fight with a limited set of units – and what is the interest in this?

Carrier Command 2: Обзор

In a team of four people, everyone is busy with their own business.

You can consider the chances of a successful PvP mode – everything can be fine here if CC2 retains an audience sufficient for a trouble-free search for rivals. But the network code leaves much to be desired: constant lags, desynchronization, getting stuck in textures – there is still work and work to be done on polishing.

The sketchy graphics are both a homage to the 1988 original and a legacy of Stormworks: Build and Rescue, Geometa’s past game.

I was looking forward to CC2 (I’m also looking forward to future MicroProse releases) – I like serious toys, and the slowness of the gameplay never scared me, rather the opposite. But, unfortunately, the hopes were not justified – at least at the moment. The developers from Geometa succeeded in achieving synergy between strategy and simulation, but the entertaining elements of the gameplay leave much to be desired – the game is boring even in co-op. Carrier Command 2 will not interfere with a drop (but, as they say, a lot) of fun and dynamics, but for now this is a thing for those with solid reserves of patience and free time.

Pros: An organic mixture of simulation and strategy.

Cons: gameplay lacks dynamics; bad network code.

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