Carrier Command 

Review, 1998

Why is a sci-fi strategy game about 'Carriers' in the flight sim museum?
Because it contained a flight sim module, with carrier ops, air-to-air and air-to-ground. And in 1988, this was A-Mazing.
Having settled that, read on.

I played the superior Atari ST version.

On a historical note, all Atari ST versions were superior to their PC counterparts because of the dedicated graphics and sound hardware built in to the platform.


MiGMan thanks Scott "Zuma" Wolf for the scan.
This game consisted of 2 files with a total size of 180 kilobytes.
Not 180Mb as we are used to today (1998), but 180 K. The size of a text file. Maybe your list of contacts is larger than this?
Probably.

One of the very first "Aircraft Carriers" simulated on a personal computer.
You could monitor damage to your carrier with the amazing 3D wire-frame carrier view. In 1988 wire frame graphics were still pretty exciting. You had to set priorities for your repair crews.

Damage display was shown as a colour coded wireframe model of the carrier. Simple and effective!
I had the Atari ST version, a friend had the PC version. They were almost identical, except the Atari version had crisper graphics and that fabulous MIDI sound!
It cracked me up that the enemy carrier steamed away at about 400 knots every time you got near it!
Hardly fair.
I remember chasing that darned thing for weeks! When I finally caught up with it created about 5 saved games and pounded the carrier every which way until I sunk it!

You had access to what was, for the time, quite an array of ordnance. All based loosely on real world systems.
This part reminded me of the old "Trek" games, text based starship battle management games. Text based games, haven't played one of those in a while....on second thoughts, why spoil the memory!

Amphibious Landings

You could launch (and pilot) an amphibious tank name the 'Walrus'. Appropriate, as it was big, fat and slow.

Launching / docking bay. The carrier had to be stationary during this process, which made it somewhat more vulnerable.

Your targets.

Your Walrus stops, lurches and finally climbs the sandy beach, destroying trees with a single laser blast.
Ah, the old reliable "Walrus" amphibious assault craft, with lasers and wire guided missiles.The idea was to send one of these babies ashore to drop an automated construction set, just add water, come back in a few days and, lo and behold a new base!

Hitting the beach.


Check out that lush greenery. State of the art for the time. There's no place to hide in Carrier Command!

Air Combat

And, as well as commanding a carrier and conducting amphibious landings, you also got to fly!

One of the earliest combat aircraft to grace computer screens was the MANTA.

Here, in the Ops Centre a MANTA has been directed to ride the lift up to the deck.

The MANTA taking off.
Or it could have been landing, as the procedure was the same.
Up/down the elevator and an S/VTOL departure/arrival. No catapult required.
That device behind the MANTA is the carrier laser which you could use to attack land facilities.

MANTA coming in to land.


MANTA coming in to land.




Arm your Mantas for Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground, or send one out as a Long Range Comms Relay Aircraft!

Info screens tell you how to deploy each vehicle and weapon system. For example the MANTA can't take off with an unbalanced payload. Although it can fly with one...
Carrier Command featured the world's simulated carrier lift! Even in 1998 simulated carriers don't generally come with operating lifts.

Aha, an enemy airfield! Once you have captured an island you can use the airstrips, exciting eh!
The AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT is under way!

Logistics

You had to keep an eye on your supply levels and maintain a viable logistic network, which of course was under constant attack by the enemy.

Green is good. Red bad.
In this map we can see an unbroken supply chain. And believe me, it wasn't easy to get this far!

I made LIBERAL use of the save game facility.

Setting supply priorities.

Helpful descriptions were just one click away!

Conclusion

Ok, it looks very very basic today, but this game captured the feel of combined ops in a way which I didn't find again until "AV8B Harrier Assault".
A classic sim in it's time which integrated many of the elements of addictive gameplay.
MiGMan, 1998
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