War On The Sea - Review

The War on the Sea review begins with an understanding that there are very few video games dedicated to the Navy right now. From popular modern projects, you can recall World of Warships and its eternal competitor in the form of sea battles from War Thunder.

Feb 7, 2021 - 05:28
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War On The Sea - Review
War on the Sea - a more detailed review of the game.

The rest of the games about naval battles of the World Wars era can not be called either modern (Silent Hunter and Battlestations series, "Steel Monsters"), or popular (UBOAT, Rule The Waves 2).

Several of these "well-known in narrow circles" projects were created by the studio Killerfish Games. First, she released the turn-based strategies Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet, then developed a tactical simulator of the submarine Cold Waters, and now she is aiming for a full-fledged RTS dedicated to the battles in the Pacific between the Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Army. Let's talk about War on the Sea – a new project of Australian developers, which was released on Steam in early February.

From Midway to Guadalcanal

If Cold Waters was dedicated to the submarines of the NATO bloc during the Cold War, then here we are given the opportunity to command the fleet of both Imperial Japan and the Allies during the Battle for the Pacific in World War II. The modes are traditionally limited to the single player: historical battles, a dynamic campaign, and battles created in a simple editor, where you can choose the number and composition of the opposing sides.

It was the campaign that I had the highest hopes for: a large-scale war in the maritime Theater of Operations promised interesting gameplay with an emphasis on logistics, supply and intelligence. Formally, all this is in the campaign, but the implementation is extremely primitive. For example, to capture one of the bases on numerous Pacific islands, the procedure is something like this: we assemble a task force of several ships, load supplies and troops on board, send them to the desired point, where we unload the infantry and wait for some time until the target comes under our control. There is only one type of order on the global map – movement; intelligence is represented only by aviation, and logistics begins and ends at the stage of transferring supplies from one base to another.

The development of ports and airfields is limited only by the base improvement button, so the word "dynamic" in the description of the campaign is better to take in quotation marks – the freedom of action still ends with the choice of ship routes and targets for attack. Don't even think about studying technology and building a fleet – these are not "Steel Monsters" or Hearts of Iron.

At the same time, there is too much micro-control on the global map to make you feel like a strategist: you can't, for example, set a route for automatically sending convoys or patrolling-all manually. Fuss with each ship and plane negatively affects the atmosphere, but even without this, the Pacific Ocean in the game does not give the impression of a living world. This is not only due to the simplified concept of the campaign, but also to the extremely inconvenient interface.

Ignoring generally accepted design decisions (for example, the button here looks like a "checkbox") is annoying, but even more unnerving is the poor readability of the map. A detected enemy convoy or aircraft is marked with a special icon, but as soon as the enemy goes out of sight, the mark disappears from the map. You can not draw on it - plan operations in your mind, memorizing the places of contact with the enemy.

The huge theater of military operations does not seem to be the place of a giant battle, as in reality – it is just a drawing of the ocean and islands with the icons of fleets and air units appearing here and there. We met two such icons-we are loading into tactical mode. Maybe things are better there, since the developers ' campaign frankly failed?

Dynamic campaign map. You'll have to get used to the interface.

Killerfish Games has experience creating three games dedicated to sea battles, so I wasn't worried about this aspect of the gameplay in WotS. As it turned out, in vain. The main problem is that "sea battle" can not be clearly attributed to any genre. What is in front of us-arcade, simulator, strategy?..

The controls are too weird for an arcade game. Yes, you can specify the speed and angle of rotation (using the slider, as when adjusting the volume-appreciate the convenience!), select a target for automatic attack or manually press the shot button and ... Perhaps, this is the end of the possibilities for direct control.

The game also does not pull on a simulator – there is simply nothing to simulate, except for the survivability control system, which allows you to send emergency commands to extinguish fires and patch holes in the hull. Plotting the course, calculating the combat solution for a torpedo salvo, working with sonar and radar-everything either remains behind the scenes, providing only a demonstration of the ready data on the screen, or is completely absent. I forgot my dreams about the simulator right after I discovered that there are no tools for working with the map here. I won't even compare it with Silent Hunter or Dangerous Waters – the difference is so great.

The submarine control interface is too complicated for an arcade game, too simplistic for a simulator, and too inconvenient for a strategy game.

WotS is the closest to a regular real-time strategy, but it can't be called a full-fledged RTS either. The reason for this is too high abstractness of what is happening. Numerous game data do not have a clear and visual digital expression, so we can only guess about such parameters as the probability of hitting, the range of fire, the amount of damage inflicted and received, and the time to reach the waypoint. If this is even a plus for the simulator, then it is almost impossible to plan actions in a simple-looking tactic (this is what WotS apparently planned to do) in such conditions.

You have to act largely at random, suffering not only from a lack of information, but also from a terrible interface. I wonder how the developers offer to control the ship in battle, if there is no ruler and protractor at hand, and the map does not indicate the range of guns or sonars? The latter, it seems, do not work - submarines can only be detected by chance, using an underwater camera.

Finally, the slow flow of the battle and the inability to turn on the acceleration of time after the first fire contact finally put an end to the pleasure of what is happening.

The exterior design turned out to match everything else. The graphics in WotS are approximately at the level of the first Killerfish Games, which will soon be more than a decade old: this picture will not impress anyone even on "mobile phones", where Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet, by the way, feel great. Sinking ships do not break apart, there are no holes in the hull, the effects of shooting and explosions are outdated – with the exception of air battles, what is happening is completely uninteresting to watch.

It is difficult to imagine a war in the Pacific without aviation. Watch the air battles in the game is much more interesting than the skirmishes of ships.

For those who appreciate games with a naval theme (of any setting and genre), War on the Sea is likely to be a big disappointment. Cold Waters was also difficult to call a masterpiece (especially for fans of realism), but against the background of the almost complete absence of analogues, it was not necessary to be picky. As a result, after patches and mods, it turned out to be quite a tolerable tactical simulator of modern submarines.

WotS can't afford such luxury – MicroProse comes on the heels, threatening to release several projects about sea battles at once, Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter and Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts are on the way, and in early access UBOAT is successfully heading for release. This year, the selection of games for" sea battle " promises to be extremely rich, but War on the Sea will have to be crossed out of this list.

Positive: beautiful aerial combat, the fight for survival.
Cons: the interface is terrible, outdated graphics, uncertain genre affiliation, bugs.

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