CARRIER COMMAND .. A NEW MEGAGAME by Stefan Posthuma
Sometimes some hormon-controlled neurons in my troubled brains
send electrical pulses to the muscles that control my eyes and
these eyes will start wandering off in a direction in which they
will be struck by photons reflected by a piece of paper on which
there is a picture of Corinne Russel. After that, my hormons will
travel to my mouth wich will start to drool, and various other
parts of my body. But then the Evelien-dedicated neurons will
take over because they out-number those other ones and my eyes
will drift back to the point they were previously fixed on and I
will continue my work.
If you want to become the owner of one of these almost life-sized
posters of the Vixen girl, and the associated game, turn to our
Vixen Competion and submit your answers now! (After reading the
rest of this article of course...)
When I browsed through a copy of an English game magazine, my
attertion was caught by a three-page review of a game by which
the reviewers obviously were very impressed. They called it the
Game of the Year and kept on praising the 3D graphics, the
absorbing game-play and the sheer complexity of it all. Then
ST NEWS was send a review copy (thanks guys!) and Richard
reviewed it in last issue. I have played it for some two weeks
now and I still am hooked.
I am really struck by the enormous attention to detail in this
game, and the technical level of the program. I mean the 3D
graphics are great. They are super fast and solid. So no crummy
see-through wireframes, no way. Everything, into the smallest
detail is displayed in brighty coloured solid 3D graphics. It is
a delight to manoeuvre your AAV tank between the numerous objects
to be found on the many islands and blow away those vicious
rocket launchers before you move in your carrier and deliver the
final blow with the powerful chemical laser.
It is great fun to steer a Manta towards an island and watch the
assassin heat-seeking missiles relentlessly pursue their poor
targets. It is even more fun to swoop down and blow up the
command centre with a devastating Quacker fragmentation bomb.
You can also discover your hidden tactical talents when you
conquer an island that takes a key position in the enemy's
Resource Network and cut off 12 islands in one blow! (I did it
once...) You can also curse yourself when you left that one
island poorly defended and the enemy carrier is now attacking it
and you are too far away to do anything. If that island is taken,
it will mean that my Resource Network will be reduced in
efficiency more than I can afford....But if I take that island,
the connection could be made through that little cluster.... I
can spend lots of time studying the tactical Recources map when
my carrier is heading for yet another island to be taken.
During gameplay, I have developed a style of playing that may
very well bring me to a victory. I have occupied 31 islands now,
and have cut off most of the enemy's Resource Network. It is now
limited to a cluster of islands surrounding the Base island, and
I am slowly working my way to it. Mind you, I started out with
the action game which will take me much, much longer to complete.
Here are some tips for you:
Taking an enemy island.
These are the hardest to conquer. They are defended by a deadly
Maurauder unit. These are very fast and agile flying drones armed
with heat-seeking missiles. They emerge from a very large cone-
shaped base which is coloured in shades of grey, and mostly the
most striking object on the island. It is useless to bring in AAV
tanks, because they can't defend themselves against the flying
nasties. So you can try to arm a Manta with missiles and blast
them out of the sky, But you are almost always outnumbered and
they can actually out-run your missiles! They will get you
because they are faster that you are and you can't outrun their
missiles. Luckily, they can't attack your carrier, but I had the
unpleasant experience of a Manta being destroyed while it was in
the lift, ready to be launced!
So you have to try and take out the command centre (ACCB). Try
mounting a Quacker bomb plus to missiles to a Manta and fly it
in. This will be a suicide mission. Try to fire the missiles at
the Maurauders, and while they are busy outrunning the assassins,
drop the Quacker bomb on the ACCB and crash you Manta into it.
This will almost certainly do the job. A more graceful approach
is to move in your carrier as close to the ACCB as you can get
without being showered with surface to surface missiles fired
from the many rocket launchers on the islands. Move the defence
drones into position, turn around you carrier so its back is
facing the island and slowly move backwards. As soon as the
missiles start coming (ping-pong!) you are too close. Engage full
speed ahead, the drones will catch the missiles (hopefully!)
until you are out of range. When you are close enough, you can
fire a recon drone and pump the ACCB full of hammerhead missiles
(three or four will do it) or take it out with 10-15 well-aimed
laser shots. As soon as the ACCB has been destroyed, all defences
including the Maurauders will be neutralized and you can send in
an AAV tank with a new ACCB to suit your needs.
Resource and Factory islands
These are more easy to capture. Most of the time, you can send in
an AAV armed with a laser and a virus bomb. Take out any objects
blocking your way or trying to stop you, fire the virus bomb at
the entrance of the ACCB and you're save. If you want to destroy
the ACCB, do it with the laser or the hammerheads of your carrier
or bomb it with Quacker bombs or destroy it with missiles fired
from an AAV or a Manta. It's up to you, depending on your
USING an AAV
When you plan to use AAVs, make sure that you carrier's back is
facing the island. If you do not do this, and you program the AAV
so it will go to the island, it will turn around and head for the
programmed destination. Only the carrier is in the way, and since
the automatic pilot does not evade any objects, it will ram the
carrier, destroying (or severly damage if you're lucky) the AAV
and damage the carrier! When you are invading an enemy island,
try not to destroy too many 'innocent' objects because they will
remain on the island and start working for you as soon as you
take over the ACCB and connect the island to your Resource
Landing a Manta
Flying Mantas can be tricky. You have to monitor speed, altitude,
the rader and the position. Landing Mantas is even more diffi-
cult. But now I have found a way which works almost every time.
Use the map to program a destination for the Manta which is in
the right position, near the runway. Engage the autopilot and
wait for the craft to reach its destiation. After this, program
the destination again, being at the beginning of the runway at
very low speed and altitude. (One or two clicks above minimum)
watch the flight from the aircraft and as soon as the runway is
reached, disable the autopilot and slowly decrease altitude until
the Manta lands.
It is great that there are four save game slots. I always use two
of them. One for when I have reached the Stockpile island and my
carrier is fully supplied and I am not in direct danger. This is
the one I can rely on when things really go wrong. The other one
I use whenever I have reached a certain position. When I have
just reached an island and I am ready to attack or when I just
conquered an island. Sometimes, I use another one when I want 'to
try something' which mostly will turn out to be a disaster. Like
atacking an island with three Mantas at the same time. It will
drive you crazy, flying three Mantas and defending them all
against the mosquito-like Maurauders.
The Stockpile island and the Base island are the two most
important islands. All your supplies including fuel have to be
obtained from the Stockpile island. Especially carrier fuel is
important. It says in the manual that additional fuel will be
shipped to your carrier, but the rate of shipping is very low. So
you should always have the Stockpile inside your action radius so
you can refuel. Normally, I plan my raids so I end up close to a
friendly island which is connected to the Resource Network and in
no direct or indirect danger from the enemy carrier. Then I save
the island, make the aforementioned island Stockpile island and
start my raid. Moving from island to island takes quite a while
so and the end of the raid, the supplies have been supplied to
the new Stockpile island, ready for you to pick up. Make sure
that your carrier fuel priority is always set to high.
Nothing is perfect. So isn't Carrier Command. There are two
things in this game that annoy me. One is the long time it takes
the carrier to travel between islands. Sometimes I program the
destination, engage the autopilot and go downstairs to watch TV.
Sometimes I quickly go upstairs to check the position and the
message base, and off I go. In the worst cases, it can take the
carrier 15 minutes to reach another island.
Another thing is the speed of the Maurauder Fighters that defend
certain islands. It is very difficult to shoot those little
buggers. They can outrun your missiles but you can't outrun their
missiles. There are always more of one of them in the air while
you have to manage all by yourself. Maybe I am being childish,
but I think it is a little unfair. But they won't attack your
carrier so you can take out the ACCB with a couple of hammerheads
and render the Maurauders helpless.
Think of this:
A multi-player version of Carrier Command. Two players can hook
up their ST's and each take control of a Carrier, attacking each
others islands, blowing each other out of the sky etc.
Or maybe two players controlling the friendly carrier. They can
now raid an island, both flying a Manta so they stand a better
chance against the dreadful Maurauders...
Wouldn't that be great...people of Rainbird...are you reading
Carrier command is a wonderful game. It is a perfect mixture
between arcade action and mind-crumbling strategy. The 3D gra-
phics are really convincing and of a very high techincal
standard. Everything is very realistic. I mean the AAV's really
climb a beach, the resupply drone, the islands etc. And I am not
even talking about the various aspects of the Resource Network.
The shipping of sup-plies, the coorperation between Factory and
Resource islands etc.
Well done Rainbird!