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Thread: Wot I Think: Naval War: Arctic Circle - Rock Paper Scissors Shotgun Review

  1. #1
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    Wot I Think: Naval War: Arctic Circle - Rock Paper Scissors Shotgun Review


  2. #2
    I'd have to agree with the reviewer's conclusion that the game is definitely unpolished, but not for all the same reasons.

    1. On the lack of save function, I do agree that that is a major shortcoming.

    2. On his complaint that naval units are slow and so many ASMs fail to break an AA screen, I have to wonder if the reviewer is unfamiliar with naval games and naval warfare in general, because this is essentially what conventional naval warfare is expected to be like. Indeed, many forms of warfare involve long periods of planning and waiting, accompanied by occasional periods of chaotic action. Eliminate this, and you're not playing a strategy or tactical game, you're playing an action or arcade game.

    3. On AI: I found opposing AI to be ok, not awesome, but not stupid as the reviewer seems to indicate. The AI actually seems a bit scripted, but scripted to attack in a manner that can present an overwhelming challenge. I think the bigger problem is the AI of your own units, which does things that are both counter-intuitive from a gameplay perspective and unrealistic from a naval warfare perspective.

    4. "All the systems work well enough" - disagree on that. The game is slow, and gets slower as more units come into play. Maybe the reviewer is blessed to have a high end machine, but not all gamers are as lucky.

    5. "The graphics are appalling" - maybe the land graphics are, the sea and unit graphics are actually not that bad. But I could really care less about the quality of graphics. I'd actually prefer 3d representation to just be flat-shaded and use simpler models with bare minimum polygons sufficient to distinguish between classes. The game industry has an inexcusable fetish for pretty graphics with only a passing interest in decent gameplay, which is why the industry sucks as a whole. But I digress.

    Is NWAC too difficult and time-consuming to be rewarding? That's relative, actually. Some players can appreciate a game that shows no mercy and punishes them for making bad guesses as to where the enemy is and how best to defeat him. In some ways, it's realistic. In the end, its not for everyone, and even then, there are shortcomings that the devs are clearly trying to fix.

  3. #3
    Lord High Admiral General Baker's Avatar
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    Post 08 (Nikelspank) gives a nice rebuttal in the comment section:
    Your experience with the save-game issue is the only part of this article worth reading (overly critical/hostile opening sentence – check :P).

    The rest tells a story about the modern PC Gamer market. By the sounds of the article you’re at best an amateur fan of modern naval warfare and how a modern war between the greater military powers would be fought in the air and at sea. NW:AC is not designed for an amateur, as clearly demonstrated by your attempts to engage surface assets with your own surface assets (doh). To me that means either this game is attracting the wrong sort of gamer through bad PR and promotion, or people that aren’t in the target demographic have ended up reviewing it anyway. As NW:AC had very little promotion beyond the stale efforts of the Paradox team I suspect it’s the latter.

    Masses of missiles getting shot down, aircraft being little more than bomb trucks shooting down other bomb trucks and submarines being completely “overpowered” (to use a gaming term) is simply how it works these days. This is why Russia has ships that carry more missiles than other nations entire navies combined (cause it only takes one to get through and it’s game over), and it’s why NATO powers have strong anti-missile defences (cause it only takes one to get through and it’s game over), be they other missiles launched from ships or indeed from aircraft (supposesly. maybe. in 2030. uhm.)

    Learning how to use these correctly is why most navies now have more admirals than they do ships, it’s horribly complex and much like co-ordinating the dynamic campaign forces in EE:C/H or Falcon 4 (again to use a gaming reference) you’re fighting a losing battle unless you have spent a long time in, say, Harpoon learning which assets work better against others.

    NW:AC falls down in an area you failed to mention; mission editing. But this is changing as a mission editor is on the way in upcoming patches, which I guarantee will alleviate the majority of your concerns. You can just stick down a massive carrier fleet from both sides of the GIUK gap and have at it, which is how the majority of people with a little interest in the subject area see it panning out. It’ll likely go a different way each time, it’ll be completely chaotic and you’d have a lot of fun. Oh and it’d be over a lot quicker than the realistic scenarios that the campaign presents.

    For those of us that have spent an unhealthy amount of their I-dont-do-this-activity-to-earn-money time on learning how modern naval/air combat works (and no doubt are but drooling idiots to actual professionals in the field) we can create far more realistic and slow-paced scenarios that meet with modern conventions. Because if we’re honest, money rules the waves, not the USS Virginia. No leader will send a fleet that cost the country several hundred billion dollars against another when there’s any risk of actually losing a $500m destroyer, much less a multi-billion CVN. They would fight a war of attrition with submarines and long-range strike assets.

    Rant over; I still love RPS and the articles within, really, but this one isn’t that high up the apple tree for me. This game is designed for hardcore naval nerds, and while yes it can be seen as aimed at bringing in an amateur audience, if you don’t know what you’re doing and try playing the game it will end in an 8-hour session at the end of which you have no hair or fingernails left, your house will be empty of coffee and snacks and you’ll feel like throwing your tower out of the nearest window at the earliest opportunity screaming “WHERE DOES HE KEEP GETTING THOSE FRICKIN’ MISSILES FROM?!” at the top of your voice.

  4. #4
    Turbo Tape Games Dev JanH's Avatar
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    I remember the hammering Harpoon itself received by much (most?) of the gaming press back when it came. Now, this generation of game journos consider Harpoon the pinnacle of perfection, and just trying to draw inspiration from it is sacrilege.

    If we succeed, maybe in 20 years some poor upstart game developer will try its hands at a naval combat game, and be hammered in the press for not quite measuring up to their sentimental memories about some old game called Naval War: Arctic Circle.

  5. #5
    It's not nice to hear this but the game does have issues and its long term survival depends on continuous patches. They actually mention the continued effort of patching so it's not like they are dismissing it entirely. They just say they can't recommend it as it is.

  6. #6
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    Game reviewers (read CRITICS) do what they are paid to do... be critical....

    The longivety of the game is ensured by the mission editor, and the active participation of the Devs from TTG. This game has great potential, and if the community is allowed to work with it, almost unlimited replayability.

    Critics don't have hopes for a game like this niche market one, they just write critical reviews...

    At least the game is getting publicity, people might even look at having a go on the demo before making their own minds up, at least thats how I work...

  7. #7
    Corporal fraggdya's Avatar
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    The PC Gamer UK review is more complimentary, and with support going forward it'll be amazing

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JanH View Post
    I remember the hammering Harpoon itself received by much (most?) of the gaming press back when it came. Now, this generation of game journos consider Harpoon the pinnacle of perfection, and just trying to draw inspiration from it is sacrilege.

    If we succeed, maybe in 20 years some poor upstart game developer will try its hands at a naval combat game, and be hammered in the press for not quite measuring up to their sentimental memories about some old game called Naval War: Arctic Circle.
    And yet it doesn't seem that this guy ever actually played Harpoon, or if he did, he didn't understand anything of it. He just waves the reference around to try to seem credible, while actually making the complaint that ships are too good at defending against missile attacks. Most modern warships are designed to do little ELSE but stop missile attacks, and whatever strategy he was using in NWAC sure as hell wouldn't cut it in Harpoon, I'd wager. A good naval war game just isn't going to be your standard "intuitive" strategy game with rock, paper, scissors mechanics, which is probably what was expected.

    But ah well, who actually takes RPS seriously anyway?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JanH View Post
    I remember the hammering Harpoon itself received by much (most?) of the gaming press back when it came. Now, this generation of game journos consider Harpoon the pinnacle of perfection, and just trying to draw inspiration from it is sacrilege.
    Harpoon continues to get hammered as one of the buggiest games in existence because AGSI refuses to fix it's problems. Instead of just fixing the bugs, AGSI throws out every excuse in the book.

    NWAC is actively following in its footsteps with this latest patch that makes the game virtually unplayable for so many; which can been seen by the many bug reports. As with Harpoon, no one cares what the excuses, reasons, or explanations for NWAC problems are. If the game doesn't work, it doesn't work.

    A better source of inspiration might be how Steam and Iron handles problems. Bugs get reported and fixed.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcion View Post
    And yet it doesn't seem that this guy ever actually played Harpoon, or if he did, he didn't understand anything of it. He just waves the reference around to try to seem credible, while actually making the complaint that ships are too good at defending against missile attacks. Most modern warships are designed to do little ELSE but stop missile attacks, and whatever strategy he was using in NWAC sure as hell wouldn't cut it in Harpoon, I'd wager. A good naval war game just isn't going to be your standard "intuitive" strategy game with rock, paper, scissors mechanics, which is probably what was expected.

    But ah well, who actually takes RPS seriously anyway?
    I think the mistake is very easy to make. In most games you do expect that firing at a target does something. At least damaging it for your effort.
    But here, sending a single plane to attack a ship or even group has next to no chance of success.
    Rightfully so, as this would be unrealistic.

    If you play games for some time, you learn their "tropes" and expect them. So if your "natural" (read: learned from other games) approach does not work, you are not happy

    Maybe there should be a early tutorial mission where the concept of "defense saturation" is mentioned and highlighted.
    (e.g. Some ships with a loadout of only defense capability and several ships with anti ship missiles that need to fire together to reliable sink the targets.
    As a tutorial, it would not need a framing story to justifiy the rather silly setup)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fraggdya View Post
    The PC Gamer UK review is more complimentary, and with support going forward it'll be amazing
    Totally agree. Afterall those organisms that survive and evolve get to rule the world.
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  12. #12
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    I don't want to think about how much money I've spent on the Harpoon franchise since its inception - long before the Internet was up. I have the "Ultimate" edition now, and basically it still looks and plays pretty much the same. Shame on AGSI for a CGA graphics interface, and shame on me for continuing to support it. Got the NWAC demo and will get the game. For $20, it's almost embarrassing. Great job guys - and you will succeed.
    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosseau View Post
    I don't want to think about how much money I've spent on the Harpoon franchise since its inception - long before the Internet was up. I have the "Ultimate" edition now, and basically it still looks and plays pretty much the same. Shame on AGSI for a CGA graphics interface, and shame on me for continuing to support it. Got the NWAC demo and will get the game. For $20, it's almost embarrassing. Great job guys - and you will succeed.
    Harpoon is still very expensive too, considering that it was released back during the mid-90s. Edition after edition they have released, and its still a top price game from Matrix games.

  14. #14
    Second Lieutenant rosseau's Avatar
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    In fairness, I should mention the many Harpoon volunteers who improved the game (for free) over the years. If anything, this kind of voluntary slave labor should shame AGSI even more :>
    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

  15. #15

    An irrational Review - Don't let it get to you folks!

    I am quite dissapointed by this review, as many aspects taht are portrayed as massively negative are simply wrong or a misunderstanding of the game genre.
    I for sure don't want a save game function, thats a strange idea for this kind of game, that for me lives by developing strategies for a scenario I can't win at this first or second try (If I do, kudos to me :-).
    The complaint about not being able to use the time compression, because you would miss important developements, is plainly wrong, the game stops whenever something important happens, and this is even user-adjustable to a degree!
    For the point of the realities of modern naval combat has been enough said in the former post: "Don't kill the messenger if you don't like the message."
    The most absurd point to me are the complaints about the graphics: they are just a nice touch - nothing more, they are not central to the game, but such a concept seems to be incomprehensible to some "modern game"-focused type of reviewer.

    I think this "review" says more about the quality of the reviewer, than about the quality of this fine game.

    Keep up the good work, guys!

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