Mastertronic – Bohemia Interactive – PC/Xbox 360 (version reviewed) – Single Player
Bohemia Interactive’s Carrier Command may ring a bell with some people. It was a multi-platform strategy game from 1988. 24 years later comes a remake in the form of Gaea Missions. Carrier Command is set in a future where the Asian Pacific Alliance has gained control of the Earth in an apocalyptic war against the United Earth Coalition and are now in conflict over the planetoid Taurus, a vast ocean planet, dotted in resource rich islands. After a botched landing, the UEC are stranded on an island. This is where the main campaign kicks off. Starting off as an FPS, the player must make their way through and capture the island. Things start off a tad slow, and there isn’t really a lot to the controls but it plays quite well. Once this mission is complete, you take control of a Walrus, an armoured, amphibious, assault vehicle, moving the game into strategic territory. Once the Walrus is secured, a Carrier is also made available. The Carrier becomes the main hub of operations and the mode of transport to move between the islands of Taurus. Each island is inhabited by the APA, and and it’s down to the player to remove the opposing forces and take over the island for their own gain.
The first few islands act as a tutorial, allowing the player to get to grips with the strategic side of the game and also introduce the gamer to the sort of missions that can be expected. Once the second island is reached, the game goes from FPS, to strategic action shooter. It’s not long before the next vehicle is unlocked. The Manta is an aerial vehicle which can be mounted with various weapons, as with the Walrus. These vehicles are then able to dock with the carrier, allowing for a number of each to be transported between islands. Control of these vehicles work in a few ways. The player can choose between controlling a vehicle individually and having the other vehicles do as commanded, much like a typical squad based shooter. Alternatively, the player can command the vehicles over map view, directing the vehicles to whichever area required. Eventually the Carrier itself can be controlled, to move freely around each island, although attention is required as it can be quite easy to run aground.
The game is a slow burner with a long but steady learning curve, making a refreshing change from a lot of action shooters these days.Patience is a virtue when it comes to Carrier Command, as some missions require planning, and attacking the enemy isn’t always straight forward. It’s a game that goes against the grain, a thinking gamers action game, not just another balls to the wall shooter. It’s not something you can run into guns a blazing and expect to come out the other side.The world is nicely rendered, with each island having different environments, lush greenery to barren wastelands and boggy marshes, and while not pushed to the limit, it still looks pretty great.
As well as the main campaign, there’s also Strategy mode, in which the player starts off with a Carrier and has to take all the islands back from the APA, using all the resources available to them, which can be defined by the player before the game starts, allowing for an advantage or more of a challenge. It’s basically the same gameplay as the campaign, without the story or the need to work your way through vehicular upgrades. Carrier Command Gaea Mission, is probably the surprise of 2012. While first impressions appear to be another production line shooter, it actually turns out to be a very satisfying experience. It’s probably not going to be the type of game for those who prefer the instant gratification of the ultraviolent FPS, but for those who like to be challenged, and to have plenty of depth, look no further, with hours of involving gameplay, it’s a welcome change from the usual action fare that has flooded the market for the last few years.