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Naval War: Arctic Circle Review (PC)

A Duke Pepo (Captain Pepo!) Review

Capitan’s log date: 27/05/12

I have been on this top secret mission (writhing a review about Naval War: Arctic Circle) for about a month now. And it is overdue by three weeks… No wonder my superior officer Tom is infuriated with my lack of conviction and persistency. But as we say in our line of work – CalmDownTom!

The game I took on was very much unfamiliar territory so I was fairly open-minded and without specific expectations. I was heading into uncharted waters so to speak. This new title by Paradox is supported by the Norwegian Film Institute and was developed in collaboration with the Royal Norwegian Navy. Its a detailed and highly realistic Naval simulator game.

While installing I read the manual and got excited about seeing some serious naval hardware in action. The game itself was fairly big and I assumed that it had some serious real-time graphics. Reluctantly, I dropped my true nickname Duke Pepo and adopted Capitan Pepo as more in keeping with the games spirit.

I dived right in and started playing, and as the first tutorial mission was set in motion and then the second, third and so on so forth I quickly realised I completed the whole set of tutorials without seeing any models of ships or even the sea. The game graphics were really clear and well laid out, however, it was just a map with sonar-type symbols for the encountered enemy and ally vessels (aircrafts, ships and submarines). There was also a visual display of the currently selected vessel which was interesting initially, but after playing the game for a while you actually stop noticing it. Its a very functionaly design, but in a modern game its shocking to see barely any real graphics of any sort. I later found that you can view 3D models of the ships, choppers and planes in the game, but the animation and detail on these is limited and in truth there’s little real gameplay takes place when viewing the game in this way.

In a matter of a few hours I learned a lot about one of the most boring jobs in the world. I had learned all about ship course plotting and navigation and I was gaining a good insight into what the day to day situation for a ship Captain must be when a mind-blowing breakthrough struck me: these types of games may not be my cup of tea! Although simulation games can be fun and accessible, even as simulation games go this is a very hardcore experience. It’s something I found hard to get into, and its likely many of you will too unless you crave these levels of realism.

Anyway, as a Captain true to my word I decided that duty comes before pleasure and continued my mission, now well equipped with the necessary set of skills. I chose one of the campaigns and started it. After a few levels disaster stroke. Out of nowhere, for no apparent reason at all, the game crashed, and of course it crashed near the end of one of the more time consuming levels. I tried it again, but to no avail. The second crash sent me off ballistic like a North Korean missile – I was furious for a few moments and then I needed to fabricate excuses for the stupid situation I put myself in. There was only one possible explanation – my computer was not good enough for such a demanding(?!?) game and the only one possible course of action was to reduce the quality of the game display, therefore reducing the quality of the experience. No sooner said than done and a few hours later I was playing the end of the same level without even noticing any difference in the game, but this time no crash was observed. In a game like this performance issues are a real problem. With no complex visuals to speak of, its difficult to see why the game strains a decent PC so much, and even harder to stomach the fact that it will happily crash to desktop when it feels the need.

I had completed many missions, but by the time I faced some of the games tougher challenges I had decided that enough is enough and I had already reached the rank of Rear Admiral. I assume this is a pretty crappy title as I didn’t have any good reason to obtain it apart from showing devotion during some tougher missions and completing all the tutorials. Despite my failure to finish the whole campaign I made substantial progress and this is an achievement that I am really proud of it. Maybe the Army and the Navy were in desperate need and there was a great shortage of competent Captains, and this allowed me get to such a high ranking position…

This was my last log as a Capitan Pepo and I hope that it serves as my letter of resignation as well.

P.S. Back to my genuine Duke Pepo personality I realised that this game is designed to suit a very specific taste (definitely not mine) and if the right kind of gamer plays it may actually prove to be great game. This is for hardcore simulation fans only. If you can stomach the slow pace and technical issues, theres some nice touches here, but for mainstream gamers this is a title thats simply too slow and limited to engage much interest.

5 sunken wrecks out of 10

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