The Lost Admiral Returns Review
The Lost Admiral Returns is based on the The Lost Admiral game that won the hearts of strategy gamers almost fifteen years ago. Well, the Lost Admiral may have returned, but like a castaway returning to civilization the world has changed a lot in his absence. By todayís standards The Lost Admiralís graphics are archaic and its gameplay simplistic, but this is not always a bad thing. People still pay money to buy Asteroids for their PC or videogame, after all, and new chess games are released a couple of times a year. However in this case it seems that the gameplay has not stood the test of time as well and will probably appeal primarily to graying gamers looking for a nostalgia kick.
The overall gameplay in The Lost Admiral Returns is simple. The game is played on a map board consisting of a few scattered islands and port cities. You are given command of a navy that consists of a few basic ship types such as battleships and submarines with which you must amass victory points by capturing the ports and sinking your enemyís navy. The ships are the same for both sides and have a rock-paper-scissors relationship to each other. For example, battleships easily sink destroyers which in turn are deadly to submarines which just happen to be able to sink battleships with ease. The gameís strategic depth comes into play in building the right mix of ships and maneuvering your naval assets so that the engagements come out in your favor.
The game is strictly turn-based, with you giving each of your ships movement orders one at a time in turn. Movement is the primary order that you can give to a ship, and the other major orders are movement related as well as you can drop a ship out of the movement rotation by declaring its move over or by anchoring it in place. After all ships have moved combat is resolved on a close-up screen which features the same stock animations each time out. Thereís no random factor or skill involved; each type ship causes a pre-determined amount of damage to each other type. Technically you must command your ship to fire, but it doesnít matter when this order is given and the ships will just kind of float around until you decide to go ahead and shoot, at which point the enemy shoot will fire back at the same time. Needless to say this can quickly begin to feel time-consuming and repetitive as the game progresses. The game comes with a number of maps that provide different island configurations and starting navies, but in each case it boils down to this same gameplay.
While this gameplay struck a chord with strategy gamers in the early 1990s, for some reason it has not stood the test of time too well. Perhaps it is that games have become deeper and more sophisticated and The Lost Admiral Returns is now too simplistic to hold the interest of todayís gamers. Or maybe the original game was not a true classic but rather benefited from a general lack of strategy games at the time. Whatever the reason, the magic is no longer there and the game just doesnít have what it takes to hold your interest. The Lost Admiral Returns tries to keep you hooked by rating your performance in each scenario and tracking your overall skills as you progress through the game, but itís not enough to compel you to play your way through all of the gameís levels or even to make you accidentally miss your bedtime at night. Perhaps support for Internet games might have helped a bit, but not by much.
As mentioned earlier, The Lost Admiral Returns is also a throwback in terms of graphics. Big, blocky, and pixilated are the key terms here. I understand the value of nostalgia, but by todayís standards and on modern high resolution monitors this game is just plain ugly. Sure, graphics donít make the game, but they certainly affect the overall gameplay experience and that is the case here.
Overall, The Lost Admiral Returns doesnít have enough going for it to hook a new generation of strategy gamers. While there are strategy games that can stand the test of time, The Lost Admiral Returns is not one of them. This fleet could use a modernization overhaul.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 50%. If memories of playing The Lost Admiral over a decade ago make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, then youíll want to check out The Lost Admiral Returns. Otherwise youíre probably better off leaving this fleet in mothballs...