Naval War: Arctic Circle Review

Naval Warfare: Arctic War is a simulation of naval warfare that harkens back to the previous generation's Harpoon-series. Players exercise strategic control over forces by issuing orders to individual units and groups from a Command Information Center style interface. Much like the warfare it simulates, the action in this game is much more remote than slugfests like Wargame: European Escalation. The destruction of friendly and enemy forces observed in the loss of blips on a cold radar screen rather than fiery flash of a missile's explosion. If you are looking for the frantic speed of a first-person simulation, this game is not for you.

Naval War: Arctic Circle screenshot 5

Air Operations from the deck of the H.M.S. Arc Royale

The game is set mainly in the Norwegian and Barents Seas in the year 2030 between the Russians and a mostly Northern European force from NATO. Weapons will be familiar to even the most casual student of modern naval warfare which lessened the learning curve for me as it was easy to understand weapon systems, aircraft and ships at my disposal. Since the developer didn't feel the need to "invent" new weapon systems, I wonder why they decided to set the game so far in the future.
The game uses a simple point-and-click interface without the need for a keyboard. There are a limited number of orders that I needed to learn but the various combinations of different orders issued to different units allowed for a wide array of employment of forces against then enemy. During any particular game, I was able to easily manage multiple groups of surface ships, aircraft and submarines each with differing mission profiles. Time can be easily scaled up to 120 to 1 (2 minutes game time for each second of real time), mitigating the distances units had to travel and the time required to search for and acquire enemy targets, allowing me to quick pass through the times between engagements. Zooming in and out is easy with a mouse wheel but I found panning to be difficult, especially to the south, as the target areas for the mouse cursor are small and don't immediate respond when activated.

Naval War: Arctic Circle screenshot 6

Um.....Just how old is that P-3 Orion?

Combat is a simple affair. Just select the weapon system and click on the target that you want attack. If the target isn't in range, your unit will close to engage. When engaged, aircraft will automatically evade and deploy counter-measures while ships will fire defensive systems like Phalanx. While nice that unit defense is automated, I often felt helpless as I watched enemy air-to-air missiles speeding toward my aircraft.

There are two campaigns to play through and individual scenarios. There is a multiplayer option as well but I never found anyone in lobby. Even attempts to host a game failed to yield a challenger.

Naval War: Arctic Circle screenshot 7

A bad day abroad the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt

Initially, the game lacked a mission editor which seems to be rectified by a patch around the beginning of June 2012. Previously, I was locked into playing the scenarios provided without even the option to select my own forces. The addition of the mission editor extends the playablility of the game. Unfortunately, I found the process of creating missions less than intuitive and the game manual didn't address the process. If you have the creativity and intuition to puzzle through the process of creating your own mission, I imagine you could create some grand naval battles.

Overall, I found Naval Warfare Arctic Circle to be a very good simulation of modern naval warfare but a lack of opponents for multiplayer mode will limit its playability.

Final Rating: 80%. A strategic simulation of modern naval warfare whose following is smaller than it deserves.


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