Jutland – PC Game Preview
Fire When Ready
The 19 battle scenarios all take place in 1916. The huge fleet action on May 31-June 1 near Jutland is divided into eight scenarios starting at crucial times. The other battles deal with smaller actions or are hypotheticals that assume an actual situation developed differently than it did, e.g., a task force was not called back because of new intelligence.
The real-time action takes place on a battle map with events shown in scrolling script in the upper left corner of the screen. Once again, control of units is done through a togglable fly-out menu. Ships are organized by divisions, and division leaders are clearly marked with a large ensign. Selecting any ship brings up the menu’s four basic parts: formation selection, targeting, navigation and menu display choices which, in turn, provide sub-choices. Orders can be given to the ship’s division, the whole task force or a particular ship, or ships can be ordered to form a new division. Targeting aims at the nearest leader or best target. A great addition is the inclusion of torpedoes as well as gunfire in targeting options. Specific ships can be targeted by a hotkey. Different ways of seeing the menu aids play.
Navigation control, however, is the heart of battle. Changing course shows lines of changes with a click and a small box shows the compass headings. Ships can turn independently, in succession or re-form on the division leader. Speed is set by a slider. A main fly-out shows information about subjects like weather and battle scores.
The scenarios come in all sizes and flavors. The stately movements of the dreadnoughts begin the dance at long range with hits coming slowly. The action can be sped up tremendously until the range is found. Other actions begin at close quarters and become vicious quickly. Mines can cause formation disruption and subsequent collisions. The AI handles attacks using central control for long range salvos and local control when the enemy gets up close and personal. Damage to control station affects accuracy. A new scenario editor allows changes in the orders of battle, weather and time of day, sea state and damage inflicted by various weapon types. The old battle generator creates battles with players setting size and length of the clash.
The big picture in Jutland is seen in the two campaigns. The short May 1916 campaign deals with the events concluding in the large battle that gives the game its name. The other covers all of that year, with an emphasis on intercepting enemy merchant ships and protecting friendly supply. Success affects the progress of the land war.
The campaign map covers the area from the Baltic to west of Ireland and includes the coast of Northern Europe. Zoom levels show ports, and an overlay displays shipping lanes. To begin a campaign, players start by examining divisions at bases. Zeppelin groups can be handled easily by clicking on the area they need to scout. Surface craft need more care. Divisions can be combined into task forces and given “rest” orders for maintenance and supply. But “ready” orders cause the fleet to raise steam in anticipation for sailing. Sailing is simply a matter of clicking on a spot, but orders for patrol, bombardment and mine laying require a fly-out menu. Days at sea require fuel expenditure and stress on crew and machinery. Units will require stays in port to regain efficiency. When enemy formations meet on the campaign map, the tactical level kicks in. Thus, scouting with zeppelins, submarines and light cruisers seems essential to prevent capital units from wasting time at sea. Merchant prey is important, but ambushing isolated enemy units with overwhelming force is every admiral’s dream.
Jutland will almost certainly continue Storm Eagle’s reputation for quality tactical and operational gaming. An improved multiplayer module can only enhance the pleasure. More info can be found on their Web site.
Those gamers who shy away from the DRM protection system may want to re-think their position. The late beta of this game promises to be something special.
Pages: 1 2