MicroProse, Amiga £24.99
MicroProse certainly take their time with conversions and Red Storm must rank alongside F-19 as one of the longest in production. The game is, of course, based on a novel by Tom Red October Glancy and was underrated on the C64 (86%, Issue 43). The now dated plot concerns the outbreak of WWIII. The USSR has invaded Iran, occupying the valuable oil fields, and NATO is scrambling to respond. Global war soon follows, with full-scale conventional combat across Europe, Iceland and the North Cape.
Your part in all this is as the commander of a nuclear attack submarine which is ordered to engage Soviet naval forces ranging from attack submarines (both nuclear and diesel) to surface vessels (cruisers, destroyers and even the latest aircraft carriers) – 30 ship types in all (plus helicopters).
In true MicroProse style a wide variety of missions and skill levels allows for vast levels of play. Single missions to destroy sole enemy vessels or group targets can be attempted or you can participate in the complete Red Storm Rising campaign itself. Select the latter and your victories/losses have a direct effect on the war as a whole (a somewhat unrealistic idea but it works well enough given that it's concentrating on one aspect of the novel).
Effective use of sonar is a priority if you're to survive. The manual, like all MicroProse simulations, is a weighty, informative tome and explains how sonar works extremely well. These books are an education in themselves and it's great to see it all working in practice: sonar contacts fade in and out while tracking a target and dodging incoming torpedoes racing around. Even though tactical displays look unimpressive, they work well and there's a lot to think about all the time. The flow of information is constant and no conflict is ever the same. On the higher levels the enemy can get very, very smart with multiple forces employing group tactics and attack subs utilising their advantages to the full – witness an Alfa sub as it uses its depth and speed to sink you.
Sonar contacts can be analysed, and a ship database can be accessed for further information as well as the tactical computer if you're stuck. To the observer it can look very dull. With the 'action' taking place on a screen of lines and dots it's not exactly pushing the Amiga's graphic or sonic capabilities but it's very well thought out.
Overall, the game is a very tense simulation of sub warfare, especially on the higher levels where it only takes one torpedo to down you. Add to this the uncertainty of sonar contacts, leading to a very deadly game of hide and seek, you can really begin to sweat with this realistic simulation. It's a remarkably different game to Silent Service with a lot more emphasis on tactics and textbook manoeuvring. I found it all highly compelling, totally absorbing stuff (even if it's not particularly astounding to look at). Highly recommended – just like the C64 game, in fact.
Zzap! Issue 65, September 1990, p.26