Carrier Command logo

REALTIME/RAINBIRD

Carrier Command caused a sensation by combining arcade action with a strategy game when it was released for the ST a couple of months ago, and now Amiga owners can get a slice of the action.

GAMEPLAY

You command the ACC Epsilon, a 200 knot aircraft carrier equipped with 8 Manta fighters, 8 Walrus amphibious tanks (AAVs), aerial reconnaissance drones, a laser turret and a whole host of tactical assault weaponry.

Your task is to secure an archipelago of volcanic islands from the rebel ACC Omega carrier in a id to tap precious seismic energy. You achieve this aim by deploying your military resources in a war of attrition - systematically establishing bases on each island by despatching an Automatic Control Centre Builder pod. You have three types of ACCB at your disposal: Defence - for protecting the island network already under your control; Resource - for mining and refining raw materials and Factory - for manufacturing equipment from raw materials.

If the island is already under enemy control, a different strategy is called for. First you take out ground and aerial enemy defences - your AAV's are able to perform on auto-pilot or can be manually operated using the mouse and/or joystick. A quick click on an icon enables instantaneous switching between vehicles.

Arcade action is smooth, fast and furious. Heavily defended islands require a prolonged coordinated assault. The coup de grace is storming of the island's control centre, necessitating the use of a Virus bomb which infiltrates the enemy's computer and miraculously puts it under your control.

Carrier Command involves a complex combination of strategy and arcade action. If the task seems too daunting you can opt for an action game on start-up which prepares a random but equally-balanced scenario deemed to take place midway through a strategy game.


GRAPHICS AND SOUND

At the time of release on the ST, Carrier Command received acclaim for its filled 3D animated graphics almost on par with the Archimedes' Zarch. However, the sight of a Manta lifting off from Epsilon's deck, pausing in mid-air, and then accelerating away with the shot panning to maintain the Manta's position mid-screen leaves even Zarch/Virus 3D routines far behind. Accompanied by stereo sound and an increased number of spot-effects, the Amiga version pushes excellence to the max.

Although Carrier Command's most endearing feature is the real-time icon control of multi-view synchronised action, there are a range of other screens to view. The revolving wire frame damage status screen, the cargo hold supply screens, the intelligence report updates and network status displays are all part of an impressive icon driven command system designed with great care and attention to detail.


CONCLUSION

The gameplay of Amiga Carrier Command is a significant improvement over the ST version where the wait-states endured while the Epsilon travelled between islands were almost long enough for you to plot an entire Mandelbrot set in your head. The result is as conclusively brilliant in all departments as you're likely to encounter without 100 MHz chips and hi-def monitors.


Carrier Command logo CU Amiga Super Star

Amiga
Rainbird
£24.95

The year is 2166. During a desperate mission to find a new source of energy to replenish Earth's dwindling supplies, the Fuel Hunter Ship SS Delta accidentally stumbles upon a large colony of previously undiscovered islands in the South Pacific, each with at least one extremely powerful volcano situated on it. Scientists decide that these islands could be used to provide a form of volcanic energy and so a plan is devised to colonise these islands for the purpose of tapping their energy. In addition, two huge aircraft carriers, ACC Epsilon and ACC Omega are built to maintain and defend the islands.

However, shortly after the programme begins the ACC Omega is "hijacked" by a terrorist organisation who threaten to use it to methodically destroy the islands unless a huge ransom is paid. The only way the terrorists can be stopped is to use the other carrier, ACC Epsilon to gain control of all the islands and defeat Omega. You have control of that carrier.

The entire complex of the 64 islands, and all that goes on about them is portrayed using filled 3D graphics. For the most part, you view the world around you through the viewing tower of your carrier, which is moored off the coast of the home island, Vulcan, the only friendly island. By glancing at your region map, you'll see that you are based in the bottom left hand corner, with Omega and all its occupied islands at the top right, and a number of neutral (green) islands in between, and it is these islands that you must colonise with your own forces before you can set about tackling omega.

To capture an unoccupied island, simply set your carrier's course for it, set sail, and when it arrives, plant a Command Centre Builder (ACCB) on it. To do this, a Walrus AAV, a kind of amphibious tank craft must be loaded with an ACCB and then sent onto the island where it drops it, causing a Command Centre to be built before your very eyes.

There are three kinds of Command Centre: Factory, which produces equipment for the carrier; Resource, which mines raw materials for the Factories to use; and Defence, used for protecting the rest of your island network. In this manner of colonising islands, you can expand your supply network to support your carrier and become more of a fighting force.

Remember that all the time you are expanding your network, the Omega is expanding too, and it's when your two networks meet in the middle that the action starts. Now your Walrus craft must be used for battle purposes in conjunction with your airborne Manta fighters both to defend your network and take over hostile ones for your own use. Capturing an enemy island is no mean feat, and involves sending your precious mantas on seek and destroy missions on hostile Command centres, so be sure to arm your ships with the correct weaponry while in dock before launching. Even then thy won't last long if they're not supported by Epsilon's on-board laser and missile defences. Only by whittling away at the enemies network bit by bit and then taking on the Omega head to head can you hope to succeed.

There's so much more about Carrier Command that I could tell you about, Air Traffic Control, repairing damaged systems, decoy drones, Virus bombs and so on, but I just don;t have the space to do so.

Carrier Command is the breakthrough in 16-bit gaming that we've been waiting for. It heralds a whole new era of interactive strategy/action gaming. As for the graphics, the term "state of the art" is just not strong enough. Everything has been drawn and animated so exquisitely it's hard to believe that there would be room in the memory for anything else, but a superb digitised title-tune has been included as well as atmospheric effects. The whole thing is so user-friendly that the at first bewildering array of icons through which the entire game is controlled will become second-nature within an hour. There's even an 'action game' option for shoot-em-up freaks and an extended mix of the theme tune on an accompanying audio cassette.

All in all, Carrier Command is one of the best games ever to appear on the Amiga and sets standards that other companies will take some time to match. It's the closest thing yet to the perfect game.


Direct the forces of the ACC Epsilon in Rainbird's 3D future strategy epic.

Carrier Command logo Zzap! Sizzler

Rainbird, £24.95 disk

The immense resources of the Draziw Industries Corporation were brought to action in early 2163 to build leviathan craft. These were the Carriers: vessels to transport multi-purpose Manta fighter planes and amphibious Walrus tanks, and collect raw materials with which to build the all-important Control Centres. Their role was to aid the ongoing energy crisis, a situation which was unsuccessfully eased by wind, tidal and other forms of electricity production, nuclear power long since abolished for ethical and pollution reasons.

Two aircraft Carriers were built, the ACC Epsilon and ACC Omega, intended to be totally computer and droid controlled. Time restrictions meant that the Epsilon could not be fully completed, so control had to be under human Commander. The main Command centres and power stations were set up at the two ship base islands, and a runway built for defence weaponry.

All was well until the final sea trials of the Omega, when the Draziw Industries' Assistant Chief Engineer died of a stroke, brought on by an injected poison. A programmer was suspected, subsequently disappeared, and a demand was received from the STANZA organisation. If 15 billion dollars were not paid to them within 72 hours, they would activate the infiltrated Omega control system, now programmed to occupy and destroy the volcanic islands.

You, the Commander of the ACC Epsilon, must form your own island network to challenge that of the rogue Omega, setting up various types of Command Centre to delay the progress of the enemy. Neutralising Omega Centres by destroying and replacing them with your own of adapting them with a Reprogramming Pod, a large and powerful network has to be created before the enemy home base can be taken over, and full power restored to the free world.


Gordon Houghton I heard great things about the Atari ST version of this 3D strategy game, so breath was duly bated... The extensive number of icons and system features needs a lot of understanding and background, but Rainbird have their usual high-quality packaging to make it all easier. The 64-page manual is full of screen dumps and icon close ups, matched by detailed but straightforward text making everything clear. The rotating filled-in vectors of the Carrier on the game selection screen are just a taster for the in-game graphics. The most impressive sight is the lauch of a Manta, the view panning as it leaves the surface of the Carrier. The depth is something which only a few plays can scrape, and with the variability of all the game features and many islands, countless more addictive plays are available. A graphically excellent strategy game worth anybody's money.
Maff Evans It's great to see more strategic games stretching the Amiga's graphical abilities. Carrier Command is an example of the way this is possible, with combining excellent presentation and graphic effects with a game that requires planning and thought. Everything looks as though it is actually being controlled from an extensive computer console, with well defined and logical icons for each function. Some of the weapon and information screens remind me of the computer screens in the TV show, Airwolf (so what if I watch Airwolf? It happens to be a very exciting programme, so don't knock it!) Taking control of a number of different craft is confusing at first, but like any other strategy game, perseverance brings a certain amount of clarity. Of course you can play the 'whizz around a blast everything' game but you'll soon grow out of it! Wading through the systems is rather like watching an SF film, and playing the game is an Amiga-owning strategist's dream!
Carrier Command is played via a series of icons which surround the playing area and are selected using a pointer guided by mouse or joystick. Specialised icons and displays appear at in the bottom quarter of the screen to utilise special functions of the four main game sections. Detailed below are the uses of the main ACC Epsilon icons and the actions they allow.
Carrier Command: Carrier Control-icon The most important icon is that of Carrier Control. The Carrier can be steered directly by the user or by Autopilot, and its surroundings are shown in a radar display whose magnification level can be altered.
Carrier Command: Navigation-icon All vehicles in the game can be directed using a Navigation icon. A map of variable magnification level is displayed and the vehicle's destination and speed set, followed by Program to begin the new course.
Carrier Command: Damage Control-icon The Damage Control icon allows you to direct the repairs of the Carriers systems, which repair themselves automatically due to a cellular composition. Each of the ten systems can be given high, low or medium priority, and are then repaired according to descending order.
Carrier Command: Stores-icon The quantity of equipment in the Carrier's hold is given by the Stores icon, with a diagram and information on each of the 15 items displayable. Supply quantity and priority information can be set to build the hold's resources.
Carrier Command: Laser Turret-icon Carrier Defence is headed by a Laser Turret which you can direct with the aid of a telescopic sight. Decoy Flares are simply shot into the air to decoy heat-seeking missiles, but surface-to-surface missiles need to be directed from a Viewing Drone set at a distance from the Carrier.
Carrier Command: Amphibious Assault Vehicles-icon Amphibious Assault Vehicles are used to drop the all-important Automatic Control Centre pods on land, and can also drop virus bombs to convert enemy Centres, infiltrating Omega territory means defence is a necessity, and the AAVs have lasers and surface-to-surface missiles.
Carrier Command: Aircraft Control-icon The Mantas (Multi-role Aircraft for Nautical Tactical Assault) are under the Aircraft Control icon, and their lasers, missiles and bouncing cluster bombs are primarily used to take out enemy vehicles. Their fuel and weapon levels have to regularly replenished, as they are a vital part of the Carrier's network-building progress.
Paul Glancey Right from the start, the graphics encourage you to further plays; all vehicles - land, air and sea, friendly and hostile - are displayed effectively as a group of shaded geometric shapes, which rotate smoothly as they toddle about on their respective journeys. I found the strategic elements surprisingly interesting, and when my concentration began to wane (eventually), I switched to the fast-paced Manta flight simulation, attempted to convert an island with a virus pod attached to a trusty Walrus amphibious tank, and blasted a command centre with the Carrier's laser turret. Carrier Command will appeal to most games players, being a sophisticated strategy/simulation/shoot 'em up hybrid - I heartily recommend it.