Operation Spruance logo

PRICE: £24.99

The USS Spruance, if you didn't know, is the flagship of the sophisticated Spruance class of US Navy destroyers. Far more powerful than any ships in the Warsaw Pact, the Spruance are noted for their impressive defence capabilities in solo missions, particularly in anti-submarine warfare.

The game is based around a simulated wartime campaign, featuring a series of missions deployed in and around Iran. The missions range from defending small civilian cargo ships from air attack to full scale invasions against some pretty irate, not to mention well armed, Iranians.

The graphics are similar to Carrier Command although without the garish colours. In fact, that's really what makes O.S. look as realistic as it does. It uses some of the 'dirtiest' colours possible to create a truer image. Sadly, because there can be a large number of polygons on screen at once, plus the impressive rippling effect on the water and the simulated rocking of the ship, the update is a little slow. This is fine if you want to capture the sluggish feel of a 510ft long fully armed warship, but frustrating when you're in the thick of a battle.

The attention to detail is quite stunning. The satellite and radar images are nothing short of incredible and the use of sampled sounds adds to the captivating atmosphere.

As it is, Spruance already looks like a winner, but what really pulls it into the major league is the simple control system. Relevant command keys for whichever workstation you happen to be at are displayed on screen, and unlike certain simulations, working the ship is as easy as getting dust in your eye on a windy day. There's a 106 page manual with the game, but you don't have to read it all to get stuck in.

Recommending something like this is hard, because it isn't to everybody's taste. This isn't a game to pass the time of day with, it's designed to be your day.