Naval War Arctic Circle, a game from Turbo Tape Games to be published by Paradox, is set for release one week from now.
I had the chance to play the beta version (V 0.8.0) and, full disclosure, I have to confess I was expecting far more less from this upcoming release. Yes, I have been burned by marketing before and that sequence of one of the promotional videos showing an Abrams MBT parked in the deck of an aircraft carrier didn't impress me too well. Don't judge a war game by it's promotional videos, I guess ...
Naval War Arctic Circle (NWAC from here) is a real time, compact naval war game, with a laser sharp focus on an limited naval conflict between NATO and Russia set in the Arctic Ocean during the year 2030.
NWAC resembles Fleet Command, with the (swap-able) situation map and 3D view windows occupying most of the screen real estate It is not possible to open additional windows showing different areas of the theater of operations, alerts or fighting platform status On the bright side, NWAC has a spiffy and modern interface that makes it easy to find information and give orders. There is plenty of information being presented within tool tips and that saves a lot of clicking and window closing.
The situation map is zoomable by using the mouse wheel and occasionally the zoom levels are not adequate to show both the assets within a task force/fleet and the incoming threats. This minor annoyance becomes apparent during engagements at long range with anti-ship missiles. The fighting platforms are shown as individual stylized (i.e. non-NTDS icons). The game will be modable and I bet these icons can be moded somehow.
The 3D display shows ships, aircraft, submarines and all the nasty stuff they exchange in battle. There 3D display can only be interacted with to change the point of view (i.e. no orders can be given). The 3D models are nicely done, yet (at least in this beta version) they are a bit barren in the animations and "lifelike medley of war machines" department. Even if the developers do not add more cowbell into the 3D department is not a deal breaker, but the 3D engine looks powerful enough to show plenty of things ... Gah! I now want that Abrams tank on the flight deck. :)
In the lower left of the window, there is a mini-map that I barely used so far. I guess it could come in handy for scenarios where the opposing forces are wildly spread.
The game time can be compressed, by clicking on the top bar that shows the date and climate parameters. The time compression is interrupted automatically when certain events happen (enemy detection, missile launches, etc). The class of events that interrupt time compression can be set by the player.
Coming up: using the interface to fight a war. Stay tuned.