Carriers at War II (CAW II) is a very accurate portrayal of carrier warfare in World War II and allows one to recreate the major campaigns of the South Pacific during that war. As the name implies, this is the second version of this game. Carriers at War was originally released in 1992, and this version in early 1994. There is also a construction kit available, but this review will focus on the latest version, which includes both actual and hypothetical scenarios. So let us get started.
This game is a strategy game involving fleet carrier operations in Southeast Asia from 1936 to 1945. It is a strategy game, in that the action is based on pre-planned moves and strategies, rather than bang-bang-shoot'em up movements. Winning or losing doesn't necessarily mean having the most ships and planes left at the end of the game, but whether the objectives of the scenario were met or not met. There are a total of 13-16 scenarios included in all 3 games, with 6 new ones being added for CAW II. Each scenario has several "what-if" situations, and no scenario plays the same way twice. The player has the option of playing either the Allied or Axis side, and can control all or part of the chosen side. Included scenarios feature the Battles of Midway, Leyte Gulf, Okinawa, and Pearl Harbor. Hypothetical scenarios include Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan in 1946; Plan Orange, (what if the war started in 1936); and (my favorite), the Final Countdown (what would happen if the nuclear carrier USS Nimitz CVN68 appeared north of Hawaii on December 6, 1941). This last scenario was based on a film of the same name starring Kirk Douglas.
Game play is relatively easy. You select a scenario, and then choose a side. You can choose to command all or part of your side, with the computer picking up the slack. Each scenario has preset objectives, and a time line to complete them in. Time clicks by on the clock in the game, and the map updates itself automatically with respect to ship and aircraft movements. It then becomes your task to complete those objectives, while denying the opposing forces theirs. For example, in the Pearl Harbor scenario, it is the Japanese objective to complete the surprise attack and get away undetected. It is the US objective to not let that happen. The results are history now. But here is your chance to change it.
The graphics in the game are okay, for a game of this sort. The game really does not rely on graphics to provide it's enjoyment. There are well-drawn SVGA pictures of all the ships and planes portrayed in the game. The maps are historically and geographically correct, which is something the military did not have during the second world war. There is limited animation, and the sound is limited to bombs going off and guns firing. But, as I said before, the attraction to this game is the mental challenge, not the flashy graphics.
The mechanics of game play are very straight forward and not difficult to learn.
If you are interested in war games, I would classify this as a must have. It can be played in an hour or two, and is not very complicated to learn. It would be excellent for someone who is wanting to see if this type of game is for them or not.
Carriers at War II: Fleet Carrier Operations in Southeast Asia 1936-1946, is the follow up to Strategic Studies Group's 1991 game Carriers at War. The game covers 10 crucial years in the development of air/naval warfare which includes scenarios for the Java Sea, Port Darwin, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.
People who downloaded Carriers at War 2 have also downloaded:
Carriers at War, Jutland, Command Aces of The Deep, Aces of The Deep, Battle of Britain (from TalonSoft), B-17 Flying Fortress, Civil War Generals 2, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000)
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