The Return of Carrier Command

Geek Culture

I was a massive fan of Carrier Command on the Amiga. Something about being able to command an ever-increasing fleet against an unseen enemy sent chills down my spine – I think being only 17 years old I didn’t get many other opportunities to feel like I was in control.

I was therefore more than a little excited to hear that the game is returning to PC in the form of Carrier Command Gaea Mission. I’m hoping I can get my son into it as much as I was. Seeing that he is only 6 years old I may have a bit of a wait on my hands, but he is old for his age – with games at least. Jon Seddon, a friend of mine recently had a demo of it at GamesCom, here’s what he wrote:

Carrier Command Gaea Mission PC updates a much-loved classic mixing both real time strategy and first person vehicle combat with modern touches and a cutting edge engine. The commanding role it creates ensures it’s not just for the retro gamer.

Carrier Command is a remake due to arrive almost twenty five years after I was first blown away by the original’s smooth vector graphics on my Commodore Amiga. Whilst viewing Bohemia Interactive’s labor of love didn’t quite have that same effect, I was still filled with anticipation, eager to take control of a Walrus tank.

Unchanged from the original, Gaea Mission hands you command of a futuristic assault ship, complete with a squadron of aircraft and a fleet of amphibious vehicles. With these tools you assault the enemy and island hop your way to victory with a combination of aerial assault and beach landings all the while protecting your supply line.

Carrier Command Gaea Mission

Watching the action move from a tactical drop down view, to a remote camera following my squadron, to a cockpit view that ultimately hands me the controls, the feeling is still thrilling. Whilst it might not offer the level of realism of Bohemia’s Arma series of games, the ability to mix tactical planning with hands-on combat combines genres I’ve always loved. I seem to swing between the role of master tactician and ace pilot and in Gaea Mission I can be both — or of course neither should my plans collapse in failure.

Actions are planned from the ship’s command and control center and from here your squadron of aircraft can be sent on combat air patrol, whilst your land vehicles can be sent ashore following your way points to capture terrain.

By careful deployment further expansion across the archipelago becomes possible. Vehicles will be offered in different classes such as specialists in anti-aircraft operations as well as just light and heavy variants that will trade maneuverability for survivability. So, not only will you have to plot your way points and monitor the outcome, but you will also need to field the right hardware to make sure you’re not left at a critical disadvantage.

A recreation of the original game will also be included, pitting two carrier commanders against one another, but this is bolstered by a story based campaign mode. The details of this are yet to be revealed although screenshots show menacing-looking Mechs.

Carrier Command Gaea Mission

Whilst Bohemia were keen to show off their engine and different units, it remains to be seen what it will be like to command myself. I’m keen to understand the level of autonomy afforded by the AI and whether the land and air forces will complement each other. I’d like to think that I can succeed with careful planning alone, without the need to jump into the cockpit and micro manage each stage of the conflict. The possibilities shown by the tech though were tantalizing and reminded me of acronym laden MAG and RUSE.

Regardless, given the attention to detail lavished on their Arma series, I am optimistic that the right amount of time will be taken to ensure that Carrier Command lives up to my memories. I’ve waited a long time for this spiritual successor, but I will have to wait a little longer to dress-up as this particular commander as it will ship sometime next year.

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