Retail Price: £2.99
Author: Lajos Palanki, Peter Vitray
Doing the Captain Birdseye bit with a lot of hairy sailors while travelling beneath the ocean waves may not be everyone's idea of fun - but if you're a submariner then it's all in a wet day's work.
As Captain, Rear-Admiral, Vice-Admiral, or Admiral - the choice is yours - you're at periscope depth and intent upon destroying four convoys, each consisting of a freighter and two destroyers. These are supplying enemy troops based on islands in the region, and should the supplies get through, you've lost the war. Destroy your enemies and return to dock within 18 hours and you're the victor.
A variable magnification periscope occupies the top of the screen through which view approaching freighters, destroyers, drilling rigs, lighthouses, and islands are seen. As an added difficulty, fog may blunt the periscope, but the radar and sonar displays provide essential information on nearby targets, and further aid may be called upon - a map shows convoy coordinates and those of docks.
At the screen's centre, indicators further enhance your navigational capabilities by showing the level of water beneath the keel, the directional bearing of the craft, its rudder angle, speed of climb through the water and velocity. Seeing as how the tatter's maximum is a nip over 20 mph, it's thoughtful of the programmers to have avoided tedium in long stretches of empty water by allowing travel in accelerated time.
Diving and surfacing is regulated by ballast tanks which contain either compressed air or water, so that the sub rises or sinks. Compressed air is produced by an on-board diesel motor, (which also recharges the sub's batteries). If there's insufficient air for the ballast tanks then the sub cannot elevate to the surface.
The sub's arsenal comprises a stock of forward firing torpedoes and anti-ship missiles which can be launched and guided to targets in any direction. Any destroyed enemy freighters or destroyers are added to your tally of victims, but your own vessel is also vulnerable to collisions and missile hits from enemy destroyers. The extent of damage is indicated on a status panel. Two of the islands contain docks where the submarine can be repaired, refuelled and rearmed; a guidance display shows the distance from the nearest dock once you're within a mile of it.
Graphics: 3-D, not stunning but functional
Sound: atmospheric beeps
Options: fog on/off, four skill levels
Ocean Conqueror is in a similar vein to Hewson's simulation release Evening Star (reviewed on page 28) in that it takes a while before you can actually get anywhere. The instructions explain all the controls in detail but this doesn't seem to help that much. I spent ages just figuring how to get out of the dock. Once that initial frustration is overcome the game improves tremendously. Graphically it's nothing amazing, but the 3-D graphics are effectively used for islands and other objects. It's tricky to get into and potential buyers may be put off, but perseverance is its own reward, and Ocean Conqueror is the best submarine simulation to date.
As a simulation, Ocean Conqueror appears quite accurate. The graphics are far from visually stunning, but they're effective and attractive. Strategy is an integral part of doing well, and though the instrumentation appears daunting at first, once understood the game is pretty easy to play - not so easy to succeed in, though! A likable game, worth considering for your collection.
Periscope up, full speed ahead. Ocean Conqueror is a really good submarine simulation. Once you've managed to get out of port the whole game explodes with addictiveness. Lighthouses, Islands and even the odd convoy come into your periscopes view. A bit of lining up and away goes a torpedo and KABOOM (got that from Batman...) the ship is sunk, but keep your eye on the radar because you're about to travel over a coral reef! There are a few well-drawn islands out there too. Ocean Conqueror will appeal to most people, even if your burning ambition isn't owning your own submarine.
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