Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations 1.01 Review

I – Description, Features, and Scope of Operations

Description and Scope of Operations

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (CMANO from now on) is, as the name indicates, a Command-oriented, primarily Operational simulator/wargame of modern air and naval operations, with land ops abstracted for now. The primary games in this genre are few: Harpoon (in all its iterations), Dangerous Waters (which is a tactical game), the more recent Naval War: Arctic Circle (now orphaned) and the old Jane’s Fleet Command (won’t run on modern x64 systems).

Because the game uses the entire globe as a map, scenarios can range from gunboat duels all the way up to Global Thermonuclear War, although the game’s focus is, as mentioned, on the Operational/Theater level. Speaking of that map, it stands out as a particularly inspired choice in that the distortions inherent to 2D maps are neatly avoided, and plus it just looks really cool.

This would be the playing field…

While primarily concerned with individual Ops, provision is made for somewhat higher-level concerns like UNREP (Underway Replenishment) and there’s a robust modeling of logistics (the Soviets only made so many AS-4 cruise missiles, so go easy there, Admiral Gorshkov). The decree to which these more Strategic levels are represented in a given game is largely up to the designer of the scenario, which I like, as it imparts additional flexibility to the scenario design process (more on that process later).

Features

  • High accuracy physics modeling of every modern Air/Naval system (or, as the Soviets would say, “Strike Reconnaissance Complexes”) since WWII. Yikes.
  • Map of the entire globe in 3D, with accurate elevations represented via 2D + a Relief Layer to better visualize height differences.
  • The aforementioned variable scope of operations, from Tactical to Quasi-Strategic.
  • Windows©-based UI.
  • Mining operations. A groundbreaking feature and an unglamorous but critical aspect of modern naval warfare.
  • Highly detailed database of all those “Strike reconnaissance complexes” – everything from the smallest ESM sensor to a Nuclear Battlecruiser is here. Subs, Aircraft, Ships, Weapons, Satellites and Sensors are all accounted for in exacting detail, and with all their myriad variants represented.
  • Abstracted land operations. It does say “Air/Naval” in the title of the game, after all.
  • Scenario editor.
  • 40+ scenarios covering everything from the earliest missile boat skirmish at Latakia to near-future ops involving Russia beating the snot out of its erstwhile provinces (always a good time).

II – Stability and Bugs: 9/10

Stability

Almost entirely good news here. I’ve played the game since release and only had it lock up once. When I tried to reproduce the problem, it wouldn’t happen again. And that’s it. No other issues with overall stability. This is some seriously tight code, and it makes me wonder if the programmers come from some other area (besides gaming) that demands a high level of refinement on Day One.

Update: Confirmed.

Bugs

Looking at the changelog from the recent 1.01 update, it appears there were the usual amount in a 1.0 release, but aside from subs changing depth too fast (now fixed in 1.01), I wasn’t sophisticated enough to see anything obvious. I’ll need more time with the game to ferret out more (and there are always more). The real issue is not the number of bugs, but their effect on gameplay and the developer’s ability to fix them in a timely fashion. CMANO scores highly on both these points thus far.

I’ve seen a couple of glitches with Friendly AI getting a bit confused, but this was partially because my own orders to them weren’t that clear. The problems with Friendly AI frequently had more to do with a faulty understanding of how the Mission Editor works, and/or setting inappropriate Reference Points for the Missions. I’ll talk more about the Enemy and Friendly AI in the Gameplay section, as well as Missions and the Mission Editor.

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