Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations 1.01 Review

V – Modding and Scenario Creation: (9)/10 (provisional)

I found the Scenario Editor to be quite easy to use, and the Scripted Events feature really allows the scenario creator to spice things up by inserting Events which otherwise couldn’t be done (or would have to be left to chance). I also enjoyed just going in and playing around with existing scenarios, doing things like replacing a Kiev-class CVHG with my lovely Kirov-class BCGN (or RKR – whatever!) in the “Duelists” scenario.

Not being an expert at scenario creation myself, the ease of use here really interests me, not only because perhaps I can now try my hand at scenario design, but it also ensures a plentiful supply of scenarios from the CMANO community at large. Judging by the quality of the scenarios created thus far, the Scenario Editor is certainly powerful. But frankly I just don’t feel qualified to make a judgment with regard to its sophistication, since I simply haven’t had sufficient time to learn all it can do.

One really cool feature is the ability to import pre-made, real-world installations. There’s already an exhaustive list of these, and it really shortens up the time it takes to create a scenario. Otherwise, I’d be stuck going online, trying to find out just how many “Hen House” radars are present at a 1980’s Soviet ABM site for instance.

Oh, Thank God for this…

While I’m not qualified to render an absolutely final judgment on the Scenario Editor, I will just say this:

Ragnar Emsoy, the CMANO head honcho for all things database-related, created absolutely the best Harpoon 3 scenarios I ever played, even managing to model things like the orbit of Soviet RORSAT’s (along with the prototype ASAT missile to shoot them down). One can feel his influence here, as this editor had to meet the standards of a great scenario designer. That gives me considerable confidence that it’s been done “right”, and I also believe he’ll keep tinkering even after everyone else thinks it’s perfect. The guy has a track record of this sort of behavior.

Custom Layers

A great-sounding feature which, again, I’m not yet sophisticated enough to fully assess, is the ability to import things like actual satellite imagery of facilities for the purpose (primarily) of scenario design.

This seems brilliant, because with the proper satellite imagery, you can (re)create an airbase (or other facility, including SAM sites) simply by dropping the appropriate component structures on the location of their real-life counterparts. So, forget about making “realistic” installations. Here, we’re talking about perfect copies of real-life installations.

Right now, I’m trying my hand at recreating all the installations associated with the A-135 ABM system at various sites around Moscow. I’ll need them for the scenario I’m working on, which involves a surprise IRBM attack by a certain neighbor to their south…

53T6 Gazelle ABM launch site near Moscow

 

VI – The Bottom Line: 9.5/10

While imperfect in its 1.01 release, if you have even mild interest in the underlying subject matter (Modern Air/Naval Warfare), I can just about guarantee that you’ll be captivated by And you better be, because the game isn’t cheap – either in monetary terms or the brainpower you’ll need to expend in order to see your plans of victory come to fruition. This is not Wargame: AirLand Battle, nor does it want to be.

“There’s a simple answer to every complex question – And it’s wrong.”

- Umberto Eco

Command ANO is a complex simulator, and whether you should buy it or not is equally a somewhat complex question. It really depends on what you’re looking for.

Command is for you if:

  • You realize that what you’re buying isn’t just a game, but more like an ongoing ‘subscription’ to a simulator with a verifiably perfectionistic development crew that will be constantly tinkering to improve it. They proved this with their work on DB2000, which was done without any financial incentives whatsoever.
  • You derive fun and excitement from the verisimilitude of a simulator, in seeing things happen that appear to be ripped out of headlines or books about modern warfare that you’ve read.
  • You’re into (air/naval) military hardware and want the ultimate “Toy box”.
  • You have a sustained interest in the underlying subject matter.
  • You prefer realism, clarity, good AI and UI elegance to flashes, bangs, and booms. The simulator places you in a virtual CIC of sorts, and you just have to accept that.
  • You really enjoyed any version of Harpoon.

Command ANO will likely not appeal to you if:

  • You’re easily bored and just want something where you can “jump right in” without thinking too much. In CMANO, failing to plan is definitely planning to fail.
  • You want a 3D audio/visual experience to provide a “payoff” for all your hard work, with explosions and scenes of missiles slamming into frigates and such.
  • You’re not biting your nails as each SS-N-19 missile in your carefully-planned surprise strike gets taken out by that damn Arleigh Burke class DDG.
  • You have little or only passing interest in the underlying subject matter.

Paying the price

CMANO is definitely not cheap. But it’s important to put that price ($80) into some kind of perspective. $60 these days will get you the latest, greatest FPS, RTS or RPG. The question becomes, will you still be playing one of these premium-priced games in, say, 5 years? The Achilles heel of games which rely on visual impact or scripted storylines is that they fade severely with time.

Conversely, the games which have earned a permanent place on people’s hard drives (or SSDs of course) tend to place the least emphasis on fireworks. If you’re a wargamer, you would still very much enjoy even something positively ancient like the very first Harpoon (running under DOSbox). This is still a cracking good simulator and that hasn’t changed since it first came out in 1989-90. It’s still perfectly useable and if you ever thought it was fun – it still will be.

Seen in this light, Command ANO is, if you’re “into” the subject at all, an investment in something which you will quite likely still be enjoying for many years, as it doesn’t rely on fancy 3D graphics which, no matter how good they would look today, would seem horribly dated in just a few years.

The other, less charitable interpretation of the premium pricing is that the publishers probably understand that people who are “into” this sort of thing will be willing to pay a premium, and are likely to be both older and richer than the average teenage “gamr d00d”. This having been said, I believe that, overall, the game offers outstanding value, and still costs far less than the last edition of Conway’s Fighting Ships that I purchased.

Reviewer’s System Specs

Desktop

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 2600K Quad Core LGA1155 @ 4.8 GHz “Sandy Bridge”
  • Mobo: ASUS Maximus IV Extreme
  • RAM: 16gb Corsair DDR3
  • Video: NVidia GeForce GTX 670, 2gb DDR5
  • Power Supply: Antec HCG 650w
  • HDDs: 256gb SSD, 300gb 10,000rpm Velociraptor, 2 x 2gb WD 7200rpm
  • Case: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
  • OS: Windows 7 Ultimate Edition x64

Notebook

  • Clevo W230ST 13”
  • 1920×1080 IPS screen
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 4700m Quad Core 2.4 – 3.4 GHz “Haswell”
  • RAM: 16gb DDR3
  • Video: NVidia GeForce GTX 765m 2gb DDR5
  • HDDs: 128gb mSATA SSD, 750gb 7200rpm HDD
  • OS: Windows 7 Ultimate Edition x64

Gallery of Full Size Images

Game Info

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