Graphics and Sound
Overall the graphics in the game are pretty good but not outstanding. Compared to many modern games that are currently in circulation, Jutland looks a couple of years out of date. I can also say that this really isn’t that big a deal.
The ship models in Jutland are top notch. The game renders the dreadnoughts and other ships in very detailed fidelity and the ships are really pretty to view. Each ship is rendered correctly right down to the lowliest light cruiser and destroyer. This reflects what had to be literally hundreds of hours of research on not only what the ships looked like in general, but also on finding ships drawings and probably blueprints and pouring over photos looking for the correct way to render the ships.
The smoke effects are somewhat realistic. Although like in Distant Guns, I honestly think they are somewhat underdone. They look a lot better than they did in Distant Guns but they are still too muted in my opinion. This was a period where ships were transitioning from coal powered to oil fired and in some instances ships had mixed oil and coal fired boilers. Some battleships, like the Queen Elizabeth class, were completely oil fired while others, like the older pre dreadnoughts and early dreadnought BBs were either completely coal fired or mixed. Many of the newer destroyers were oil fired but the cruisers were a mix as well. The problem is that the oil fired ships probably belch too much smoke in the game and the coal fired ships not enough, depending on the quality of the coal used. This is a nit pick and according to Jim Rose the reason the ships weren’t differentiated was simply because smoke effects took up almost 40% of the rendering engine as it was.
Miscellaneous Advanced Display Options
Water effects likewise are better than Distant Guns, but are still somewhat muted and show some limitations of the game. Let’s face some reality. This was the North Sea and not the Caribbean. That means there should be some serious storms to contend with. I haven’t found a truly rough sea yet. Jim Rose does insist that crappy weather is in the game, and there is some variation in the weather effects but I haven’t seen the water over the bow types of weather that I know is prevalent in the North Sea. Anyone that has seen the pictures of warships contending with the weather during WW2 can see some really nasty weather. While I have seen rougher seas, and you can adjust the sliders to make the seas calmer or choppier I still haven’t seen the nauseating level of waves that some sailors had to contend with. This is especially important in the campaign game when the seas may have made combat simply impossible. Overcast is present in the game, and effect the ability to spot ships and night is really hard on spotting distance, something that should be commended. Remember this period predated radar by at least 25 years and as such the Mark 1 eyeball was the best spotting tool available
Sky and ground effects are minimal, just like in Distant Guns. For land masses this isn’t a big deal since land is of minimal importance in the game. Sure there are naval ports but these are more abstract in the game and not of use beyond the big “heading-out” screen in the campaign mode. Likewise, while the game does use airships in the game, there is no way to manually operate the zeppelins that you use (you just direct them to go to a spot and they do it) so detailed clouds aren’t that important either. I do think that fog and poor weather should be better represented as far as their use in-game, but again, that has more to do with the gameplay itself and will be addressed later in this review.
Sound is cool in the game. Ships make some realistic sounds as they go by and it is somewhat fun listening to the rhythmic clanking and banging that was the norm of early 20th century ships. Shells passing overhead can be startling when you are zoomed in. I think the sounds of the main guns firing are a little muted, but I have never heard a 15-inch gun firing up close. Few people still alive have. It is enough to keep you interested, but the sound isn’t overwhelming. The music that goes along with the game is stirring but like most theme music in games, it becomes repetitive and thankfully can be turned off.
There could always be more graphic fidelity, even in the ship models, but you have to be careful when you start getting too critical with game graphics in this genre. This is a game that renders a lot of things at one time and has literally thousands of calculations going on simultaneously. That means that a graphic intensive game could bog down even the most powerful computer.
In the end, the graphics are “good enough” to give you the feeling of immersion in the gameplay, which ultimately is the most important goal of the visuals. While you won’t see crew walking the decks, and there isn’t the eye candy that some people would probably like, but if you compare it to other games of genre such as Dangerous Waters, then the game looks good. Better, actually.