Review: Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Needs Sea Legs
After Carrier Command: Gaea Mission becomes a past release rather than a current one, Bohemia Interactive needs to take a hard, hard look at their game and ask themselves two questions: Why did they graft such a worthless shooter onto an otherwise mostly decent strategy game? And why the hell did they make players play through that worthless shooter just to get to the tutorial necessary to even remotely understand the strategy game?
Both the creation of an awful first person shooter, and the requirement that players must slog through it, are bafflingly bad decisions that almost cripple their game. Despite this, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission manages to be a clever, though flawed strategy experience. Done on the cheap and showing it like a peepshow, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission oscillates between high and low quality. That it mostly ends up tepidly on team Good is a hopeful sign for future possible installments, but on its own, the game mostly struggles to justify its existence.
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission
Platform: Xbox 360, PC (reviewed)
Developer: Bohemia Interactive, Black Element Software
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive, Mastertronic
Released: Oct. 1, 2012
The return of a classic?
The original Carrier Command – released for PC back in the ancient mystical days of 1988 – is regarded among those who played it as a classic. With innovative use of filled-in vector graphics to create (for the time) cool 3D environments, multiple game modes and a clever combination of RTS and Vehicle sim gaming, it blew many minds back at the end of the Reagan era. The game concerned a near-future struggle over a tropical archipelago between ‘terrorists’ who control an advanced fleet of aircraft carriers, and nations reduced to using conventional carriers to stop them. Victory is achieved by defeating the enemy fleet or by gaining control of the individual islands.
Alas, the series has never had a sequel, nor did it spawn a genre of imitators. Instead it’s lived on in the memories of older gamers who remember a time when PCs and Console games were a lot like Portugal and Spain, which is to say, speaking languages that seem eerily similar to everyone else but mutually unintelligible to one another. But perhaps as the gulf between PC and console gamers is narrowed (in content if not in system specs), now is as good a time as any to attempt a revival.
In Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, the setting is updated from future war to future space war, as a fight over resources on Earth has spilled out into interstellar colonies. Players fight as part of the Unified Earth Coalition against the cartoonishly villainous Asian Pacific Alliance, for control of water on a moon called Taurus. Otherwise, the basic concept from the original game remains, with some interesting, and in many cases unfortunate twists.