I like ship combat. Whether it be on the water, in the air or the vacuum of space, something about vessels shooting each other appeals to me. Among these, water based combat has been a bit underrepresented in games. Being a good deal slower in comparison to less frictional arenas, games like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag showed everyone that there’s no shortage of fun to be had blasting one another on the high seas.
Then there’s Atlantic Fleet. A contemplative experience to say the least, I’ll get the few compliments I have for the game out of the way. While the attempted pseudo-realistic graphics are really not my cup of tea for a mobile game, they’re akin to a mid-range PS1 title, which is respectable for a mobile release. The roster of warships on display is also large and it seems that attention has been paid to little details like modeling and design with a fully rotating camera to see all the ship glory. Lastly, with single player battles and 2 full campaigns, there’s a lot of game to play if you’re particularly determined.
With that out of the way, I can firmly say this game is garbage. The most glaring issue is that the game is painfully boring. From the first level spent chasing down a defenseless Nazi merchant ship to full scale fleet combat, at no point during the considerably padded run time was I remotely entertained. Every inch gliding across the ocean, every sunk ship, every orange pellet fired failed to give me a modicum of enjoyment. Atlantic Fleet is turn-based, each turn consisting of a forced movement and forced weapon discharge of each ship in the fleet. While it’s somewhat puzzling you’re forced to do both to move forward, it’s within these two actions that comprise the “gameplay”. The movement controls are imprecise, so with every forced movement you just take your best guess at speed/heading and pray to Poseidon that you haven’t oriented yourself poorly.
However, any notion that maneuvering your ships matters at all evaporates (along with any notion of strategy), once you make the eventual discovery that the game flat out tells you the values your cannon sights need to score. I tried not using this feature, as it eliminates the need for human input, but hitting enemies without it is almost impossible and at the same time unrewarding. What the game ultimately devolves into is you and a computer aimlessly roving around, taking turns flinging peas at one another. There’s no definitive indication on how much damage each ship can dish out or take so the best reasonable tactic in all situations is blasting the closest enemy ship one at a time until it explodes.
These points illustrate a more pressing concern: that the gameplay is non-existent. It’s a mirage by which the developers tried to fool people into thinking this was a game of some sort. Accordingly, I will cease to refer to this as a game. Other components are equally barren. There’s no story at all, just numbered missions with increasing size and number of pea flickers on either team. This also diminishes any immersion you might have hoped to find, as you play as a disembodied warship spirit, whose only real purpose is to adjust number and click the button to initiate the pre-determined action. The controls are not only never explained, but hard to both figure out and use with precision even on my tablet, so I would think executing this program on a phone would be even more unpleasant. These shortcomings are compounded with the price point at a healthy ten bucks, which no doubt is to recoup the high production values on topical things like water rendering. Again the graphics are great, but without any gameplay to back them up, all they do is provide a pleasant beach setting for this turd to float in.
When all’s said and done, it’s uncertain what genre this belongs to other than over-priced. You end up paying for something, which while visually competent, is nothing more than a simulation minus the meaningful interaction. Technically speaking there is a lot of hours to be played. Unfortunately, calling a session with this piece of crap play is like calling a stint in Guantanamo a long vacation. If you’re looking for a program to digitally visualize your model WW2 ships that also launches tiny orange marbles at one another, you’re in luck grandpa. But for anyone whose definition of a game involves stimulation, or meaningful player input, jog on because this program isn’t about to conform to that ludicrous definition.
Looks decent and functions well enough but don’t be fooled; I had more fun at my last dentist appointment.