Admiral: Sea Battles
Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $60
Genre: war
Release: September 1996
Developer: Meridian 93
Publisher: Megamedia
Phone: 408-428-9920
Requirements: 486DX2, 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 25 MB hard disk space, 2X CD ROM, sound card

History: This company has been producing the Megapak, Mega TriPak game bundles for several years. Now they are breaking into producing their own games instead of marketing other company's older and lesser titles. And they have three games on their plate right now.

Plot: Travel again to the time of square sail ships with four masts, when sailors went aloft to work the canvass. Your ship is sent out to rid the seas of the vermin that inhabit it, specifically pirates. Not only do you have to deal with the pirates themselves, but you must determine what nation is financing the piracy.

Turkish naval Commander Piri Teis devised a naval battle game to improve the capabilities of his commanding officers. If the Captains did not do well in the game, Piri felt they would not do well in the real battle. Take the role of one of Piri's captains and develop your skill in the great game of the sea.

Gameplay: The battles are not just on the seas. Build and Arm forts and ships to guard seaports and narrow straights. There is no fog of war, optional or otherwise. Any war game must have an optional fog of war feature to be accepted by the vast majority of wargamers. When you start the battle you know the full map of land and sea, including underwater obstructions and the exact location and strength of enemy forces.

Artificial intelligence: is not very challenging.

Ships to command: Eleven different sailing vessels can be purchased or built, from the swift Corvettes to the massively destructive triple-decker Battleships.

Combat: Fire on enemies with guns, board their ships, attack and destroy their ports and forts, and you may eventually reach your objectives. There is no distinction between grapeshot, canister, round shot, or my favorite chain, which is used to destroy the rigging and masts of an opposing ship. Line of sight seems to be ignored. Boarding is oversimplified without any tactical representation.

Missions: Planned missions can be attempted with different ships where capture or defense of land, fort, ports, forts, and homes are the objectives.

Interface: Overhead perspective that can be zoomed to get a close up view of ship to ship battles. Controls are on the right side of the screen which are icon based point and click in nature. Pop up menus perform many of the functions such as ship and fort construction. The interface is easy to use.

Graphics: Very nice menues and graphics, including the sounding killer whales.

Animation: As with most strategy games the animation is not remarkable.

Voice actors: None

Music score: Poor

Sound effects: Poor

Documentation: Poorly written, overly brief and confusing manual.

Multiplayer: Null modem, network, or internet play supported for multiple human players.

Journalists: Mark tells us that, "Admiral resists any temptation to model naval warfare whatsoever, preferring to masquerade as a pseudo-strategy game. Admiral, at its very best, sets sail as nothing more than an arcade game." Strong words, Mark.

References: Mark Dultz, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 9, February, 1997, pg. 84, 50%.