Carrier Command

Tagged: Game

Videogame (1988). Realtime Games (RG). Designed by Clare Edgeley, Ricardo Pinto, Ian Oliver, Graeme Bird. Platforms: Amiga, AtariST (1988); Amstrad, C64, DOS, Spectrum (1989); Mac (1990).

The original Carrier Command was both one of the first UK-developed Videogames to use real-time three-dimensional displays and an innovative fusion of Computer Wargame and action game which included many elements later seen in works of Real Time Strategy. The player takes control of a highly advanced carrier equipped with robotic aircraft and amphibious vehicles, which is engaged in a Near Future conflict with an almost identical opponent for control over a newly formed Archipelago and the energy extractable from its volcanoes (see Power Sources). Victory depends on systematically taking possession of the islands (by force if they are already occupied by the enemy), and constructing devices which will mine their resources, manufacture fuel and weapons, or act as defensive fortifications. The resulting industrial network provides the materiel players need to defend their territory and eventually either destroy the enemy's carrier or capture the entire archipelago. The result is an interesting game with a wide variety of tactical options, highly playable despite a somewhat complex interface, but one which is of little importance as a work of science fiction.

Interest in the game waned during the 1990s. However, in the 21st Century David Lagettie – an Australian computer entrepreneur who had created music for Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis (2001 Bohemia Interactive [BI], Win), a First Person Shooter which simulated military operations in the 1980s – acquired the rights to make a sequel to Carrier Command. Lagettie also provided the original concept behind P D Gilson's novel Gaea: Beyond the Son (2007), a largely routine tale of interstellar exploration and a resource crisis on Earth whose highly dubious science, occasionally melodramatic tone and unusual (for the written genre) focus on fatherhood may all be related to its genesis as the script for an unmade feature film. While the book was being written, Lagettie suggested tying it to the game by including details which would allow a remake of Carrier Command to be placed in the same universe; the published version ends with representatives of Earth's two contending factions (one democratic and Western, the other totalitarian and Eastern; see Yellow Peril) about to go to war on a Terraformed moon orbiting a Gas Giant in a distant solar system.

That reimagining of the original game was published as Carrier Command: Gaea Mission (2012 BI, Win, XB360) designed by Jaroslav Kašný, a work created by Bohemia Interactive, the Czech developer for whom Lagettie had written music for Operation Flashpoint. Gaea Mission is set on the habitable moon introduced at the end of Beyond the Son, where the player takes command of a ship resembling that in Carrier Command and fights for possession of a chain of islands against a similar enemy vessel. The gameplay is generally reminiscent of its prototype, with some minor changes and refinements (notably, interpolated sequences are played in the manner of a First Person Shooter), though several decades' worth of advances in computer hardware allowed the designers to make vast improvements in the visuals over those of the original. Unfortunately, the game's mechanics are sometimes presented in a confusing fashion, and – despite the involvement of Phil and Didi Gilson, who together make up the "P D" Gilson who wrote Beyond the Son – the dialogue is unusually poor and the plotting generally predictable. More fundamentally, technical problems with the game's implementation mean that it is often frustrating to play. In the final analysis, Gaea Mission's essential concept remains interesting, but the slipshod nature of its realization makes it a much inferior successor to the original Carrier Command than Rage Software's earlier Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising (2001).

Related works: Battle Command (1990 RG, Amiga, AtariST, DOS; 1991 Amstrad, C64, Spectrum) designed by Steven Caslin is an action game, vaguely associated with the original Carrier Command, in which the player controls a superpowered tank. Reviews were mixed. [NT]

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