second chance games

Search This Website of delight

Showing posts with label Command Modern Air/Naval Combat. Show all posts

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (CMANO) was released a full six years ago, and has since received endless patches and updates, as we...

Command: Modern Operations Command: Modern Operations

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Command Modern Air/Naval Combat

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (CMANO) was released a full six years ago, and has since received endless patches and updates, as well as several DLC campaigns and stand alone scenarios. If you are unfamiliar with the game, I'll briefly describe it, but my primary purpose today is to discuss the upgrade to Command: Modern Operations (CMO). In short, CMANO is perhaps the ultimate sandbox for air and naval combat simulation. 

Well, if you don't mind that simulation taking the form, visually, of a map covered in simple icons, lines, and rings. It's what all those simple icons, lines, and rings represent that makes the game so fascinating. Essentially, every single aircraft, ship, submarine, and related weapon that has existed since the end of WW2 on up to the present day, and even a bit into the future, is realistically represented within the game. It's all there in a Wikipedia style database that has more specs and stats than you can possibly ever need. Between the official and community made scenarios, there are somewhere north of 600 scenarios on offer, and a powerful editor that you can use to whip up something of your own design. These scenarios depict some hypothetical and utterly fictional situations, but many recreate historical battles and events with a high level of detail. 

Although the graphics might be simple at a glance, the simulation is doing some serious work behind the scenes. Weapons only function within their real design parameters, aircraft burn fuel at variable rates depending on their speed and payload, the thermal layer and other underwater phenomenon are fully taken into account, and, most importantly of all, real world tactics and strategies are the order of the day. 

While some scenarios are straight forward affairs, many depict actions taking place over multiple days or across hundreds of miles, where you will need to take into consideration things like patrols, reconnaissance, SEAD strikes, mid-air refueling, changes in day/night, and the rotation of aircraft back to base for rearming and refueling. Many of the nitty-gritty details can be handled by the AI automatically; you just create missions and then assign units to them. However, if you really want to micromanage things, you can go in and manually direct the firing of individual weapons at specific targets. 

For some missions, like attacking particular buildings in an enemy base, you'll want to get in there and assign targets yourself. For other needs, like flying a CAP around the fleet, simply creating an appropriate mission and assigning the correct squadron to it will be all you need to do. How will you know which squadron is the correct squadron? Well, if you don't know your F-22's from your F-18's, or even if you do, you'll want to poke around in the in-game wiki a bit. Keeping Google open in the background might be a good idea as well. Needless to say, this is a game that will require some effort on the part of the player, but will reward you with an incredibly deep and varied experience.

Now, after much anticipation, the next iteration of the epic combat simulator is here in the form of Command: Modern Operations. This new version of the game completely replaces CMANO, but also comes with a price tag. This will lead many out there to wonder, is this worth the upgrade price? Alternatively, if you never pulled the trigger on the older version, is now the time to jump in? Read on to see what is new and improved. 

First up I will direct you to the official CMANO->CMO FAQ, which should answer a few questions you might have. Essentially, if you already own CMANO, you can upgrade to CMO for $40 for a limited time. While that is a considerable fee for an engine upgrade, one must consider that CMANO received non-stop updates for the past 6 years, and we can expect that same level of support for CMO going forward. Any extra content you might have purchased transfers over to CMO, and of course the absolutely massive trove of community built scenarios will still work in CMO. Just to give you an idea of how dedicated the fans are, and how easy the mission editor is to use, I'll point out that there are 476 scenarios in the official community pack, and that number steadily grows. Good luck ever playing all of them! 

I was a bit disappointed to see that the previously stand-alone campaigns, like Northern Fury, will no longer be available to purchase as separate mini-versions of the game, but only as DLC within CMO. I thought that was a great way to let people dip their toes into the Command world.  New players will now have to bite the bullet and drop $80 on the full game, or wait it out for a sale. 

Now, what exactly are you getting if you do decide to upgrade to CMO? Let's run down the list of new features, and I'll comment on my experiences with them since getting my hands on the game. 

New User Interface

CMANO veterans will immediately notice that the new UI is much easier on the eyes than that in the original game. The very generic and plain interface of the original has been restyled with a nice dark theme, some softer edges, and a splash of color. A new row of buttons along the top give you quick access to some of the most common commands and windows that you will need on a regular basis. Overall, the controls are the same as before, and you'll still be digging through menus at times, but this should ease new players into the game a bit better and give veterans a little quality of life upgrade. The bottom line is, the game now looks much more like a "game" and less like a piece of generic Windows software. For some players, this won't matter at all, but I very much liked the changes.

Besides looking different the UI now features a lot of new functionality. A much more useful message log now sorts messages into different categories to help you find what you are looking for, and hovering over an entry, for example "Enemy fighter X destroyed by missile Y" will now cause a text bubble to pop up on the map, showing exactly where that event occurred. Very useful in the case where you missed something important during a chaotic battle. Another nice update is that the pictures of various units and weapons are now automatically downloaded into the database as you pull them up. Previously, you had to go to the developer website and manually download a giant folder of images to stick in your game files. This doesn't really change the gameplay at all, but is certainly a better solution. Half the fun of the game is that you have access to ALL the toys from the past 70 years of warfare, you're gonna want to at least get a picture of what they look like. 

Tacview 3D Integration

Speaking of visuals, one major change found in CMO is that you can now integrate it with Tacview 3D Advanced to get a simple 3D view of what's happening on the battlefield. It's important to note that this is a separate software purchase. You do get a nice discount if you own CMO, but it's still almost the price of a AAA release. On the upside, the software can also be used with flight simulators like DCS World, so you could get some additional utility out of it if you are so inclined. A luxury item no doubt, but a very cool feature. For all of its complexity and depth, CMO still involves a lot of staring at simple icons and lines on a map. Having an extra window showing the action in 3D should bring things to life in a more dynamic way. I do not own the software, so I can't give it a review, but here's a shot of what it adds to the game.

New Map Layers

Continuing with the visual improvements, the game now includes some additional map layers that you can switch on and off as you please. Just as in CMANO, most of the time you will be looking at a Google Earth style globe that you can freely move around and zoom to wherever you desire. CMO adds a new higher resolution map where you can see right down to individual streets and groups of buildings. Unfortunately, I often had trouble getting the map to load as fast as one might hope for. Often, one "chunk" of the map would load in higher resolution, and then the areas around that chunk would stubbornly refuse to load in for a long time. I don't know if this was just due to my hard drive not being up to snuff, or an issue with the game engine. In the screenshot below, you can simultaneously see both the gorgeous high-res layer of the map, and imagine the frustration of sitting there waiting for the rest of it to load in. 

I also experienced another visual oddity where bits of two different layers seemed to bleed into each other at times. Hopefully a little more polish can resolve these issues. CMO also adds a few other layers that you can use if you prefer. One of these takes away the satellite imagery and replaces it with a cleaner, utilitarian style of map. I liked playing with this one on while operating in urban areas.

Improvements to Ground Forces

Besides looking nicer, the higher resolution terrain visuals also connect with improvements to the actual gameplay. The terrain on the ground is now represented in a far more detailed manner. Hovering your mouse around the map will display information which now includes a specific description of the terrain. Cropland, plains, mountains, jungles, urban areas, forests, swamps, and many more types of terrain are now modeled in the engine. While the description and the visual representation were not always exactly 1:1, it was shockingly close for a map modeling the entire world. 

This is important because a long requested update to one area of the game has arrived: ground operations. Of course, given the title of "Modern Air/Naval Operations," the inclusion of detailed ground combat was never promised, but could only make the game that much more interesting. While mobile ground units are still not a central part of the game, and most scenarios don't have any at all, future scenario makers will now be able to create much more interesting conflicts using them. All of that new terrain information comes into play, along with detailed line-of-sight data. Before, it didn't really matter if you drove some tanks through a swamp, or hid your infantry in dense jungle. Now it matters a great deal. While the developers have made it very clear that they aren't aiming to reach the fidelity of something like Armored Brigade or Command Ops, this is still a pretty nice leap forward.

Check out this Developer Diary for more details on the changes to Ground Ops

Under The Hood

Besides the updates to the UI and visuals, the engine itself has received a massive upgrade in terms of performance and modeling. Though I don't have any hard data, I can say with confidence that the game now runs along more smoothly than ever before, which is especially noticeable in the more complex scenarios. More specific updates include improvements to the aircraft dogfighting AI, the flight model, and even the modeling of G-Force effects on air crews. Other improvements to air combat include radar frequency agility and explicit doppler-notching. Do I know what these terms mean? Absolutely not. But they are now part of the simulation. A little research reveals that these are some advanced air combat maneuvers, the inclusion of which show just how insanely detailed and researched this game really is.

Quick Battle Generator

This is a great idea, but the first iteration is a bit anemic. The idea is to allow the player to jump right into some action, without the context of a larger scenario to worry about. Air, sea, and underwater engagements can all be created in just a few clicks. Unfortunately, the options and results are very limited. Basically, no matter what settings you pick, it's just a small handful of roughly equivalent units run smack into each other and you see who wins. Spending a short time learning how to use the editor would allow you to whip up far more interesting engagements in just a few minutes. I appreciate the thought here, but I hope this feature will be updated to, perhaps, generate simple scenarios like attacking an enemy base with several squadrons of fighters.

Other Changes

There are just so many minor changes and updates to the game that I don't want to drone on describing every single one, so I'll just rattle off a few more here. If you want the exhaustive list of changes, just follow this link to the developer's page and start scrolling. There is a lot to read about!

Expanded Tutorials - Self explanatory, but certainly this game needs all the tutorials it can get. Once you know how to create missions and get units into action, the game really isn't that hard to control, but getting over that initial hump can be intimidating.

Chains of War Features - The DLC campaign "Chains of War" had several features not included in the base game (loading/unloading cargo and amphibious forces, electronic/cyberwarfare, detailed aircraft damage modeling, and some high tech toys). All of that is now baked into the base game, and can be used by anyone for their own scenarios.

Realistic Submarine Communications - A cool new optional setting. Just as in real life, submarines that go deep underwater can no longer be easily tracked or communicated with, even by allied units. You won't even be able to see their exact location on the map, so you better think twice before assigning a mission. Just as in the real world, an ELF signal can be sent to request they come back to the surface to re-establish communications.

This covers many of the changes found in CMO, but definitely not everything. I'm probably underselling a lot of the changes in how the simulation is modeled, since I'm not enough of expert on what is being depicted to tell you just how accurately things were being modeled to begin with. What I can tell you, is that CMO takes what was already a great system, and makes it several notches better. There is simply nothing else out there like it. It's game where you can convincingly simulate a naval battle from 1950, an air-to-air combat in 1967, and a submarine duel in 1985 all within one unified system.

If you already own CMANO and didn't care for it, well, CMO probably won't change your opinion. It's a hefty update, but it doesn't fundamentally change the game in any way. If you loved CMANO and play it all the time, it's a must have. All new updates and content going forward will require CMO, and based on the past six years, we can expect there to be plenty more of both. If you never took the plunge but were curious, the release of CMO is a great time to jump in. Yes, the price is significant, but you will get a one of a kind experience with limitless content. 

- Joe Beard

Command Modern Operations is available directly from Matrix Games and on Steam.

Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came ou...

Command: Desert Storm Command: Desert Storm

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Command Modern Air/Naval Combat

Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came out back in 2013.(How the time flies!). Like other such mission packs for CMANO, Desert Storm can either be purchased as an addition to your CMANO library, or can stand on its own if you have not yet purchased the core game. I'll go ahead and say right now, this is not the best way to dip your toe in the CMANO waters if you have not yet tried the system. Desert Storm is going to appeal far more to the seasoned player by offering an interesting set of 15 large scenarios. If you aren't familiar at all with CMANO, you might want to start with my review of Shifting Sands, one of the previous DLC mission packs, where I wrote about the core game quite a bit. Or just hop on over to YouTube and find some gameplay videos. You'll quickly see the kind of gameplay you're getting here.

What makes the Persian Gulf War interesting enough to justify an entire DLC pack? The original CMANO release even includes a pretty substantial Gulf War scenario, why add on a whole pack of them? I wasn't so sure myself until read through the scenario mission briefings, which provide some great insight into all the different aspects of the campaign. While we can all look back and remember the end of the story, how Western air power absolutely crushed the Iraqi military, at the time no one was quite so sure how it would turn out. The United States had not conducted a military operation anywhere near this scale since Vietnam. The Iraqi's had Soviet aircraft and tanks that were aging but still dangerous, and an army full of veterans from the Iran-Iraq War. Would all the advanced technology of the United States prove itself useful or a waste of money? Well, we know the answer to that. The Gulf War brought conventional warfare into a new age. One in which control of the skies meant complete control of the battlefield. Laser guided bombs dropped from stealth bombers and fighter jets could easily knock out one Iraqi tank after another. Bunker busting bombs could crack open hardened aircraft hangers thought to be impregnable. Iraq's vast network of SAM sites and aircraft radars could be picked apart by highly coordinated coalition aircraft. The entire paradigm of conventional warfare has been changed ever since. Command: Desert Storm gives you a chance to take on the role of mission planner and recreate (well, try your best anyway) the massive success that was achieved.

There are 14 Gulf War scenarios here, most historical, with a few hypotheticals thrown in. There is also a hypothetical 2019 Israel vs Iran scenario thrown in there to offer buyers a little of something different to round out the package. Players may be disappointed to learn that there is not a monster scenario of the entire conflict, nor is this a dynamic campaign or a chronological series of scenarios telling a narrative. These scenarios instead offer a smaller chunks of the conflict, highlighting one interesting aspect of the war in each case. There is a mission for hunting down the SCUD launchers, another for targeting the suspected chemical weapons. There is a mission recreating the "Highway of Death" stage of the battle in which you have control over at least 200 aircraft, I couldn't even count them all. While most of the missions are almost exclusively air campaigns (with a carrier group or two around as a base of operations), there is one mission where you are maneuvering some naval assets around the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting just how strategic that bit of geography can be for all involved and another that features the naval battle of Bubiyan. There's are no ground battles, as you might have hoped from the theater depicted. A few divisions make an appearance, but if you're doing your job right they'll never get a chance to shoot anything.

I found the very first scenario especially interesting in its choice of topic. That is the initial shifting of assets from other places to the Gulf. You might be thinking, how hard could it be to move some units around? Well, it ends up being quite the logistical dance when you are trying to rapidly move dozens of aircraft from all over the globe, even from the US itself, to the Middle East, while the situation on the ground continues to develop. Tankers need to be stationed along the routes, and vulnerable aircraft still need escorts since you don't know when hostilities might break out. The whole time while playing I was imagining how this played out in real life. 

I was also a fan of how some of the hypothetical scenarios can bring Iran into the war. You don't know exactly when or if they will strike, and due to the geography of the gulf you can't avoid getting uncomfortably close to their shores. There are also civilian and Soviet units out there, so you can't just lash out at every sensor contact. It makes for some tense moments, as this uncertainty creates a fog of war even in the age of long range radar. 

Taken all together, the scenarios available here give you a picture of each stage of the war roughly in sequence. The rapid logistical buildup, the first night of bombings, the scramble to take out SCUD launchers and chemical weapons, and the large scale air campaigns which decisively won the war for the coalition. The hypothetical scenarios let you take a stab at many of the what-ifs and offer a greater challenge than the strictly historical pieces.

The Marines are on the way, but will there be anything for them to fight when they get there?

There's not much more to say that wouldn't involve simply describing each of the scenarios. This is a DLC pack that gives you exactly what it says on the box. 15 new scenarios, of high quality, with a mix of hypothetical and historical events.  If you are looking to take a deep dive into the Persian Gulf War, this is the pack for you. $20 will get you many hours of gameplay, as all of the missions are on the bigger, more complex end of the spectrum, some especially so. As I mentioned before, newbies are probably better off grabbing the Northern Inferno pack if they are looking for a taste of what CMANO can offer. For veteran CMANO players just itching for some new scenarios to test their skills on, this is an easy recommendation.

- Joe Beard

Command: Desert Storm is available either directly from Matrix Games/Slitherine or on Steam.

We all know CMANO is a title for the more serious wargamer, with very minimal graphics that leave much to the imagination, and gameplay...

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Goes Pro Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Goes Pro

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Command Modern Air/Naval Combat

We all know CMANO is a title for the more serious wargamer, with very minimal graphics that leave much to the imagination, and gameplay that assumes the player has at least a couple textbooks on modern air and naval tactics up on the bookshelf, and perhaps took some online classes at their local military academy. You think I'm kidding, but the big boys at the Pentagon and elsewhere are very much interested in using CMANO for their own wargaming. Specifically, a special "Professional Edition" of the game developed to meet the needs of military and government entities. (And no, you can't get your merely amateur wargamer hands on it).

See the full press release below:

The game is getting serious: How a commercial video game becomes a military asset.
Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (CMANO) is a serious videogame, very much in the Matrix Games genre and was released for public sale in 2013. CMANO gives the Wargamer full tactical and operational level control of a conflict simulation, from a single 1-vs-1 dogfight, or naval skirmish all the way to theatre and even strategic-scale warfare. CMANO, developed by our Developer partner WarfareSims, was immediately recognised by our gaming community as a unique title and repeatedly voted Wargame of the Year (WOTY).
Since release, multiple DLC and expansion sets have been added and the very popular, yet controversial, Command LIVE series, based around evolving political and military events, has been a major success. Other examples of the realism of the series are Chains of War a battle set that explores conflict between China, the USA and their respective allies, taking place the near future.
The Command LIVE series of DLC’s, places you as Commander in the midst of a range of topical and newsworthy incidents, for example “DON OF A NEW ERA” kicks off when a violent demonstration against the Moldovan Government explodes, with the death of 27 protesters and the city under martial law.  The EU has declared support for the Moldovan Government, but Russia has come out vehemently in support of the ethnic Russian population. In “YOU BREXIT, YOU FIX IT!” It’s 23 August 2016, Europe is reeling politically and economically from the effects of the UK deciding to leave the European Union. Both the £Pound and the €Euro are near collapse. The Russian Federation exploits the situation and moves against the Baltic States.
Matrix has created a range of “CNN-like” news reports depicting the situations that players are confronted with in these highly realistic scenarios.

In 2015 Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work issued a startling directive:  “I am concerned that the Department’s ability to test concepts, capabilities, and plans using simulation and other techniques—otherwise known as wargaming—has atrophied”. Not surprisingly, Matrix took a call from the Pentagon and a new era began. The Military had recognised the value of Commercial off the Shelf Software (COTS). The cost savings and the attention to detail provided by around 1 million dedicated users, many of them serving or retired military personnel, play a major part in the testing and quality of the Command simulation.
The decision was not difficult and a team of military experts was dispatched to Epsom to evaluate Command, this resulted in further collaboration and the CMANO team were invited to visit the Pentagon.
Ongoing Validation and Verification of the Simulation has established its suitability for Professional use and this has resulted in a specialist Division of the Slitherine Group, Matrix Games LLC, being established to manage Military contracts.
The Command Professional Edition of the software has expanded significantly to specifically manage experimentation & statistical analysis, the creation and testing of new and experimental platforms & systems and Warfighter training, much of which is operated within a classified environment.

A number of prominent Government Agencies and military contractors are also using Command PE and last week Lockheed Martin’s Centre for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia hosted a week long training session for key members from Government Agencies, specialist Contractors and representatives from various Militaries, gathered from around the globe to participate in a comprehensive week long training event.
The latest evolution and development of Command PE, whose advanced features are not available in the commercial edition, has rapidly progressed to suit the needs of the Military and substantial new upgrades were announced at the event. Command PE is now spearheading this innovative new business venture that has become an integral part of the physics-based research and experimentation of the defense sector.

"Turning a commercial off the shelf (COTS) video game into professional software is not a simple task", said JD McNeil, Chairman of the Slitherine Group. "We have spent the last three years collaborating with and accommodating the very specific needs of our Military clients. We are continually modifying and improving the software to fit their very specific needs. It's a fundamentally different development environment that requires a diverse approach to the range of issues to be considered. The Slitherine Group and its development partner WarfareSims are investing significant resources, developing what has become an integral part of our future growth".

- Joe Beard

Command: Shifting Sands is the latest stand alone expansion for the massively detailed naval and combat simulator that is Command: Moder...

Command: Shifting Sands Command: Shifting Sands

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Command Modern Air/Naval Combat

Command: Shifting Sands is the latest stand alone expansion for the massively detailed naval and combat simulator that is Command: Modern Air/Naval Combat (CMANO). Developed by Warfare Sims and published by Matrix/Slitherine, CMANO is a powerful simulator that lets the player explore detailed scenarios depicting air and naval combat of every stripe since WW2 to the present and even a little beyond. Just about every ship, aircraft and submarine that has ever been built is in the game database. The primary drawback is that CMANO has a hefty price tag. There also isn't a demo, so to give curious players a chance to get their hands on the gameplay without too much of a hit to the wallet, the developers have put out several stand alone campaigns. The other two, Chains of War and Northern Inferno, featured hypothetical conflicts. Shifting Sands, on the other hand, features the numerous historical battles between Israel and its not so friendly neighbors over the course of several decades. While you won't have access to the full CMANO database, you do get to play with toys from a few different technological time periods. In several cases these scenarios depict the historical first use of some new weapon or tactic.

As mentioned, Command is a real-time simulation of air and naval combat, calculating for just about every variable you could imagine. Real time as in the game literally ticks by one real second at a time unless you speed it up. Direct ground combat is depicted to a much lesser degree, though there is no shortage of targets on the ground and things like anti-aircraft units shooting back at you. The game sacrifices a great deal in one area to make its extremely broad scope possible, the graphics. This is a game involving a lot of map staring, as simple icons representing units move around and fire little dots at each other. What the game lacks in cinematic visuals it more than makes up for with some serious number crunching going on under the hood. This game includes more details than I could possibly discuss here, but just to name a few: terrain, weather over a ground target, the temperature of the water at various depths, airspeed and weight with regards to fuel consumption, realistic time needed to rearm and refuel aircraft, and the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow all play a factor. Okay, maybe not that last one. The key point being that the developers have attempted to include just about every significant factor involved in the operations depicted. You very well may need to do some homework to fully understand what is happening in the game. Fortunately, Command makes it easy to at least get started.

Shifting Sands comes with several training scenarios, and a newbie player will be wise to go through them all more than once while keeping the manual open in another window. This will get you familiar with the core mechanics, however it won't teach you much about how to conduct a large scale complex operation on your own. There are a few great sets of videos on YouTube which can help in that regard. This is the mark of a truly great wargame: the game gives you all the tools you need to simulate a realistic battle scenario, but requires you to actually develop and employ realistic tactics to succeed. Simply launching every aircraft you have and throwing them at the enemy won't get you very far at all. You will need to analyze the situation and deploy your units with a degree of precision if you want to make a good showing. Learning all of these tactics and stratagems is part of the experience of playing the game, and shouldn't scare anyone away. I think most people buying a game like this do want to learn about those sorts of things, and the game will reward you for it.

The mechanics of the game might look overwhelming at first, but really you can get started without delving too deeply into the dozens of options and functions available. As the commander, your job isn't to micromanage every unit and weapon. The AI can do a decent enough job as long as you give it the right orders. This is done simply by choosing an area or target for a mission and then assigning units to it. There are default mission types set up for just about everything you might need, from anti-submarine warfare to air superiority ops. Within each mission, you can tweak all the finer points. Do you want aircraft to launch in flights of two or three aircraft each? Do you want your ships to investigate and potentially engage targets out side of their designated patrol zone or should they stay put? You can also set the rules of engagement and behavior for the AI at the unit and mission level, and also general orders for your entire side. These settings tell the AI how to act in various situations so that you don't have to manually intervene constantly. 

Once you have a grip on the basics, the game lets you go much deeper. For example, a ground strike mission can be built by the player selecting exactly which aircraft in a group will target which buildings and with what weapons down to the exact number of bombs dropped. You can also plot a course and set altitude and speed. Taking control like this will let you pull off much fancier maneuvers and likely see better success in the more complex scenarios. And Shifting Sands will give you more than a few complex scenarios to deal with. 

The campaign starts off with a little taste of naval action during the Suez Canal Crisis and then a solid air combat scenario that requires you to perform recon, attack, defense, and air superiority missions all at once but is still manageable. After that, it's off to the races with scenarios such as Operation Focus, the opening move of the Six Day War in which the Israelis historically destroyed almost the entire Egyptian air force. The naval scenarios tend to be much less complex, due to the smaller numbers of units involved, but are still made interesting because one major error could cost you the win. This is also an area of the world that has a ton of civilian shipping, making it tricky to pick out foes until they are either dangerously close or already firing at you. That said, the aircraft focused missions are the star of the show here. While you can play through the campaign in chronological order, you can also just pick out the scenarios you are most interested in from the list. The only difference when playing the campaign is that you must reach a certain score threshold to unlock the next mission. This should serve as a good challenge for even experienced players, since simply coming out ahead in a scenario is not enough to hit that score. You will need to accomplish all or most of your objectives while avoiding taking too many casualties.

There are also a few interesting "what-if" scenarios that round out this pack. One gives you a chance, as the Israelis, to use nuclear weapons in a last ditch effort to hold the line. Another puts you in command of the US 6th Fleet on the day the USS Liberty was attacked by the Israeli military, and in this scenario the United States responds very harshly. These are great examples of what can be done with Command system. not only can it simulate events that did happen historically, it can be used explore all sorts of hypothetical scenarios that might have played out. Of course, to access the hundreds of community scenarios that have been made over the past few years, you'll need to buy the full version CMANO. I think Shifting Sands serves as a great entry point for those curious. It's also a decent buy for veteran commanders. They get 17 well made scenarios to add to their collection, and can continue to support the develop of the system overall.

So, if you are looking for a detailed air and naval combat simulator, and don't mind the minimal graphics and sound, you really can't do better than Command. The game has been continuously updated since its release about three years ago, and Shifting Sands benefits from all of those updates. This is a great way to try out the system and see if it's for you, without plonking down $80 or waiting for a big sale. Though if you like Shifting Sands, I highly recommend getting CMANO, it's a game that you could spend years tinkering with and learning new things from. There are so many community scenarios available that the average gamer would take a lifetime to play them all. Definitely some serious bang for your buck.

Matrix Store: Link Here
Developer Website:
Command: Shifting Sands is also available on Steam.

- Joe Beard

P.S. I had to borrow my screenshots for this review from the official page, since my normal means of capturing them didn't seem to agree with Command and came out rather useless. I had some really good ones too!