Would you like to experience commanding one of these vehicles?
If the answer is yes, then you'll be happy to know that Akella Games, the same publisher which sent us The Bad, the Ugly, and the Sober, is coming out with a new naval simulation game called PT Boats: Knights of the Sea, and it'll allow you to do just that (at least virtually).
The developers of the PT Boats: Knights of the Sea recently sent us a preview code which allowed us to try out the game for ourselves and see what it's all about.
We have to remind everyone that we were only able to play an early build of the game and that the final game will incorporate certain features not present in the copy we obtained.
Sink or Swim
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is divided into campaigns which are further subdivided into missions. These missions range from the typical "sink the convoy" tasks that PT Boats are known for, as well as scouting and escort missions.
The convoy attack missions generally involved a lot of shooting and proper naval tactics. Just the way this blogger likes his sim games.
We noticed that the escorts of the convoys seemed to know exactly what they were doing and were quick to react to the biggest threats presented to them.
The scouting and escort missions, on the other hand, usually involve a lot of planning and proper unit movement in order to pull off a successful mission. In some cases, this blogger even had to place a "wall" of boats in front of the convoys to prevent them from being hit by torpedoes. Sure, we felt bad for the poor sailors, but the mission must be completed.
We were rather disappointed to find that night, landing, and iceberg missions were not in the preview copy. However, if these missions are as well-designed as the ones we were able to try, we are pretty confident that they should be a lot of fun.
Each mission allows players to control any of the ships (either in action mode or tactical map) under their command. This is pretty awesome for those who don't want to pilot the PT Boats but would rather man the bigger destroyers and cruisers. To give you better picture, here's a little trailer from Akella:
Hard off the starboard bow:
Before any would-be commander can start blowing up anything, he's got to learn the controls. While most simulations require players to slog through tons and tons of documentation (a fun task for the hardcore sim buff), this game's learning curve is only as complicated as a gamer wants it to be.
Fellow QJ.NET staffer, Ceasar S., tried out the game and pointed out that controlling the different ships in action mode elicits a rather arcade-like experience. However, he added that the game is still a relatively accurate simulation, with proper ship handling and correct arcs and angles of fire even with the simple controls.
This blogger, on the other hand, decided to tackle the PT Boats: Knights of the Sea by micro-managing every aspect of the game possible. A daunting, but rewarding task which required constant switching from the action mode to the game's overhead tactical map.
Overall, the controls of the game seem pretty solid. Some old school simulation fans will probably scoff at the simplified controls for the ships, though they will probably be too busy managing their fleet in tactical mode and calculating the right firing angles for their torpedoes to really pay it too much attention.
She looks beautiful captain:
The graphics of PT Boats: Knights of the Sea are pretty good as QJ.Net staff member Max F. pointed out. He said that the graphics, while not completely photo-realistic, are extremely detailed - an assessment that was shared by most of the staff.
While the water and weather effects were actually pretty good, the amount of details on the different boats really stole the show. Simulation buffs will find that every cannon and gun is lovingly rendered and that the seamen are actually running around the ship tending to their responsibilities like a good crew should.
We also enjoyed the little extras the developers slipped in such as getting to see the seamen who would fall off to the side when shot or the crew members who would jump into the ocean when the boat starts sinking. Yeah, a bit morbid of us to point it out, but hey, these kinds of details lend that much more reality to the game.
The developers made clear that they still plan on refining the graphics even more. It might be interesting to see what the developers still plan on adding to the game.
Man the bilges you deck apes:
In spite of everything the game does right, there are still has a couple of issues that have to be addressed. One problem we found was the inability to control or even direct the air support in the game. A shame considering the A.I. of the planes seems to always pick the most flak-infested skies to fly over.
In general, we found that the boats do what you tell them to do. Inputting attack commands however, is a bit problematic since the enemy boats on the tactical map are extremely tiny.
We also found that not being able to assign hotkeys to specific boats unit selection a bit more difficult (and tedious) than expected.
Finally, we noticed that the PT Boats themselves seem a bit overpowered at this point in the development cycle. While we know these ships certainly have enough firepower to take down the larger vessels, they seem to be really hard to take down even after taking a lot of hits.
Two torpedo hits confirmed, target is down:
At this point in the PT Boats: Knights of the Sea's development cycle, we can say that it is looking fundamentally sound. This means that the basic gameplay mechanics are all in order and that the framework is already in place for a solid game. A few more layers of polish and this title should be good to go.
On that note, it's not often that we encounter a game that can appeal to both hardcore simulation fans and more casual action gamers. We're happy to say the PT Boats: Knights of the Sea has the potential to do just that. We can't help but hope the developers will be able to pull it off in the final version of the game.