Chris "AVGWarhawk" Gossweiler
Feb. 5, 2009
guns for everyone
Jutland, a naval based WWI strategy simulation,
transports the player to the world of dreadnoughts battling for supremacy in
the high seas. This new release is the culmination of the previous Storm
Eagle Studio game titled 'Distant Guns'. In the Battle of Jutland, long
forgotten warships of an era gone by, HMS Agamemnon, HMS Dreadnought, Nassau
Class German battleships, Zeppelins, U-boats and many more instruments of
war, come to life thanks to Storm Eagle Studios. You command your ships,
armadas, campaigns and the oceans. Take your German or British task force to
sea protecting shipping lanes and the motherland. Through computer generated
battles, campaigns, mission builders and multiplayer functionality, Jutland
covers it all.
Upon loading the game, an update (patch) as immediately
detected and the game is automatically updated. One nice feature that keeps
this game up to date as most, if not all, PC games requires a patch or
update of some sort. This feature, however, saves the player from having to
search the web for possible updates or patches. Once completed, double click
of the Jutland icon and I was set to enter the world of the dreadnoughts!
splash screen interface is well laid out and immediate attention was paid to
the options for the game. The music is very fitting for the game and
provides a mood of divide and conquer. Jutland accommodates all screen
resolutions and worked very well with a 22 inch widescreen monitor. Other
options include a multitude of changes and tweaks are present to accommodate
lower end computers. Water color and clarity, reflections, animation and
many other options to change the player's environment are at the players'
Graphically, it is rendered quite well. I had not
started my first battle yet when reality set in that Storm Eagle Studios did
not leave one stone unturned for the numerous options for game play. I was
looking forward to the other options concerning ships. I set sail
immediately by clicking the computer generated battle. There are several
historical battles on the list (19 in all) to select from. A task force of
destroyers or battle it out with the big boys.
The option of size and length are offered in the
computer generated battles. I have found that the size indicates the size of
the ships. A selection of small will give you destroyers. Select large and
numerous battleships are generated for the player. I selected a large and
lengthy scenario so that I could accommodate myself to the various key
commands and more importantly, further tweaks on the environment that can be
done while in game.
More on game options, the players' ships can be
adjusted to react in water swell and actions. Ships do have a pronounced
movement to water and will lean opposite to the turn executed. Your ships
can be set to just about indestructible, accurately aimed guns and torpedoes
as well as faster repair times. Your foe will not know what hit them. It
does liven up your battle. The ability to change your environment and ship
options while in game is a wonderful feature because the adjustment is
viewable and immediate change is made. This aspect of the game was through
and through well thought out for player comfort and concerns for the users'
hardware playing the game smoothly.
The scenario I selected is loaded and I was in command
of one task force of dreadnoughts. Selecting the F1 key draws up the key
commands for the player. There are not many to get acquainted with as the
player can interact with an interface while in game. More on that in a
I found that there are several ways to work your camera
views, with the base view of free camera and the follow camera. Select a
ship and follow her course or pan back to see your task force steaming on
the course commanded. The learning curve can be steep for some but as I have
found, there will be less than a handful of keys that will be utilized as
these commands can be effected by the fly-out.
fly-out interface in game allows the player to set course for all in the
task force or each ship individually. Set your destroyer's course to
intercept your opponent as you position your dreadnoughts to broadside thus
exposing all cannons to your intended target. Command your ships to target
the lead vessel or free target any vessel that is closest. The player can
commence firing of the cannons and cease firing as well. All of these
commands can be done with the fly- out interface. I found that a good mix of
the fly-out and using the keyboard was the order of the day.
The cannons are not the only weapon at your command;
your task force has the ability to fire torpedoes. Once fired, you may
follow the bubble track of each torpedo with the free cam as it speeds to
the intended target. The torpedoes however are a crapshoot for accuracy,
much as it was during this period.
As you close to your engagement, white blooms of water
sprout up around your ships. The AI work very well and will react as ships
like the dreadnoughts would in a naval simulation. The AI controlled ships
will maneuver as such to present all the weapons each vessel has to offer. A
true to life naval engagement is simulated well in this respect. However,
one scenario started me at the stern of two dreadnoughts making 25kts were
my vessels could only muster about 23kts. These two dreadnoughts steamed out
of view and out of range of my guns much to my chagrin.
Since there is quite a bit of action happening, not
only with your task force but up to as many task forces you can create with
ships allotted, a small map of task force locations is provided. Press the M
key and this map will enlarge. From this map, ship's course can be changed
and each task force at your command is accessible. Click on a task force and
focus in on this part of your engagement, change course of your dreadnoughts
to encircle the enemy. There are many tactics the player can attempt so to
win the battle. All of your planning can be done from this one map interface
of the entire battle scene. If your attempt to sink the enemy is faltering,
change your course in retreat to lick your wounds and regroup.
Speaking of wounds, damage modeling is excellent! A
well placed shell will send parts of your ship flying, fires are started and
smoke pours from your deck! Your crew will attempt to repair and stop the
fires. Place your cursor over your crippled ship to get a status report.
Loss of cannon mounts, fire, ship listing, taking on water, loss of rudder
control and propulsion are just a few of the problems you will face. Be
aware that all of this seems to be a lot of planning and course changing,
when in fact it is not. Set your waypoints via the fly-out, set each ship to
target the leader with cannon and torpedoes. Sit back and watch your tactics
go to work. You will be in for an amazing surprise. Shell cam! That's right!
Select one of your ships to follow, sit back and allow the shell cam to
work. Follow your shell from cannon to target and see the damage inflicted
or find that the aim was not quite right as the shell splashes harmlessly
into the surrounding sea. Seeing and hearing shells hit home is modeled
quite well. Storm Eagle Studios even went as far as modeling in the
shockwave seen when large caliber shells find the mark.
Another feature as you watch your task forces plan its
work is the scrolling update of each ship. This feature describes hits and
damage sustained by your task force. Keep an eye on faltering ships and
direct them to change course for safer waters. As the commander, you need
your status reports to effectively bring your engagement to a successful
conclusion. Hands down, Storm Eagle Studios truly provides full command of
your armada. For strategy based games, this is a must.
The campaign aspect of Jutland has been done quite well
and is without a doubt the core of the game. U-boats and Zeppelins are at your
disposal to assist in scouting out the enemy if you prefer to command the
German task forces or divisions. There is a lot more to this game than
simply managing battleships. Plan your task forces and make them ready to
put to sea. Have the ships lay mines or sortie to the enemy's port. Beware,
there are coastal batteries and are quite accurate when they get a bead on
your ships. The player must be aware of fuel capacity and distance needing
to be covered. Return your ships to port for repairs and refuel.
When ships are commanded to be readied for sea, it can
be as little as one hour and up to 24 hours. Some accuracy of historical
nature is associated here. Select the F3 key to get the map overlay that
provides the shipping routes. The darker colored circles indicates heavy
traffic were as the lighter circles indicate lesser traffic. Select your
task force and making waypoints is very easy. Set course across the channel
and patrol off the enemy's coast, return for supplies and repair damage. The
beautiful part of the campaign consists of not just making waypoints and
patrol areas, shrewd use of one's instinct to patrol nets the player a
battle using your task forces and divisions.
When contact with the enemy is made, you are switched
from your planning and patrolling map to the battle itself. This is where
the true shine of this gem is found. Upwards of 60 ships for each side are
in the battle. Your practice and playing of the computer generated scenarios
come into play at this juncture. Use what you know and your strongest
vessels to send the enemy to the bottom. Steam all ahead to flank and cut
off your enemies. Use your ships wisely to sustain control of your waters
because the campaign is a long and grueling one.
After an exhausting battle, command the task force to
port for repair and refueling. Plan your next sortie for your forces. Replay
value is very high in campaign because enemy contact can be very different
from one new campaign to the next. Players will spend a majority of their
time in the campaign, much to see and do in controlling and conquering the
seas. AI in the campaign is consistent with the computer generated battles.
Over all, the AI plays well and does not react with indifference. If the AI
is simply overwhelmed, retreating is something AI will do. AI engages and
keeps formation, showing their broadside to allow all guns to fire make for
I haven't spent much time playing strategy based games.
It turns out that Storm Eagles Studio's Jutland was a good way to introduce
me to the genre; it's a gem of a strategy game. Jutland has captured my
interest and imagination because put simply, a lot of thought and effort
went into the game. This is evident with the numerous options, scenarios and
the brilliantly constructed campaign aspect of the game. Player interaction
and plausible outcomes are paramount in the development of the game. The
options for play and surroundings are numerous and allow quite a bit of
freedom for any player and computer to enjoy smooth enjoyable game.
Information is at the players' finger tips and much needed when commanding
several divisions at a time. Jutland is very imaginative and intuitive
strategic game that will satisfy not only the first time strategy game
player like me, but the battle hardened strategy game players.
Developer/Publisher: Storm Eagle Studios
Additonal screenshots courtesy of CaptHawkeye, PeriscopeDepth, Zakalwe
Feedback from the dev team: While we do agree with the reviewers
comments about Jutland being a strategy game, It is also a fleet simulator.
Jutland is not an individual ship simulator, like Silent Hunter, but it is
not just a strategy game either. If you are just playing a stand-alone
scenario in the game, there is no Strategy element to it. We feel we have
struck a fine balance between having to micro manage each ship and managing
Also, the Subsim reviewer preferred the blue/purple ocean settings that
make the game look like our first Generation game Distant Guns. Everyone
criticized us for it and we put a lot of effort into the current ocean
offering. Your ocean graphic settings are adjustable, the player can make
many changes in the water color and action as to their hearts desire. One of
the many great features of the game.