PLATFORM:Win95/98 only CD-ROM; 16MB RAM
released as a DOS game in 1993, Aces of the Deep quickly established itself
as my favorite subsim. AOD was upgraded and improved in 1995, released
as Command Aces of the Deep. It is intended as a historically accurate WWII
U-boat simulation, with very little left out. Where many sims have one foot
in the game category, Command Aces is pure sim. The three mission formats,
single, historical, or the challenging career mode are present. You can
start off at the outset of the war and you'll be assigned a Type II boat
with meager capabilities and range and only two forward tubes (six
torpedoes). But the escorts are none too intimidating at this point, so your
deficiencies are nicely balanced. From September 1939 until well into the
early forties you'll encounter many lone merchants--easy pickings! But in
perfect accordance with historical precepts, from 1943 on the going gets
tough and the convoys are well escorted by destroyers and corvettes with
radar. In May 1943 you will be besieged by radio messages from fellow
U-boats telling of attacks by aircraft and destroyers (Attacked by aircraft.
. . sinking. . . U-344), and you get the sense that now the hunters have
become the hunted.
graphics are fairly good, especially the sea motion. Large rolling swells
rock your boat. The enemy ships are well-rendered (see drawbacks below for
more), and can be picked out easily at night. The moon and sun rise and set
accurately, and you can play the moonlight to your advantage. German
torpedoes were fairly powerful and accurate (except a brief interlude early
in the war). Other nice touches abound. On board is a phonograph, as in Das
Boot, allowing you to treat the crew to a wide selection of standards,
including "Tipperary". The Aces of the Deep theme is a very rousing piece of
music of itself. A chart of the boat illustrates the condition of the vital
equipment. You can opt to have the crew speak to you in German or English,
and their inset photos look very authentic. One crew member is a bit
worrisome, demanding you surface the boat whenever the first damage occurs.
With the Command version of Aces, you have: control of
your deck gun; access to the Med (slipping past the British at Gibraltar is
tough!); you can obtain a Type XXI elecro-boat, available upon promotion;
and voice recognition. Supposedly you can set the program and issue most
orders verbally. It's a nice thought but I couldn't get it to work reliably.
As things began to get critical, my "Crash Dive!!" and "Set Course
3...4...6!" orders were met with a quizzical "What's that, Herr Kapitan?"
Usually the game would end right there by ramming or my wife demanding I
stop waking the baby with all my shouting. Thankfully you don't need to know
German to swim.
have the whole Atlantic, North Sea, and Gulf of Mexico to hunt. Once you
cross a convoy, the escorts are very alert. You can try to run in their
midst, a la Kretschmer, but these corvettes will come barreling through the
ranks after you. And as in real life, once they force you down, your Type
VII or Type IX pokes along at 4~6 knots. You'll take a real beating.
Occasionally in the career mode you'll be part of a wolf pack and some of
other U-boats will draw off some of the heat. In the
single mission you can specify a wolfpack and work this to your advantage.
And you'll get a surprise when at a certain point late in the war a plane
drops its bombs after your crash diving sub and your sound man reports the
high speed screws of a homing torpedo! If you are fortunate enough to be
awarded a Type XXI U-boat, you get a taste of what almost could have been.
The capabilities of the German's advanced submarine, built late in the war
and too late to become operational in large numbers, would have staggered
any hunter/killer group. Most aspects of the game are historically faithful
and realistic, with the exception of the chart/map view. As in Silent
Hunter, you can get way too much information from the map, and using it to
plot attacks is a cheat that takes a lot of the work and risk out of the sim.
Use it sparingly, and be glad it's just a sim.
there's a drawback to Command Aces of the Deep, it is the distance
perspective allowed for the surface ships. The ships are rendered as tiny
silhouettes at all ranges except right in your face. From 2200 meters and
closer you can make out more details, but there's no substitute for the
chart view and the sim-assisted identification. When the ships get really
close, they become very "blocky" and parts of them disappear. The sounds --
enemy propellers, sonar, diesel and electric motors -- are of high quality,
though they are prone to cutting out and sometimes lapsing entirely. Not big
problems, especially considering the age of this sim. As mentioned, the
crews' voices are rendered quite well, in American with German accents or in
German. Your boat will begin to creak and groan once your surpass 160~170
are slight when compared to the level of realism and atmosphere present in
Command Aces. Examples: As you cruise to your assigned patrol zone, from
time to time it is wise to slow to one-third and dive to periscope depth.
Occasionally you will be rewarded by picking up the sounds of a distant
convoy that U-boat command is unaware of. Another example is the intensity
and visual realism of enemy shelling. If you attack on the surface, an enemy
corvette will try to close the range and fire its guns. The shells can be
clearly seen arcing their way to your boat. The misses will send up powerful
steeples of water and spray (much better than, say, Fighting Steel). Time to
go deep, eh, Herr Kapitan? Surface near a battlegroup and the skies are
filled with bombastic display of gunnery and you're the target. Aces makes
fighting fierce. The enemy AI is awesome at 100% realism. Take too much
damage and the game becomes a struggle to stay above crush depth. It'll take
every trick you've ever read about to survive.
CAOD has a very good manual and instructions. It's
obvious by the amount of attention to historical detail that this sim was a
labor of love. Other features are included that set this program apart from
every other subsim I've played:
Vehicle Preview -- computer rendered
images and stats of all vessels.
U-boat history -- a comprehensive history
of the U-boat wars including videos.
Maps -- Atlantic sinkings are marked,
along with significant battles.
Interviews -- several U-boat commanders,
including Otto Kretschmer, are featured in video.
Photo tour -- inside and out, pictures
detailing a Type VII U-boat.
Aces of the Deep was the first really good submarine simulation I ever came
across. It forced a paradigm shift of my ratings of all previous subsims.
CAOD was leagues ahead of the competition at the time of its release, holds
its ground years later, and is a shining example of a subsim done right. It
is one of the few sims whose rating hasn't slipped as newer and better sims
have been created. SSI is working on a new version (Silent Hunter II) that
promises to allow modem/network play and enable players to command
destroyers and escorts as well. But until that day, I'll be prowling the
North Atlantic on the bridge of my Type IX in Command Aces of the Deep,
the best of all U-boat sims.
|Game play||Repeat Play||Program stability||Multi- play |
|BONUS: +5: CD-ROM Historical archive;
of the Deep runing on Win 10
Aces of the Deep Tactics &
Aces of the Deep
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