Salvo: A Quick Look
Review by Jim Cobb
May 15, 2005
Publisher: Shrapnel Games; Developer: Sprue & Sprue Games
Age of Sail II: Privateer’s Bounty was the last serious game of naval warfare under sail in recent memory. A real-time game, that game was a sailor’s dream. Salvo, developed by Sprue & Sprue Games and published by Shrapnel Games, attempts to be more of an admiral’s game. The product is single-player, turn-based and concentrates more on large fleet battles than one-on-one actions, although those are also included.
Salvo’s fine documentation begins with the caveat that the game is more for fun than authentic. Before serious gamers head for the exit, rest assured the product has plenty of details; wind, sea state, sail status, crew quality and ammunition are all there in a game featuring tacking, grappling, fires, repairs and crew allocation in actions from the 1600s to early 1800s with British, French, Spanish, US, and Dutch navies as well as pirates. The caveat may speak more to the interface. Instead of turning a wheel to steer and clicking on guns to fire, players click on arrows on the sea and action markers to fire. The game is very much driven by cursor tips and menus.
Graphics in the beta are nice, if not spectacular. Waves, flags and sails look natural and ships are nice although they lack the detail seen in the Age of Sail II series. Sounds seem rather bland but functional.
Single ships maneuver in a 3D view or a battle map. Each side fights for the wind advantage and to get that all-important first broadside. Ammunition types dictate the kind of damage inflicted. Ships can collide or grapple. Crew can be allocated to guns, sails, repair or boarding parties. The key to victory seems to be using the interface to maneuver well.
A close view shows two antagonists trying for the wind gage. Note the island to the right. In range, the two clash. Clicking on the yellow and black action marker fires the ship’s broadside. Make sure to allocate enough crewmen to boarding parties.
Despite the panache of single ship clashes, Salvo actually concentrates on fleet engagements. First, players create squadrons. These squadrons are then given orders for movement and combat while waypoints on the battle map expedite movement. Depending on the situation, ships follow squadron orders, can be instructed to act on their own initiative or can be controlled individually by the player seeking that Nelonesque movement. This method of handling a fleet is a significant departure from the lassoed groups in previous games and allows players much more control in handling numerous ships.
Squadrons and waypoints are created and controlled on the battle map. French squadrons await orders.
Salvo also breaks ground in using cutting out actions and meaningful use of land, shore batteries, reefs and shallows. Ship types include floating batteries, fire ships and bombards. Twenty-four scenario choices include campaigns and battles spanning 200 years.
Salvo’s interface and scope may not attract a general audience. Yet, naval gamers who want to explore new paths to old questions should keep an eye on this product at http://www.shrapnelgames.com/
Minimum System Requirements
Operation System: Windows 95/98/MX/XP or Higher
RAM 256 MB
Video SVGA (800 x 600 Resolution with 16 bit color)
Mouse 2 Button
Processor 800 MHZ PIII
Hard Drive 400+ MB Free
CD ROM 24X +
© 2005 SUBSIM Review