by Chris “AVGWarhawk” Gossweiler, SUBSIM
Feb. 5, 2009
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!
The 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’ finger tips.
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 moment.
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.
The 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.
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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 engrossing engagements.
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.
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Developer/Publisher: Storm Eagle Studios
Additonal screenshots courtesy of CaptHawkeye, PeriscopeDepth, Zakalwe
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 a fleet.
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.