The Latest

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

One of the more dubious propositions in contemporary gaming is the reinvigoration of an adored classic. As the botched reboots of respected titles such as Yar’s Revenge, Golden Axe, and Syndicate have demonstrated, modernizing a retro gem often jettisons the game’s original appeal- leaving players with a disappointing, slipshod effort. The recent release of Carrier Command: Gaea Mission for the Xbox 360 manages to evade this particular pratfall, remaining stalwartly faithful to Realtime Game’s 1988 mix of vehicular combat and real-time strategy. However, the game’s unwelcoming disposition and distressing artificial intelligence means that the title is best suited for patient patrons of the tactics genre. Players expecting the polish and constant guidance common to other combat sims are likely to jump ship before the game hits its stride.

Thematically, Gaea Mission’s plotline has been given a minor reconceptualization, placing the forces of the United Earth Coalition and the Asia Pacific Alliance in an impassioned struggle upon a terraformed moon named Taurus. While the change in locale allows this update to deliver a variety of mountainous environments (unlike the flat, texture-less landmasses exhibited in the original game), the chief conflict remains- tasking players with conquering and controlling each atoll in an outstretched archipelago.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

Unquestionably, Gaea doesn’t make an advantageous first impression. Grafted onto the game’s core campaign is a clumsy FPS prologue which spans an unpardonable forty-five minute span. Soiled by robotic enemies which stand in place, floaty physics, and a sputtering framerate, Carrier Command’s preface feels like a subpar launch title, rather than a game arriving amidst the Xbox 360’s twilight era. Aesthetics aside, the segment does an inadequate job of directing the player. Although the section’s final moments task players with seizing an amphibious tank in an effort to commandeer a carrier, the title’s waypoint indicator direct players to the sea vessel instead of the smaller vehicle. As such, my ten minute hike was rewarded with an instant death as my player stepped ventured into waist-high water.

Mercifully, once players make their way to the carrier, Gaea Mission abandons its on-foot gameplay, save for a fleeting sequence later in the game. Here, Carrier Command reveals its true ambition- allowing players to direct the tide of battle from a strategic, overhead perspective or alternatively taking control of the carrier’s automated arsenal. Gradually, players take the helm of a growing fleet, directing up to four tank-like Walruses as well as a quartet of Mantas, which are the game’s air-based offensives.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

Taking control of the vehicles is a decidedly mixed bag. While the Mantra is impressively agile and enjoyable to fly, the Walrus is a bit more finicky. While having an independently controllable turret would seem to give the machine a decisive advantage in battle, simultaneously moving the gun isn’t centered is persistently awkward. Much like its namesake, the Walrus can be frustratingly indolent; tight turns at low speeds are particularly lumbering.

Likewise, maneuvering Carrier Command’s assets via the game’s map has its drawbacks. Walruses given specific pathways will occasionally renounce direction, traipsing around the circumference of an island or head right into fortified enemy strongholds. Occasionally, the ground-bond vehicles will get ensnared on scenery, perpetually locked in a pattern of brief advances and retreats.  While these AI impediments rarely propel players to a ‘game over’ scenario, they do require persistence vigilance.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

During those moments where the AI is operative, Gaea Mission reveals its ambitions. Taking over islands feels gratifyingly, thanks to the open-ended nature which permits multiple methods of conquest. The majority of locales have a heavy population of foes, delivering a subtle sensation of toppling an imposing adversary. Matching the game’s multiplicity of strategies is an intriguing number of upgrade opportunities for both your vehicles and carrier. As such, players can shape their fleet in a variety of ways, for example cultivating Manta’s into defensive, reconnaissance-oriented craft or into formidable offensive forces.

As Bohemia Interactive’s inaugural console effort, Carrier Command’s visuals are a bit underwhelming. The game’s collections of arctic tundra, sodden marshlands, and craggy mountains lack the rich environmental details found in games built expressively for console. While Gaea Mission’s refresh rate struggles during skirmishes, the engine does flaunt inspiring draw distances. Most remarkable is the title’s ability to shoehorn the control complexities of the PC version onto a 360 gamepad. Between the multiple control layouts and the use radial menus, the game’s input system is problem-free.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Review

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission’s attempt to satisfy both brain and button-bashing fingers is undeniably noble. However, in the game’s current state merits are drowned in a number of downsides- from an anemic opening segment to vexing ally AI. If these problems can be patched, then Gaea Mission certainly deserves your attention. Until then, this undertaking is best left to tolerant tacticians who can overlook a collection of quibbles.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

21 comments

  1. Honestly, I never heard of this game until you gave it your pick of the week.

    Any regrets, Des?

  2. I’ve been kind of curious about this game, but I think I’ll have to wait until Newegg blow ’em out for $15.

  3. I think this shows that there is no way we could get DayZ or ARMA 3 on our current gen of consoles. Next Gen, possibly.

  4. So you can switch between the two play styles freely? That’s kind of cool.

    But you’re right I don’t think any console game has pulled that off yet.

  5. One quick question: how hard is the game? I don’t mind some visual problems and AI confusion as long as I can complete the game without yelling profanities for 20 minutes straight.

  6. I haven’t believe no one’s made the Dis-Gaea joke yet.

    • Dis Gaea Mission ain’t the strategy game you’re looking for.

      At least not on console. I heard the PC version is running the Arma 3 engine and looks nice.

  7. How about this alternate title: Out to “C”/Sea?

    Good review as always, Deagle. Backed up all your complaints and didn’t write too much this time (NBA 2K13 I’m looking at you)

  8. So can you play the whole game as just an action game or RTS game?

    Or can you just switch when the game gets buggy?

  9. Sounds like it would have been cool if the FPS part was also tactical. Like XCOM.

    Still, CC sounds like another Alpha Protocol. Great idea held back by a few problems. Still, I loved AP once it was patched.

  10. Thanks for reminding me of Yar’s Revenge. The original game was a classic. The new one was a complete turd that got rid of everything cool about the original.

  11. I’ve been curious about Carrier Command since it was first previewed. Thanks for the review.

  12. I can’t believe they named a vehicle “walrus”. Does it move as slow as it sounds?

  13. I’ll probably be skipping this until it hits the bargain bins.

  14. First real mission after that HORRIBLE FPS bit. I need a Walrus to get to the command center to hack in.

    I direct it to go there, it tries, gets damaged then decides to venture through enemy territory. It get to the front games, the games put up a forcefield and it’s game over. Thanks, Bohemia.

    I get a second Walrus and hack in, but the AI isn’t really good enough to take out enemies. Both die and go up in flames. Bohemia, I hate you.

  15. I work at GS and someone came in looking for the game. I don’t even think out store got in a single copy.