Red Storm Rising

Title		Red Storm Rising
Game Type	Combat Sim
Company		MicroProse, 1990 Sid Meyer and Arnold Hendrick
Players		1
Compatibility	All
HD Installable	Yes
Submission      Seppo Typpö Profiled Reviewer

The sea bed is a ruthless place to fight a war. Ever since WWI, men have
commanded submarines which have actively participated in the action and
tried to change the course of war. Nowadays underwater combat is a much
more sterile thing than back then. The enemy that was spotted and tracked
via periscope is nowadays just blip on a computer screen. Simple torpedoes
have been replaced by missiles and remote controlled smart weapons which
can hunt their prey unaided. Like modern air combat, high technology plays
the key role when people kill each other in the deep. At least, this is
the picture that Red Storm Rising, MicroProse's attack submarine
simulation delivers.

Loosely based on the book by Tom Clancy, MicroProse originally released
this simulation to the Commodore C64. Amiga conversion added 64-colour
extra halfbrite graphics but changed very little of the original gameplay.
Designed by Sid 'Civilization' Meyer and Arnold 'Gunship' Hendrick the sim
was packed with features not seen in any other submarine simulation on the

The package
Red Storm Rising (RSR) comes with a 108 page manual, keyboard overlay and
two double density disks. The manual is the usual MicroProse quality epic
which contains all the necessary information to play this sim plus lots of
interesting details about modern submarine technology and warfare.

Being a serious simulation, just about every button on the keyboard  has
some function attached to it. Shift and Alt key combos are also required
to control the various aspects of the game. The keyboard overlay is
essential and anyone buying this game second hand should make sure this
comes with the package (as should the manual as it is used for copy

Gameplay: Overview
This simulation takes the player back to the time of the Cold War when
NATO and the Warsaw Pact were still dividing Europe. The player takes the
role of captain of a US Navy attack submarine. When starting a new game,
the player can either choose the sub from various models (ranging from old
bathtubs like SSN Permit to flashy Seawolfs) or get a commission (where
the boat is selected by computer). Seeing as this game is a product of
the Cold War era, the player cannot select a Russian sub.

The game is highly configurable with four difficulty levels and three
groups of scenarios which can be played over four time periods. Scenarios
include training missions, single battles and the campaign, which is a
full blown WWIII scenario (where the player's success has indirect
influence into the outcome of the war).

Gameplay: Stalk'em Up
Red Storm's view to modern sub warfare is nothing glamorous. No more of
the 'up periscope, down periscope' style bravery seen in old movies (and
in the other MicroProse sub simulations, the Silent Service series).
Modern underwater war is fought with sensors, sonar and robot torpedoes.
Skillful captains can attack the enemy from a distance and use remote
control (wire) to guide the torpedo to the target while remaining
undetected. Occasionally (especially when ambushed by an enemy sub) the
fight changes into a desperate duel with the enemy submarines where the
player tries to evade the enemy torpedoes while trying to get a firing
solution for his own weapons.

Learning to use both offensive and evasive tactics is the key to success
in this simulation. Most of the game time is used trying to acquire sonar
and environment information from various displays. As more and more
information is gathered it is up to the player to select suitable weapons,
plan good attack (and evasive) actions and then execute them.

As with most of Sid Meyer's games this is a thinking man's sim where
analysing the information and using it to your advantage plays a crucial
part of the game. Computer AI is good enough to challenge most players and
really forces you to think your way through the situation.

Game Play: Missions
Red Storm is a based on missions of varying types. Some send you stalking
an enemy sub, while others see you taking on various surface vessels. Some
targets are escorted by both destroyers (with deadly Anti Submarine
Warfare helicopters) and attack submarines, making it difficult to survive
(let alone sink the main target). Cruise missile attacks on land targets
are also on the menu.

A typical mission starts by detecting the enemy with passive sensors
(while trying to remain undetected) then manoeuvreing to a suitable firing
position. The position is chosen to allow weapons to be launched without
alarming the enemy (very difficult but possible). Learning to use thermal
layers, shadow zones and even noise provided by drift ice on the ocean
surface to reduce the acoustic signature your boat generates plays a big
part here.

As mentioned earlier in this review some weapons can be remotely
controlled. This can be used to beat enemy counter measures like decoys
and noisemakers. Unfortunately similar weapons are available for the enemy
which can make life very difficult if your boat is detected.

The final stage of the mission is getting away from the inevitable
counterattack. Gung-ho tactics during the attack phase usually result in
a crippled boat during the escape (if you are lucky) which might force you
to abort the current patrol and return to base. If the approach and attack
are skillfully executed this section is bit easier.

Getting critical
Apart from the fact that RSR is somewhat limited by its C64 origins
there's very little to fault in actual gameplay. The mission range could
have been bit wider and the player is left alone against the enemy (no
friendly ships or subs are visible on the battlefield). The manual states
that Nato subs do not use wolfpack tactics which conveniently hides the
fact that something had to be left out when cramming the game into the C64
and that something was not seen as important enough to add into the Amiga

Being a hardcore simulation the learning curve is quite steep which means
serious studying of the thick manual is needed even before attempting
your first real mission. Training missions ease up things a bit but even
then it can take eons to learn to play it properly. The multitude of
control buttons to remember during the battle is sometimes mind boggling -
while appreciated by purists it certainly will irritate some players.

The signs of a classic
It is almost five minutes since you got contact information from that
ballistic missile sub (also known as a 'boomer'). You have estimated the
general direction of the target but you also know there is a
diesel/electric enemy attack sub quietly lurking out there somewhere,
waiting for you to make your move.

Suddenly your sonar man hears the 'launch transient' sound which is caused
by compressed air ejecting a torpedo from the tube. You have been
detected and fired upon! Swiftly you order a torpedo launch in the general
direction of that sound, then order your crew to move your sub away from
its current position. You don't want to use the active sonar yet as you
would propably scare away the 'boomer' which is also lurking somewhere
near. You'll need to deal with the attack sub quickly, otherwise the
'boomer' escapes!

Calmly, you enter the tactical display and take over the guidance system
of the robot torpedo your crew just launched. After preprogramming the
'left spiral search' in case the control wire breaks you start to move the
torpedo away from your boat and then towards the target.

Suddenly the enemy torpedo activates and starts to home into your boat!
You drop a noisemaker and dive deeper through the thermal layer,
increasing speed and turning away from torpedo at the same time. The enemy
torpedo is jammed by the noisemaker and loses its lock on you. It starts
its snake search routine but you have successfully managed to steer the
boat away from its route. The enemy torpedo disappears to the sea and you
start to plan your counterattack

You check your own torpedo and find that the control wire is still
working. It is time to give that diesel/electric an early retirement
ticket. Now that it has detected you it must be destroyed before it can
execute its next attack.

You activate the torpedo with a flick of a switch. On the other end of the
light cable the torpedo increases its speed to 60 knots and activates its
sonar. The surprised enemy attack sub starts its own evasive actions but
you skillfully steer around them and manage to sustain lock. The torpedo
slams its warhead against the hull and the enemy sub starts to sink. One
down, one to go.

Fifteen minutes later, you are starting to get frustrated as there are no
signs of the boomer. You took the course to its last known bearing and
continued to the heading you thought it would take. After launching couple
of robot torpedoes for scouting the surrounding, which resulted in no new
information, you decide to descend below the thermal layer. The situation
is unpleasantly familiar to you - you have hunted boomers before and
usually returned empty handed - bagging these guys is extremely difficult.

After sending another torpedo to its route you decide to send couple of
'pings' using the active sonar. This will reveal your position to
surrounding but might result in something. The risk pays off as suddenly
your sonar reports a faint contact. You decide to continue pinging the
contact while steering the torpedo towards it.

After noticing that the torpedo is starting to run out of fuel you
activate it and suddenly the sea becomes very alive. The 'boomer' was
closer than you thought and is caught by the torpedo's sonar! The giant
speeds up, spitting decoys and noisemakers from its rear as it goes. The
torpedo runs out of fuel and stops dead in the water.

You furiously launch the final torpedo towards the target and activate it
almost instantly. Your crew has loaded some Sea Lance missiles to now
empty tubes. Your boat rises to the lauch depth and you launch three Sea
Lances, one for each side of the target. The missiles rise from the water,
fly towards the target, eject their rocket engines above target and start
to land into sea using small parachutes.

Once again you manually ride the torpedo past the decoys and noisemakers.
The warhead explodes to the hull of the boomer but does not sink it. Then
the Sea Lances hit the water and start their sonars and propulsion
systems. Suddenly the boomer is surrounded by three small active torpedoes
two of which instantly lock onto her. Both of them hit the boomer
amidship which finally stops its journey and slowly sends it to the
bottom. Mission accomplished.

You take a deep breath and quietly smile, knowing this victory might
finally turn the tide of the war. For your boat and your crew the next
stop is your home port in Scotland, as you have used almost all your
weaponry and defensive systems. But then again, after all the action, a
few days shore leave does not sound too bad at all...

This game can be only recommended to those who like serious (strategic)
simulations or are Sid Meyer fans and want to check out what Sid The
Genius did back in the 8-bit days.

Red Storm Rising is a very good submarine combat simulation which gives a
quite convincing picture about modern underwater warfare. The thrills in
this game come from learning to use the technologies and strategies in
serious underwater combat. Due to its complexity and narrow subject its
appeal is quite limited but like many of Sid Meyer's games it is
educational and ultimately a thrilling experience to those interested in
putting the effort into playing it.

Graphics:  Pretty 64 colour graphics containing mostly various tactical
           screens and odd bits of animation. Nothing spectacular but they
           fill their purpose well.
Sounds:    Ordinary sound effects and music reminiscent of the C64 original
Gameplay:  Very complex submarine simulation which takes ages to learn and
           even more to master.

Tested on     A500 1 Mb RAM no hard disk,
              A1200 with hard disk
              A1200 with hd plus GVP 1230-II 030 accelerator

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