Carrier Deck reviews

Translated by
Microsoft from Dutch
This game reminds of the "good old days" of gaming, when graphics were ugly because computers were slow and creative game design was what kept you coming back for more. Carrier Deck manages to hit the sweet spot between frustration and simplicity by easing you into the game with simple mechanics but requiring you to evolve and grow in order to beat the campaign missions. Some functions seem to have no use until you hit the later campaign missions where you learn that each sortie slightly damages your plane, and preventitive maintenance becomes a requirement if you 't want your planes to crash into the ocean or the deck when things get hectic later on. I managed to finish the campaign using version 1.0.2, before the 1.1.2 update fundamentally changed the launch queue mechanic, making life a little easier. The core gameplay is very addictive and reminds me of the golden oldie "Kennedy Approach" by Andy Hollis which put you into similar stressful situations, usually worsened by your own mistakes and on-the-fly improvisations. The campaign is the main course of the game, giving you plenty of challenges to overcome. The quick game option is, in my opinion, too easy after you learn how to efficiently manage your carrier air wing. After beating the campaign and the quick missions, you're left with the survival mode, which reminds me of a tower defense game. But this mode has some problems: The missions seem to be randomly generated, but the generator does not take into account currently active missions or the planes you have available, often leading to the spawning of a series of enemies that cannot be beaten, no matter how well you play. Some examples: After several minutes you have 3 Hornets and 4 super Hornet when the game spawn 3 "5+1" carriers in quick succession, which you simply cannot defeat, so game over. At other times it spawn 3 or 4 enemy ships that hit the carrier almost simultaneously, and would require at least 14 planes to take out, but the land/reload/rearm sequence makes it impossible to kill them in time, causing an avalanche of strikes and the ultimate demise of your carrier. Because if this "too random" spawning, getting a high score is more luck than skill, and for me it wears thin pretty quick. The core gameplay loop is very fun, though, and I would love to see the game expand on it, perhaps by letting you pick the planes you get to work with or some other mechanic to give the campaign some replay value. Perhaps the quick game mode can be married to some kind of dynamic campaign, but it could also backfire if it doesn't work. As it is now, it's cheap, fun, addictive and very good value for money, so do get it!