Destroyer (US Gold/Epyx) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

By Epyx
Commodore 64

Published in Computer Gamer #22

Peaked caps and scrambled egg are not supplied with the game, but everything else is.


Imagine a cross between Silent Service and Beach-Head (revisited?) and you can imagine the action that lies ahead in Destroyer.

You captain a Fletcher Class Destroyer patrolling the high seas in the heat of the action of WWII. Ahead of you lie missions ranging from escorting convoys to hunting submarines.

Manning a destroyer is a complicated task, even when it is broken down into Silent Service/Dambusters style station screens. Especially when there are thirteen of them!

Naturally this is beyond the standard joystick selection so you have to type in two-letter codes to access the BRidge to steer and activate weapons. NAvigation to plot a course between four set map co-ordinates, RAdar to track approaching enemy aircraft or ships, SOnar to track down enemy subs, DAmage control to patch up your destroyer and two main guns (G Aft, G Forward), two torpedo stations (T Port, T Starboard), twin anti-aircraft guns (AS, AP) and four depth charge guns that can be set to any depth to take out anything the enemy throw at you.

Luckily, you won't need all of those for every mission and you should begin your captaincy with an easier assignment such as the hunt for a single submarine or the shooting gallery of the enemy air attack in the Beach-Head style screen.

Each mission begins with a briefing which spells out your mission. It's important to read this carefully, particularly the map references, because once the action hots up you're on your own.

From the bridge you can activate the weapons systems you'll need and tell the helmsman to follow the course plotted on the navigation screen. If submarines are expected then it's a good idea to bracket the four depth charges to a good range of depths, so you're ready to attack as soon as sonar get a signal.

Each station has its own set of controls whose operation must be perfected if all is to be ship-shape and the mission successful. This is vital if you are to stand any chance at all in the more complex missions played at the highest of the three possible levels. For example, guarding a slow-moving convoy sets you up as a sitting target against attacking submarines, aircraft, ships and even shelling from island gun emplacements.

Naturally you can only be at one station at a time and so you should keep a careful lookout for reports from the other stations particularly enemy sightings from radar or sonar.

At times you have only seconds to respond and rush to the appropriate weapon screen to fight off the foe while finding time to assign the repair crews and navigate safely through seas full of coral reefs and hull-smashing rocks.

Survive those missions and you can tackle a scouting mission where you are ordered to avoid combat, the attack everything bombardment in support of a marine invasion, a search behind enemy lines for a shot-down pilot and the battle through a blockade to deliver important supplies.

Each scenario can be played at easy, intermediate or the suicidal advanced level with proportionate increase in enemy forces.

The true test of your captaincy, skill and reactions comes when you've taken a few hints and the damage boys are stretched. Do you run for it to regroup for another assault or do you battle it out hoping everything holds together for a few more seconds?

Either way, Destroyer will test you, your nerve and your joystick to the limits.