Power At Sea puts you in charge of American naval forces. Your task is to capture the four Japanese bases in the Leyte Gulf.
You start the game by selecting the number of fighter and bomber planes allocated to your aircraft carrier, and the number of troops and amount of fuel for the convoy. You'll find out what the best combinations are during the mission.
The main screen depicts the bridge of the command ship with the back of the commander's head plumb in the middle. In front of him sit the four major offices; communications, navigation, damage and weapons operations. Using the joystick, you can move the commander's head to face any one of the four officers to get them to perform a function. If a particular officer needs the commander's attention, you'll hear a peeping sound, and the officer's head will turn round.
So the radio man gives messages from HQ, warns of enemy sightings and attacks, and tells the commander when a destination is reached.
Next man along is navigation, who plots the ship convoy's course on a map of the Gulf. Plotting a course is done by moving a crosshair with your joystick. The tick here is to work out the shortest distance between enemy bases to conserve fuel. Having plotted the course you choose the speed. For long distances you can turn on 'time compression'.
Next man along is the damages bloke. Here you get a picture of the ship with damage indicated both graphically and in text. With only 96 hours to complete the mission you can't afford to limp around.
Last is the weapons operations man who controls the planes, guns and landing forces. He also indicates which force is best suited to an action. When you spot an enemy destroyer, you send in the fighter planes to soften it up and then you bomb it. Kamikaze-planes get the ack-ack treatment from your anti-aircraft guns. When you reach land, your long-range guns pound enemy coastal installations in preparation for the landing of the assault troops. Most of the action takes place as a sequence of pictures, like film stills.
Still, you do get to fly the planes. But what you get is a cut-price flight sim view of your cockpit and only one attempt to bash the destroyer per plane. Same goes for the guns. You can move them up and down, side-to-side Beach Head style and fire - that's it. It's all very boring because there's no real feeling of accuracy.
The biggest bummer of all is that you don't get to take part in the final land assault. That's done as a series of pictures too. Little bits of text appear on the screen, "We need reinforcements", and you simply sit back and wait for the result.
If you manage to capture all four bases, or you're too damaged to carry on, you're sent back to base and given a score ranging from commander to mop boy.
Graphics were very good and there is lots of attention to minute detail. Sound is good too, although not overpowering.
Power At Sea is a well thought out and constructed game but it falls down very badly on the action sequences. And since the strategy stuff isn't all that taxing for the brain, it should have been better.