Bohemia’s Carrier Command: Gaea Mission is a remake of 1988’s Carrier Command, which I played on the Atari ST at the age of barely anything. As with most games that required higher brain functions to operate, I became very familiar with Carrier Command’s opening screen: an iconic view over the deck of your carrier. Beyond that was the ocean and on the horizon lay the game’s first island, Vulcan.
So the first thing I wanted to do in Carrier Command: Gaea Mission was to check if Bohemia had recreated that opening scene. And they have. In fact, so faithful is their remake that you can draw comparisons at almost every corner. The two games are separated by 25 years and, it seems, not a whole lot else. Let’s compare!
Manta on deck:
The Mantas in Gaea Mission are moremanoeuvrablethan their 1988 siblings, which were basically a sleekly assembled handful of polygons, but they pop up out of the hangar in exactly the same way, arriving on deck like proud little aerosoldiers. Sadly, you can’t bring 2012 Mantas to deck while the carrier is in motion -which always felt oddly pleasing in the original Carrier Command – but youcan have all four on deckat once now.
Manta in flight:
Okay, so perhaps the games tend to diverge visually once you leave the carrier, but this comparison does highlight a feature missing from Gaea Mission. The original game’s islands often hadrunways on which your Mantas could land and refuel. The bumblebee-like 2012 Mantas tend to get a bit explodey if you attempt to land them.
The Walrus is your carrier’s amphibious tank, and it’s still used in much the same way it was in 1998: as a means of delivering flatpacked, island-colonising starter kits. In Gaea Mission, Walruses are ejected from the side of the carrier, which is slightly less cool than how they’d come whizzing out of the rear-dock in the original game. Look at this retroWalrus, he knows what’s going on.
The carrier’s super-powered deck gun is capable of levelling most buildings, and is limited mostly by the carrier’s ability to get anywhere near the island without grounding itself. Both the original gun and Gaea Mission’s share a tediously slow rate of fire, as well as bullets (lasers in the first, now plasma in the remake) of such slow velocity as to render them useless against moving targets.
The bafflinglyextensive repair options available in the original game have been reduced somewhat in Gaea Mission. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the menus of either, but Bohemia have retained the original game’s amazing, rotating vector-graphic hologram of your carrier. And that’s the important thing. Mousing over the carrier’s various components will highlight the appropriate section of the hologram, too.
Whereas the original Carrier Command had a predetermined archipelago, Gaea Mission’s islands are procedurallygenerated at the game’s outset using fancy algorithms and the like. The beta version only offers a mere handful of islands – not enough to be considered an archipelago, really – compared to the 64 found in the 1988 version. And check out the background in the Gaea Mission screenshot: you’ve now got little human crew members pootling about.
The carrier in the original Carrier Command was fully robotic, requiring no crew. That’s the sort of trivia you learn by having the game’s Wikipedia entry open in another tab.