The best place to start with Carrier Command: Gaea Mission is to look at the history of the Carrier Command title. The original Carrier Command was released back in 1988 and was available on some of the top computer models of the time such as the Commodore 64 and the original Apple Macintosh. The game was hailed as a critical success upon its release and continues to be a major feature in the landscape in video game history.
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission has been deemed as a modern day retelling of the original title, with a few added bonuses. While the first game was a simple real time strategy game, the newer version offers players not only the opportunity to control a variety of war related machines and strategise your way to a world wide victory, but also allows you to get some third person shooter action in.
This game doesn’t come without its many faults. For the duration of the review keep in mind I was playing the game on an Xbox 360, and not on a PC. The controls are clunky and with the limited buttons available on an Xbox controller, programming the variety of battle ships and tanks can be frustrating and controller throwing worthy.
The game starts off with a ludicrously long cut scene; the kind of cut scene which makes the cut scenes in the Metal Gear Solid franchise seem short. It also has a very Mass Effect feel to it. You’re told to go visit your commander where she alerts you to your newest mission of saving Earth. Not just Earth either, but a variety of subsidiary islands surrounding Earth. Once you’re given your mission, you take off with your crew and begin to fly off before encountering enemy hostility and crashing. Luckily, you’ve crashed on an island you need to help anyways and none of your crew members have been injured. This is where your story begins.
There are some positive factors to the game. The third person shooting is a nice touch which becomes the only driving force you’ll have for finishing the game. It’s a simple shooting technique, much like the one in the Mass Effect franchise but with a lot more technical problems. The auto-lock which is an option in the game, doesn’t actually fully lock onto your target. By the time you’ve landed your first shot on your enemy, which appears to be some form of artificial intelligent alien life force, they’ve already moved halfway across the map.
With that being said, the enemies are extremely easy to kill. Almost too easy. Even as you move up in the ranks and encounter a different variety of enemies, each one goes down without much of a fight. A couple of shots when you’re first starting out are all you need to clear a level and as you scrounge farther and farther into the game, with the backup of your team, it doesn’t take too much added concentration or button mashing.
The shooting aspect is still enjoyable, though. It’s an easy play through to achieve what seems to be the goal on every island and subsequent area your team moves too, overriding the control system they have and claiming it as your own. Once this has been accomplished, your team learns of a new vehicle on the island which you can capture as your own before you head back to your ship and head to the next piece of land that needs saving.
This is where the problems truly begin. Once again, on the Xbox 360 the controls just did not work with what needed to be accomplished. Once aboard your ship, you can equip the weapons and tanks needed for the next mission before heading out. While the directions are simple for how to equip, drop, and attach items, the mechanics of the controller in correlation to the directions which appear on screen are not. You’ll find yourself fiddling around with it for a while before you either get it and begrudgingly move on, or in a fit of utter frustration, throw your controller across the room.
Once you’ve left -or rather escaped- the boat which has been docked just outside of the island, you take off and being your shooting escapade. They’re are some cool features players can utilize once they’ve begun the mission, but problems with the controls once again come into play and take away from the experience. For example, in a variety of missions, one of the playable features is to take control on two land tanks and use them together to shut down plants. It’s an interesting concept and for the first couple of minutes is entirely fun to mess around with, but after a couple of minutes it just becomes utterly frustrating to maneuver once more.
The maneuverability of the vehicles was one of the biggest concerns I had with the entire game. If you moved the vehicle even a fifth of the wrong way, it would not reverse nor drive forward and you spend countless minutes trying to fix the direction of your tank before just giving up. Even with the ship which doesn’t require much moving, the simple moving it does is clunky and rather annoying.
The actual campaign story isn’t necessarily horrible, it just reminds me much too much of Mass Effect. This game has a very Mass Effect feel without the astounding gameplay Mass Effect provides players. This is not a campaign story you will become deeply immersed in, and instead is a campaign you’ll be happy you’ve finished at the end of it.
This game, quite frankly, isn’t worth the time or money. It’s the type of game that if released as a downloadable game for $10 may be worth it, but for $60 I would recommend you save your money and put it towards another game being released within the week. It’s not that Carrier Command: Gaea Mission is an atrocious game, it’s just not a great one.