In 1986, Tom Clancy and Larry Bond worked together to create a techno-thriller novel that touched on the topic of a conventional war (without nuclear weapons) occurring between the former Soviet Union and the United States of America. It was titled : Red Storm Rising, after the battle plan used by the Soviets.
It was an almost unheard of concept at that time because both superpowers had Nuclear Arsenals. One could never think of a war occurring between them without nukes coming into play. Yep, that’s escalation for you, once one side knows it’s losing it will always bring the bigger guns out. Still, they were able to devise a plot that would make this scenario convincingly possible and would therefore result in the book being a best-seller.
Although the novel had Clancy’s name on the cover without any mention of Larry Bond, Clancy attributes part ownership of the book to him. Much of the combat that occurred in the novel was played out in the “Harpoon” board game that Larry Bond invented.
Fast forward 2 years later and a game was made by Microprose that focused on the submarine warfare that occurred in the novel. What came out was the best submarine simulator ever made. Realistic enough to get sub enthusiasts to waste hours behind the computer playing it, but not “too” realistic that it becomes a bore to play (actual submarine engagements can last 12 hours for just 1 sortie).Unlike most modern tactical simulators, you cannot choose sides, so you always end up playing the American side (of course, they invented the game! *snicker*).
Two types of game play are available, Campaign or Simulation (with a trainer module thrown in that will pit you against weak enemies).
In Simulation, you get to practice commanding your submarine against different missions that can be found in the Campaign. In Campaign you take the helm of a Nuclear Attack Submarine (of your choosing) at the onset of the conflict in the Novel. I’d suggest getting the best submarine if your are just starting this game, that way you will have considerable advantage over your enemies and it won’t be as frustrating *snicker*
By completing assignments given to you by the-powers-that-be, you are in effect helping win the war against the Soviets. One feature of the game is your home port in Holy Loch, Scotland. Here you can come in for repairs, reload weapons as well as tailor fit your weapons load out to the mission given to you. For example, if you are intercepting a ship armada, you could convert majority of your weapons to Anti-Ship missiles in exchange of your torpedoes.
Once you have obtained started the campaign proceed to the Command Page to receive your mission orders, hit “Shift” whenever the screen freezes up when you are receiving your orders. Initially you are faced with an electronic map that shows the European Theatre. You start out from your home port (the “V” symbol with a dot in the middle.) Your objective is to align yourself with the Diamond Symbols (via the arrow keys) moving in the map which could or could not be your intended target. So be careful in choosing which enemy group to follow as choosing the wrong one might mean that your objective has slipped passed by you. Look to your mission orders for hints on the whereabouts of your enemy.
Once you have made contact with the enemy the screen will now shift to another
Command Screen where you can Review Mission Orders, Check the Ship Status or go to Battle Stations. I’d suggest checking the ship status first so that you can load your torpedo tubes with the correct armament. Shift, F12 and F11 are the keys you will be using here to load and unload weapons.
Battle Stations is where the fun begins because your enemy’s location is randomly generated. Depending on your depth, speed, condition of the water and distance, the tactical map will show you the location of the enemy. From there you can point your weapons and launch the fury of your arsenal at him. Be careful as reloading torpedo tubes takes some time and firing at an enemy will also reveal your location to him.
The game is available at an abandon-ware site here (download directly from here). While the manual can be obtained here. To start the game, unpack the zip files and Click on Redstorm.com. Select no joystick, then EGA(16 color) for monitor preference and finally IBM PC/XT/AT/PS2. for sound. That’s it and you’re all set to go.
I have to admit that the learning curve for this game is quite steep because of the fact that you have to memorize a handful of commands in order to use the offensive and defensive features of the boat. Not to mention that you have to have a fair amount of knowledge on how modern submarine warfare works. But I guarantee that Naval Enthusiasts will get a kick out of the game for its realism.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
- Nobody really uses the periscope in modern submarine warfare, except when you have shoot down a helicopter with the stinger missile.
- You have to go to missile firing depth before you can launch your missiles while Periscope depth for the Stinger
- You can guide your torpedoes to the target as long as you aren’t moving fast enough (about 10 knots) that your speed will cut the control wires.
- Active Sonar (those loud pings you make) is most effective when you are going up against diesel-electric subs because you just can’t hear those bastards. Otherwise I’d suggest not using it as you will expect to see a sudden onslaught of weapons heading towards you after that first ping
- When you run out of noise makers, you can speed up to 30 knots and make a rapid turn to create a knuckle in the water that acts like a noise maker (be sure to slow down afterwards so that the enemy can’t detect you)
- Torpedoes have no loyalty, even your own torpedoes can come after you. So you would want to be behind the business end of a torpedo (and not in-front) at all times.