Dangerous Waters

It’s a beautiful spring morning. You stand on the cramped bridge of a 688(I) fast attack sub packed to the gills with hi-tech sensors and weapons of war. You squint in the crisp air as you transit out of the harbor for scheduled exercises off the coast of San Diego. The intercom squawks: “Bridge, Radio; request the captain in the radio shack, sitcom Class Red message received.†The voyage that began with your second cup of coffee as a routine training exercise is about to take you and your crew into a battle for your lives.

20So begins one mission of Dangerous Waters. Known for their high-fidelity naval simulations that stretch back all the way to the mid 1990s. Their most famous games include Jane’s 688(I), Fleet Command, and Sub Command. These US Navy contractors have created a naval sim that lets cyber-captains battle on, above, and below the sea like nothing ever before. Players can take control of a Perry class frigate, Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter, and the P-3C Orion long-range reconnaissance aircraft, along with the Russian Akula and Kilo, and the US Seawolf and venerable 688(I) class submarines.

There’s plenty of attention to detail. To use an example, one mission’s objective is to safeguard a task force from a hostile submarine, somewhere under the waves. After selecting the Perry class guided missile frigate and choosing full-realism mode, it was time to send out the Seahawk ASW helicopter and instruct it to lay down a pattern of sonobuoys ahead of the task force to listen for enemy subs. Meanwhile, high overhead, a P-3 Orion recon plane makes wide sweeps across the convoy’s path. “Torpedo in the water!†cries one of the crewmen.

While giving out orders to begin evasive action and deploying decoys, the Seahawk is sent to drop a pair of MK46 torpedoes on the bearing of the suspected hostile. Despite frantic efforts, the frigate takes a hit and many of the stations are damaged, making it impossible to continue fighting.

Dangerous Waters features a broad assortment of stations and gear that can be damaged. Some items will repair over time while others can’t be replaced while underway. In this scenario, the Akula, scurrying from the Seahawk’s torpedoes, can no longer run silent and his position is pinpointed. The P-3 Orion swoops in at 330 knots and unloads one of his eight MK50 torpedoes on the track of the Akula. He’s toast. Barring any further hostile encounters, the task force will survive, completing the objective.

17If you approach the sim from the viewpoint of a novice naval gamer, you could replay the same mission with the AutoCrew switched on. These AI helpers begin all the tasks of detecting and analyzing the sonar contacts and getting the weapons primed. The “Show Truth†option enables you to see all the ships and subs around you. Then if you increase the time compression to 4X, you’re looking at more of a high-energy action game. By including a variety of realism options, Dangerous Waters can offer an entertaining military action game or a realistic simulation, depending on your tastes.

System Requirements: Pentium III 700 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 1.2 GB HDD, Win98

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