Fast Attack: High Tech Submarine Warfare

If all the tools of war, the nuclear attack submarine is the most sophisticated killing machine ever devised. It lurks unseen beneath the surface of the ocean, ready to unleash a deadly payload of nuclear weapons at an instant’s notice. Its power lies in its stealth: it can sneak into an enemy battle group, do its damage, and vanish without a trace. Such is the subject matter behind Fast Attack, a sub simulation you’ll want to play.

11In overall design, I can’t think of another game running under DOS that so smoothly integrates so many complex elements into a working game of substantial depth. Fast Attack puts you inside a Los Angeles class nuclear attack sub, with all its systems for waging war at your fingertips. The backbone of the U.S. submarine fleet, the LA is the best the Navy has to offer short of the $1 billion Seawolf. It handles a variety of roles deftly, and it packs one helluva punch (and some LA boats you’ll command are later, refitted models, which means they come with vertical launch tubes stocked with various Tomahawk models).

Fast Attack gives you just about everything you need to assess your environment and locate your target. From a central screen designed to look like a command center, you have access to numerous sensors and war stations. For example, you’ll have access to the sonar screen, the heart of any attack sub, and a minor gem of programming genius: incredibly complex, yet easy to grasp and operate. Since submarines can’t rely on visual identification or radar when submerged, they must gather information on targets by sound, and these sounds are captured by sonar arrays. These are converted into a graphic depiction on a display in the sonar suite. Contacts can then be tagged and identified for type, bearing, direction, and speed.

0When a target is found, you go over to the launch console and load up either the standard Mark 48 torpedo or the UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. Again, in a bid for realism, loading a torpedo takes real time — and then you have to designate a target, warm it up, flood the torpedo tubes, open the tubes, arm the torpedo, and then you can fire. If there is a flaw in the handling of torpedoes, it lies in the inability to set running depth: an often important factor in scoring a kill, and a curious omission for such an otherwise accurate sim.

Fast Attack, of course, is far from perfect. You’ll require the patience of a monk to replay any failed mission since there is no save function, an incredibly annoying omission. This is a real pain in a game where missions can take two hours. Second, there is an artificially imposed time limit on each mission, usually two hours. Trust me, when your TLAMs are on the way to their objectives and you’re kicked out because of the time limit, you’ll wanna kill someone.

20A more serious problem, however, is the artificial intelligence. The enemy ships and subs seem to be commanded by cooks who suddenly found themselves in charge of a ship. And unless you wander into certain dangerous areas, you may find that it’s smooth sailing throughout much of Fast Attack. This isn’t an AI that actively hunts you down. Still, there’s simply too much that was done well here to discount Fast Attack. Numerous missions in a variety of LA-Class subs spread all over the globe, make for some terrific gameplay in the end.

System Requirements: 80486SX 33/CPU, 8 MB RAM, DOS

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