There are probably many wargamers out there who don't play PC games - so turn away now! This is for those of you who haven't heard about Battlefleet Gothic Armada which was released a few days ago. I'm highlighting it here because it's a very faithful copy of the original BFG game, and for those who used to (and still do) play, I'd recommend it highly. SB5 are currently addicted to it...
It's a basic naval combat simulator. A big 2D board, ships that move around and fire at each other. Special abilities, experience, upgrades for your ships - that's pretty much it. And that's what I like about it, it's so straightforward and unpretentious, it just allows you to drool at the lovely pictures.
It's a strange blend of map campaign and story campaign - you have a sort of star chart you can select missions from. Certain worlds give certain bonuses etc., and there is one compulsory 'story mission' each campaign turn. A big plus seems to be that victory isn't compulsory in these (although I have only played through once). If you fail, rather than loading the game and trying again, you have to sail back to Port Maw for a bollocking off Admiral Ravensburg, which is a nice touch. As I say, this might be written into the story deliberately but it does make it much more immersive.
You can level up and upgrade your ships with some very nifty upgrades, and (my favourite) you also have the power to rename your ships!
So, good points:
Loyal recreation of models - they are exactly the same as the tabletop game. Enough said.
Very good AI system - you can give your ships orders to auto-track enemies, telling them what range to try and maintain etc. I always put squadrons of fighters on this mode and control the flag squadron, the AI is intelligent enough for you to trust and saves micromanaging.
Beautiful visual effects - I don't use that word lightly. It really is impressive, the time they saved creating a nice simple interface and storyline has been spent recreating space phenomena and weapons effects. The AI means you have time to enjoy this, instead of madly micromanaging your ships.
And bad points:
Over simplistic story - the story is so basic that it wouldn't fool a household pet. Perhaps that's deliberate, but the overacted voices (shouty Commissar, sneering fellow Captains, growly Chaos) is a little bit grating sometimes. As I mentioned above, the ability to lose missions and continue the campaign is a very nice touch.
Too zoomed-in - I wish you could zoom the camera out further, and there was a full-screen map from which you could give orders. It's easy to lose yourself, especially when the game annoyingly centres the camera on an objective just as you're giving orders.
Display points - minor niggles now - the font is hard to read, and the little logos which tell you your ships' weapons and specs are tiny. These could be bigger, and clearer.
Looking back at those negatives, that isn't bad for a game that's two or three days out of Alpha. It's £29.99 on Steam at the moment - not cheap, but certainly value for money. I'd highly recommend it.