Remember the old arcade submarine games like WolfPack and the early computer versions such as Silent Service? Well, Fast Attack makes those games look like toys. Instead of looking through your periscope and happily waxing every ship that whizzes by, Fast Attack sits you down in front of fully-rendered weapons control panels, helm controls, etc. and lets you have the feeling that you're actually driving a 688i-class Nuclear submarine. Want to torpedo somebody? Well, first you have to load a torpedo (or Tomahawk missile if you prefer fireworks), get a sonar reading of your prey, plot a firing solution against your target's present course, flood your torpedo tubes, arm the torpedo, recheck your target's course, fire the torpedo, wait for it to acquire its target, then feed it any last minute changes in the target's tracking, and then hope that your prey doesn't have countermeasures or torpedoes of its own. If authenticity is what you're looking for in a submarine warfare game, this is it. This is not a game for the impatient, or for someone who wants a quick 15-minute break for entertainment. This is for the folks who saw or and thought, "Man, it'd be cool to command one of those."
Despite the fact that most of the Cold War bogeymen are officially gone, in order to make a game like this work, you have to conjure them up again. So, Lt. Commander (your name here), the Reds/bad guys (sometimes Russian, sometimes Cuban, occasionally a renegade merchant/drug runner, etc.) are on the prowl. Find them before they find you. Sink them. But make sure you identify them first, because, guess what? Often your theater of operation has more friendlies than foes in it, and you wouldn't want to end up in front of a Congressional subcommittee explaining why you just opened up the U.S.S. Eisenhower like it was a cheap tin can, now would you? And yes, you can actually get court-martialed and hauled into Congress to explain your actions, so pick your targets wisely.
Fast Attack uses a mix of interactive graphics, such as weapons control, helm, periscope, etc. and video cut-scenes -- everything from loading and firing each torpedo, to attack animations which show the devastation wrought by your weapons, to mission aftermath videos which cover debriefings. Overall, these are quite well done, but can get repetitive. To Sierra's credit, the user has a great deal of control over how much "in-between" scenes are played.
You have to love the minutiae to like this game. For detail freaks, this will be heaven; for those who don't want to wait 40 minutes of real-time for the weapons center to be repaired after taking a hit, well, grab yourself a shoot-'em-up instead. To be fair, there is a time compression function which allows you to run the game at up to 5 times the normal rate. Still, I had time to make and eat a burrito while I was waiting for my crew to repair damage.
Fast Attack is single player only -- no network or modem play (which is too bad, because getting, say, 8 human captains hunting one another down might make for a more exciting scenario). The game does include over 40 different missions in 5 theaters of action, so there's no shortage of possibilities -- and a great long-term play/replay value.
486DX33 or greater, 8 MB RAM, 2 MB hard drive space, 2X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster-compatible sound card, MS DOS 5.0 or greater, supports mouse
Reviewed on: Gateway Pentium 75, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster AWE 32, MS DOS 6.22, MS mouse
The opening lead-in for the game absolutely had me hooked -- I couldn't wait to go lock my torpedoes on an enemy ship, so I immediately jumped into the first training mission without reading the manual. Big mistake. You know how when you're getting on a jumbo jet you can look past the stewardess who greets you, and check out the banks and banks of instruments in the cockpit? And you know how doing that makes you wonder how much training and memorization it must take to pilot a 747? Well, the same goes for driving a sub. When the slightly panicked sonar operator reports a "contact" (lethal enemy torpedo) at 1900 yards and closing and you're leafing frantically through the manual saying to yourself, "Damn! How the $%#! do I launch a countermeasure?!" you'll wish you'd read the manual. Or you'll just get frustrated. I was personally somewhere in between.
After playing through several missions for about 4 hours the first day, I was intrigued, if not excited, by the challenge of learning the controls and commands. By the second time I played it, I was somewhat better at tracking enemy ships, saving my hide, etc., but found that after about 10 missions there simply wasn't enough variation or thrill to the game to make me want to keep going. I like my enemies scary and close at hand; in Fast Attack they're scary enough, but they plod along, nearly as blind as you are, and then whack you just about the time you've spent an hour and a half hunting them. And, as you're underwater, it's often a one-shot fight, which, for a 1-1/2 to 2 hour investment is a frustratingly short payoff. So I give the game a 78: strong on graphics, detail and possibilities, short on engaging action and excitement. Some people will be absolutely immersed in this game and suddenly wonder how it got to be dawn, while others will punch a few archaically-labeled buttons and leave the helm for something faster and more immediate. The name Fast Attack is really quite a misnomer -- there is nothing fast about this game -- it is pure strategy simulation, and strictly for hardcore fans of the same.