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Distant Guns

Score: 75%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Storm Eagle Studios
Developer: Storm Eagle Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

At night, the Japanese positioned themselves just away from the port where the ships were all anchored close together and defenseless. On board the anchored ships, the crew went about their routine of maintenance and preparation for the morning. There had been no declaration of war. No reason to be overly cautious. The next morning, the Japanese launched their surprise attack and fired upon the anchored ships, crippling the fleet. The funny thing is that we, the United States, applauded them for their audacity and strategy. This was not the start of America's involvement in World War II. It was the start of the Russo-Japanese War and the subject of Storm Eagle Studios naval war simulation Distant Guns.

The date was Feb 8, 1904. Steam-powered ships from Japan pinned the Russian fleet in Port Arthur. The naval conflicts that followed this onslaught were massive and fierce, as each side vied for power on the seas between Manchuria and Japan.

This game may not be specifically "life-like" in the graphics department, but there is an extreme amount of detail in every ship, dingy and artillery piece in the game. I can look out across the sea and see ships on the horizon with their stacks billowing black smoke as they race to gain position in the battle. The graphics, keep in mind they weren't trying for anything extreme, are surprisingly immaculate and immersive. I rarely get sucked into games by graphics alone, but you can't help but feel like you're commanding a massive fleet for real. You can see men on deck manning guns and see damage from incoming shells. I was impressed with the level of detail for as low a video card as you are required to have.

The music is period-driven and equally immersive. Powerful marches and instrumentals push the sense of war and bravado. Though the sound had a little glitch in the opening selections, it quickly evened out once you began gameplay. I will not find myself humming along on any of the movements, but it did further push me into the game.


In Distant Guns, you take a commander's 3rd-person view over the entire scenario as the action takes place in real time. Control your fleet by assigning ships to battle groups and setting patrol regions. Your job is to outmaneuver and bring your guns to bear on your enemy before he does the same to you.

Whether you play the full campaign or the individual scenarios and missions, you will be able to split and assign your fleet any way you like. Once you have assigned your battle groups and their formations, you give them a course and heading. By clicking on the various groups, you assign their speed, course, maneuvering and targeting. You can choose to target the lead of the nearest group or individual targets. While maneuvering, you can control whether a specific ship turns individually where you want it to or you can turn the whole fleet all together. This breaks up the battle line, but may save you from a disastrous position, sacrificing one ship instead of risking all of the ships.


The title of this section explains the game. Distant Guns is in no way a casual, light-hearted game. In fact, it is the opposite end of the spectrum. There is a 160-page manual that will walk you through how to get going in the game. This does not mean it isn't a fun game, you just have to be really into this type of game.

The best way to explain it is to look at the people who made it. Norm Koger, from the The Operational Art of War series, and Jim Rose both have a long history of deep, war theory games. The entire group comes from names like Avalon Hill, SSI and Talonsoft. For those who may be unfamiliar with any of these names, I will explain by saying that each of the above mentioned companies are synonymous with deep, extensive and methodical gameplay. These were games that you just didn't play, you learned to play. You didn't often pick one up for just an hour or two game experience, either. These games were long for the experience and richness.

Game Mechanics:

I would like to start out about Distant Guns by saying I still think that they have a long way to go with all of the available real world implementations of this game. The user interface is simple and clean, but it is almost too simple. In this area alone, I felt like they stepped away from their former roots and made the commands a little too arcade-like. I wanted to be able to give commands to turn when they got to a point during the actual battle, but instead since it was in real time I would have to order it when the time came and they were in position.

What was cool about the ships was to see how they reacted after being damaged. There are extensive details that can be viewed on each ship. Ships would sink slowly and list. You do not see the same canned sink animations either. Guns on heavily hit ships will cease to function as the crew is dead or busy. Damaged ships would break out of formation or could not react to turns as fast due to damage. Also as you approach shore, you will encounter mine fields and land mounted artillery. A lesson learned the hard way.

I will have to admit that this game was a bit massive for my tastes. I have weighed the factors of type of genre against fun. I have measured the time spent playing against the educational value. I will say that this is a great and well thought-out game. I just can't see myself spending the same dedicated time to this as a game as most of its true fans of the genre do. I rate this game as well above average. I personally feel it still needed to be either more immersive or more automated to keep me interested through some of the more mundane applications of its gameplay. This is a good game guys, and I hope to see it grow still into a great one.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP installed on your PC, an Internet Connection with a valid email address, PC that is at least 1.5 GHz Intel or AMD Compatible, Minimum of 512MB of Ram, A 3D Video Card capable of running Direct X 9, 275 MB of Hard Drive space.

Test System:

Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 256 PCIE 16 ATI X300

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated