Turn-based strategy fans have to be really desperate to seek out Salvo. The game was released in 2005 by indie publisher Shrapnel Games, Inc. It’s not a terrible game by any stretch but it’s just too slow and ponderous for most players to find real enjoyment in it. Most games are in trouble when all players do is think about things that would make it better. So CheatCC is here to save some time and see if Salvo is worth buying.
Premise and Game System
Salvo involves controlling a fleet of ancient naval vessels for domination of the seaways. Playable countries include England, France, Spain, Holland and America. Players can also play as pirates such as Blackbeard or just generic pirates located on the Barbary Coast. With each turn, captains have five minutes to launch an assault, board other ships, and take measures to protect and maintain their own ships, crews, weapons, and systems.
The game uses a hex-based matrix which doesn’t allow for the best maneuverability. It feels restricted. Positioning is everything in naval battles especially when people are dealing with wooden behemoths that are hundreds of years old with no lasers or guided missiles. There are a variety of period-specific boats that include schooners, fire ships, frigates, gun platforms, and xebecs and bombards, which are more likely to attract fans of sailing ships than turn-based strategy enthusiasts.
Complex Gameplay and Learning Curve
There is a lot of information that needs processing upfront. To its credit, the interface is rather easy to interact with. There are not a lot of stats to ponder but players really have to play a few games to know how things react. Gratification isn’t instant and the waiting doesn’t make success any sweeter. The AI will definitely hand it to players for a while until they learn how to coordinate their attacks. The only way players can do this is to know how their ships react to commands. This entire learning curve could be reduced to mere minutes if control was real-time.
Once you get into position the crew will begin firing on enemy ships. Players must always be careful about getting hit. When you get close enough to board a grapple icon will appear allowing the player to send a crew onto the enemy’s ship. Resources may be limited because they have to keep some of your crew aboard the vessels to keep things running smoothly.
Cheap Graphics and Zero-Replay
Salvo is not a good-looking game. While the ships and environments are rendered in 3D there is very little detail in the graphics and animation to take advantage of this. The water looks solid and the cannons dribble out little wisps of smoke with weak-sounding effects to highlight the overall lack of production values.
The map is static and there is no zoom feature. Commands are easy enough to issue but selecting various ships can be a pain as the game sometimes fails to recognize that you’re directing an entire fleet. There is no editor or multi-player mode to extend the replay value. Players can replay the various missions numerous times for totally different experiences but after a few times through it’s pretty evident they’re playing in the shallow end of the pool.
Salvo! might pass away the remaining summer days until reality kicks back in, but those who sail these seas will be a small dedicated audience who may or not be as forgiving of the game’s inadequacies. In truth, this game is best ignored and lost to the depths of bored and tired games.