Shoot and move forward. Follow these instructions and you'll be able to reach the end of almost every E3 demo on the show floor. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission belongs to the other 1%. It's a game that is hard to be sold on at a trade show, especially when it's the last game you are seeing of the day.
Even though trying to understand the mechanics and controls of Gaea Mission hurt my brain, its peculiar blend of real-time strategy and first-person action captured my interest. It may have a steep learning curve, but there isn't another game at E3 quite like it.
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Gae Mission is a reboot of 1988's cult hit action-strategy hybrid Carrier Command. In Gaea Mission, you control a large carrier ship armed with turrets and vehicles, ground and air, that can be deployed. Once you have a couple ships in the air, you can direct them from your command center or jump into their cockpit and control them directly.
I think this is a fantasy we've all had. Just imagine a game of Starcraft where you can see the battlefield and attack directly through the eyes of a unit. How awesome would that be? Well, Gaea Mission isn't quite as imaginative in its unit selection or smooth in their control, but it's the thought that counts.
Being a strategy game, you'll fight enemy carriers for land and resources. The maps of GM are made of 33 islands that you can control, building defenses, mining, and manufacturing units on them. You can play games against AI on randomized skirmishes or play the solo campaign.
The story actually begins as a Halo-esque FPS, until you get your carrier 30 minutes in. Carrier Command purists should still find much to enjoy here and a lot of it. The campaign alone is over 20 hours. Sadly, the game will not ship with multiplayer but the developer hasn't ruled out the possibility of rolling out a competitive mode in a future patch.
Gaea Mission went into beta in April, hoping to polish the rough edges before its Xbox 360 and PC release in September. If you are a fan of the original or just want a unique take on the strategy genre, GM may be worth looking into. Just do yourself a favor and don't jump into the tutorial after a long work day.