Realistic military strategy games might not be for everyone, but for the patient armchair generals out there, they can be extremely engrossing. When it comes to realism, things don’t get much more realistic than Fleet Command, which Wikipedia describes as “basically a naval combat strategic training simulator”. This article is focused on the original release of the game, not the Naval Combat Pack re-release (which unfortunately we don’t have a copy of).
The hardest part of getting the game working on modern PCs is getting it installed. Sonalysts Combat Simulations actually produced an updated installer for the game but even using that we weren’t able to get the game installed on a modern PC. In the end we decided to write our own replacement installer. Our installer will install the game from your original CD, along with the latest patch. You can download the installer here (link broken? Let me know here).
Running the game
For best results when playing the game on a modern PC, you should set the game to run in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 2). If you’re not familiar with setting compatibility modes, see this tutorial.
Tweaking visual quality
There are a few options you can change to make sure the game is running at optimum visual quality. Start the game and then from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Graphics”. The picture below shows the screen that will appear.
Let’s have a look at what these settings do and how they affect the game.
2D Map Resolution – Set this to High for best results.
2D Map Scroll Speed – Set this according to your tastes. Since we’re running the game on a much faster PC than it was originally designed for, you should probably try “Slow”, at least until you’re comfortable with the game.
2D Map Zoom Levels – Set that to 20 for the best visual quality.
Use Relief Shading on Map – Enable for best visual quality.
Screen resolution – Notice in the screenshot how this is split into two boxes. On the left you can select your video adapter and on the right the actual screen resolution. The game supports both Direct3D and the now defunct 3DFX/Glide standards. If you have installed glide wrapper software such as nGlide, you will be able to choose either 3DFX mode or D3D mode. The game was optimised for the then cutting edge 3DFX cards, but on our machine it seemed to run just fine in D3D mode too. Our advice is to try each one and see which works best for you. In D3D mode we were able to select higher resolutions in the game itself, but using the nGlide configurator tool we were able to force the game into higher resolutions. By doing this however, the game would often fail to play a video clip properly, sometimes rendering only a quarter or so of the movie file while the rest of the screen was filled up with an image of our Windows destkop.
Movie playback issues – We had some issues with movies not playing properly or not playing smoothly. Consider using Direct3D mode for best results. If movies and menus have strange colours, try disabling any secondary monitors. Windows 7 users can also try the “disable desktop composition” compatibility option.
Problems saving games and configurations – Like many old titles, Jane’s Fleet Command saves its game data into the same folder as the game itself. In some instances on more modern versions of Windows, this will mean that save games and configuration files cannot be written. If you use our replacement installer this shouldn’t be a problem, as it defaults to a folder called “Games” rather than the “program files” directory. The actual save game files are named “player.log” (where player is your player name).
Honestly we’ve no idea how to play this game, so here are a couple of screenshots we found online. Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.