I bought Harpoon 3 Advanced Naval Warfare yesterday and of course I could not resist the urge to play it immediatly. I selected a scenario at random and ended up in “Three young tigers” commanding some Philippino/Malay/American coalition going up against the PLAN in the usual disagreement over the Spratlys.

Installation was fast and trivial but my immediate impression was one of disappointement. The graphical interface is still its more than a decade old Harpoon II self with its windowing system independant from Windows own and limited to a window (no full screen) with a maximum size of 1280×1024 pixels. As promised it is rock stable – no crash, no glitch and no problems whatsoever switching between H3ANW and other applications. But I expected some ergonomics improvements and there are none. Interaction with the game is still as clunky as ever and the concept of contextual menu and drag’n’drop are still unknown in the Harpoon world.

On top of all that, even on an Athlon 2400, H3ANW is still the CPU hog that Harpoon has always been – I pegged CPU usage to 100% during the whole game. And I do not yet understand what the increased CPU usage brings : I have not found the AI to have improved measurably.

So to me, H3ANW is a stable bug-free Harpoon II with multiplayer capability. Not bad if only for the sheer nostalgia value. I do not regret my purchase and I will surely find much pleasure in toying with imaginary haze gray heavy metal, especially if I can find a like-minded friend to play with. But I do not believe that H3ANW will appeal to anyone outside of a small circle of old Harpoon players and hard-core naval warfare afficionados. That traditionnal audience will find just what it needed, but the casual gamers who overcame the initial hurdle of getting interested to a realistic simulation with historic context and getting used to the NTDS symbols will certainly be horrified by the woeful ergonomics.