2022 WWIII Video Game Tournament Championship

For those in Peril on the sea….

Early in this tournament I had a feeling the championship matchup might very well end up being between Harpoon and Command. They are thoroughbreds in every way, and I expected both to go far. Prophesy fulfilled.  So, here we are. Two games that accurately simulate naval and air operations with special attention to the Cold War years. If you want to model a Third World War at sea at any time from 1946-1991, these are the platforms I recommend for the task.

I’m not going to go into deep descriptions on either game. By this point, many readers are familiar with them. Either from their own experiences or my frequent mention of the games over the years. In short, this is a duel between teacher and student. Harpoon brought naval wargaming into the mainstream and made it popular mainly through a complex yet learnable gameplay system. The fact that the PC version was released in the later years of the Cold War certainly helped. The generation of gamers that fell in love with Harpoon did not have many operational-level naval PC game options to choose from back in 1989. It was the most detailed naval simulation to ever hit the civilian market and was helpful to naval officers as well. In fact, back in 1990 a US naval officer remarked in a review for the game that playing six hours of Harpoon taught him more than one year at the US Naval War College did. I’m sure his detailer just loved to hear that. 😊

CMO (Command Modern Operations) can trace its roots directly back to Harpoon. The similarities between the games are apparent and this makes sense considering some of the folks who developed CMANO (CMO’s predecessor) as well as Command, were also active in the Harpoon community working on third-party content. So, as many folks have noted in the past, CMO was pretty much put together by Harpoon geeks. 😊 Only they took it a step or two further, thanks to technology that was not available in 1989, and created the ultimate Terminator version of Harpoon in CMANO and CMO. Harpoon is the Arnold Schwarzenegger terminator and CMO is the T-1000. They locked horns once or twice too, I believe.

Since these two games are so evenly matched, I’ve changed the scoring for the championship. The categories used in the last two contests remain. However, instead of declaring an outright winner for every individual category, I’ve attached a scoring scale of 1.0-5.0 to every individual category. Each game’s respective category scores were added up and the sum of those are their final scores. This is very similar to the system I used for the WWIII Novel Tournament last year.

So, here we go…..

                                                                        Harpoon                                  CMO

Learning Curve                                                 5.0                                         4.0

CMO is just so intricate and complex. It takes an extremely long period of time to learn the basics. Developing proficiency in commanding air, sea and land forces requires even more time and dedication. Harpoon, while complicated in its own right, doesn’t require a semester of 500 Level classes to master it.

Playability                                                        4.7                                        5.0

Close category but at the end of the day, CMO offers more options of play. Recreate conflicts or create new ones. Explore the hundreds of player-created games in the scenario community, or just spend hours in the database learning the ins and outs of practically every weapons system or platform known to man.

Replayability                                               5.0                                          5.0

Each game redlines this category.

Realism                                                          4.9                                           4.8

Harpoon and CMO scored almost perfect here, with only fractions of percentages removed for tony slivers of inaccuracy or annoyance. For CMO it was the land war debacle, while Harpoon suffered from a lack of earlier Cold War era scenarios, ships, aircraft and platforms. Harpoon also could’ve used some land-based strategic nuclear weapons. Just sayin’ 😊

Scenario Editor                                             4.7                                          4.7

Both games sport 16 Inch guns for scenario editors. When it comes to editing or creating scenarios, CMO and Harpoon are unrivaled in the options they offer to the player. Having said that, each game has a few things they can do better. For CMO, it’s the LUA knowledge necessary to create special events or add some options to a scenario. Newsflash: Not every player can (or wants to) learn how to do code. Improve the event engine please. Harpoon, on the other hand, has the usual computer game scenario editor wonkiness. Crashes at the worst possible moments and an inability to handle exceedingly large scenarios.

Final Scoring                                               24.3                                         23.5

2022 World War III Video Game Tournament Winner: Harpoon


6 Replies to “2022 WWIII Video Game Tournament Championship”

  1. It’s an outrage – I say! The young Padawan deserves to beat the old and creaky master! 🙂 OK just kidding. I will quibble that you don’t need to use Lua to create events equal or better than Harpoon did… but anyway…

    Thanks Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The master had a few tricks up his sleeve. 🙂
      Really? I need to sit down and tool around with the event section. We both know how much fun that is.

      My pleasure! Thanks for checking in

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As I said before, you chose the right branch of Harpoon. The Classic branch had a much cleaner code base than II/III (and that was not counting the unfortunate decisions Three-Sixty Pacific made on extended/expanded memory and hardware interrupts for II that were quickly depreciated and ultimately disabled by Microsoft, and uncorrected by Three-Sixty Pacific before it went under).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Seems like Harpoon was really hamstrung by bad decisions on the part of some of its publishing companies. I guess that’s what happens when too many cooks are in the kitchen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Probably, but they were also at the tip of the spear when it came to PC gaming. Lots of others learned lessons by watching them:
    Good judgment is based on experience, experience is based on bad judgement.

    Liked by 1 person

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