War Diary: Torpedo
| War Diary: Torpedo

We Brits have a proud heritage when it comes to all matters naval (and not the belly-button kind), so it's a little bit strange to see the Royal Navy's glory days of World War 2 depicted by the Finnish studio Rovio.

Considering that Finland's navy consisted of just 26 ships when the conflict kicked off, it's probably just as well that War Diary: Torpedo focuses on the career of a Royal Navy submarine commander.

That commander, of course, is you. As you don your itchy woolly jumper, oiled boots and grow a beard, you're thrown into the deep end by being placed at the helm of HMS Undaunted, a submarine tasked with disrupting Japanese shipping in the pre-Pearl Harbour Pacific.

While World War 2 games aren't exactly thin on the ground, ones set at sea certainly are, and it's interesting to get a different take on events as you bob up and down on the ocean waves.

Events in the career mode loosely follow real-world happenings, and while things seem a little remote (maybe torpedoing German ships would have hit a little close to home - Germany and Finland were uneasy allies during the first few years of the war against the Soviets), it's the basis for an engrossing game.

Starting out as a Lieutenant Commander you can rise through the ranks, win medals and promotion to bigger, badder submarines by completing the missions that you're given. This is where your tactical know-how comes to the fore, since the objectives are many and varied. One sortie might find you sinking Japanese freighters, another rescuing downed fighter pilots, and more still taking spy-shots of enemy harbours.

If you're expecting a torpedo-filled mix of explosions and pyrotechnics, you might be a little disappointed. While you will often find recourse to put a fish in the water, it's nearly always out of necessity: the threats are so numerous (enemy cruisers, aircraft and minefields to name but a few) that you have to pick your battles carefully.

Steaming in and letting rip at the bad guys is never an option, particularly as in the first submarine you command you've only got four torpedoes at your disposal. You'll also find out early on that even the slightest damage will slow you down, making you easy meat for depth charging. Sneakiness is the order of the day if you want to live to see home again.

If this sounds rather off-putting, the thoughtful guys at Rovio have thrown in an arcade style of play that caters more to the trigger-happy sort. But it's the authentic simulation mode that's the most rewarding. Not only do you have to surface to periscope depth to launch a torpedo (making you more visible to the enemy and prospective targets), you need to consider your target's speed and heading, too.

And once you have launched a torpedo you'll usually need to dive, sharpish, and leave the immediate vicinity to avoid being sunk yourself.

It's this challenge, which changes with nearly every level, that lifts (or dives) War Diary: Torpedo into its winning position. You really do need to think about how you're going to achieve your specific objectives on each mission.

If you need a break from the action, a patrol mode enables you to roam the seas on the look out for anything to sink and there are always radio communiques offering you optional mini-missions along the way.

It all makes for a more thoughtful shooter than is the norm. Granted, War Diary: Torpedo isn't going to appeal to everyone for that very reason, and it's certainly quite slow-paced. But if you want a game that offers you a campaign rather than a skirmish, this is for you.

Up periscope, indeed.

War Diary: Torpedo

While it may look innocuous it's anything of the sort, marrying in-depth tactics with genuine tension