Finishing the campaign mode with a perfect five star score is hard. This is how I did it.
Guide to Finish Campaign Mode with Five Star Score
How to Win the Last Mission
I found I was able to finish the game, but not with five perfect stars. But after a lot of practice and honing the reflexes, and techniques, I figured out one way to do it:
- Allocate your planes correctly. In this map you need to take out two surface ships in quick succession that are real beasts of 5+1 power, meaning you need all, repeat, all of your F18 Super Hornets loaded for blue/surface attacks and ready on deck (after the first wave of air attacks). This means that instead it is actually your A6 Prowlers that need to be rigged for air combat whenever possible and sent on air attack missions, to spare the F18 Super Hornets from getting worn out and needing repairs at the crucial moment of need with the ships. This also means a pair of your three S3 Vikings will need to be ready and loaded for Electronic Warfare at all times when not searching for subs. Additionally, do not send your helicopters on any scanning missions, period, as you will also need all four in back to back submarine attack missions. If you have any gaps in your S3 Viking scanning coverage, you can cope with it if you are quick on your response.
- Keep your planes on deck. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep any of your planes down below in the hangar and win this mission. And it’s not necessary. Top tip: always keep a red plane on a catapult for air intercepts, and you can use Elevator 1 simply as a parking space for some of your blue/surface F18 Super Hornets while using Elevators 2, 3, and 4 for all the repair needs. I’m sure you have figured that out by now. Anyway, the point is, you are definitely going to need to scramble your ten blue/surface F18 Super Hornets in a hurry, so you have to keep them handy.
- Prioritise your EC2 Hawkeyes. When they need to come in to land, make sure you get them to jump the queue and refuel them ASAP. You need long range blue/surface scanning for the extra warning. When both of them need refueling at once, prioritise surface scanning. Like with subs, if you only get a warning about a red/air attack in the last few seconds, you can respond in time if you have got everything on deck ready and tidy.
- Repair your planes as soon as it is quiet, when they don’t ‘need’ it. When the sh*t hits the fan and you need to launch a dozen planes quickly, you won’t be able to avoid having a couple that need repairs at the worst possible moment, but you can definitely avoid having most of them needing repairs. Thankfully the incoming 5+1 surface ships move quite slowly and you may actually have time to land an F18 Super Hornet and get it back up on deck, to a parking space, loaded, to a catapult, and launched in time. But you will not be able to do that over and over again.
- This mission is the culmination of your skills in managing your queues. Your landing queue especially needs your complete attention. It is going to be full a lot of the time in this mission, meaning that one plane will smack down and needs you to click it away to a parking space immediately or else the next one is about to pile straight into it. Boom! Explosion. There goes your five stars. For this, really you can only practice. Practice knowing the game’s timing of when the plane becomes ‘clickable’ on deck, and practice knowing the paths that they take to taxi there to avoid blockages (if two of your planes bump into each other and stop and reverse in this mission, you are screwed). Practice keeping certain planes in certain areas (like I said I keep two/three red planes in the top left corner+catapult at all times, and blue on the rest of the spots, Vikings and Helos at the back) and practice recognising the silhouettes and names and knowing which plane is going to go where and what you are doing with it next. That way your landing queue is just a matter of clicking twice, with no thinking involved. Simply execute the patterns you have memorised. The landing queue runs so quickly that you don’t really have time to think. I suggest any plane that comes down needing repairs go immediately to Elevator 3 (or 2 if in use) and as above if there is another F18 Super Hornet coming down straight after it you may as well send it there for repairs too, and make the most gain out of your limited attention being spent on managing that Elevator. Practice managing your attention. When you practice, practice doing things as quickly as possible with minimum number of clicks. Practice this mission over and over again to see what attacks come and when.
- As part of your practice, also get familiar with calling down your aircraft for landing early. As early as possible. This gives you perhaps ten extra seconds for parking and repairing, because you never know when that one plane or helo is going to appear on your screen belching black smoke just when you needed to reload it. Buy yourself time by Queuing missions and launching them quickly and calling down for landings early.
- Hotkeys are 1, 2, 3, and 4 to control the elevators. Use them.
- Don’t use launching or landing cameras. Keep your attention on the wide picture.
- Finally, maybe this goes without saying, but don’t ever send a plane out when it is smoking and needs repairs. If you get a rescue mission pop up and mess up your game-plan, you are screwed. Absolutely not worth the risk in this mission.
In summary, while this mission seems impossible at first, it is just a matter of practice. When you have played the campaign a few times and spent some time doing Survival mode (for me it has been about 20 hours of game time) you will figure out how to be really, really, really quick on all these things. Getting planes from A to B without bottlenecks and reversals on deck. Being able to click a plane on the exact second it has parked itself and is ready for reloading. Getting ahead of your launching and landing queues, acting, and not just responding, because responding takes thinking time and the game will blow something up if you think too much.