Review by Veylon

Reviewed: 03/12/02 | Updated: 03/12/02

Inflexible, but not too bad

I am a fan of strategy games, be they Real Time or Turn-based. My original impression of this game was that it was like Total Annihilation, but that faded quickly.The game is NOT 3D, it is sprites on tiles, like Warcraft.

It seems very odd for Interplay to make a game this way when they lavished so much effort on graphics and sound.

I thought the plot line was odd as well: A nuclear war breaks out and the third world gets pretty much wiped out. America, Europe, and the USSR are about all that survive. Only two nations/alliances are left to battle it out. I forget their names, but it's basically an east/west split, with the West having Mechs and AI and the East having clones and lots of tanks and troops. The manual makes it pretty clear that this is not a game of Good vs. Evil, it's a game of Worse vs. Worst, with no help telling which is which. No good guys here!

The game balance seems to be skewed in favor of the East. It is very hard to win as the Western side. The mechs are weak and poorly armed. The tanks of the East are quite good, however. Each side has it's own super-weapon of sorts. The west gets some kind of plasma cannon. The east gets nuclear missles. The missles are my favorite weapon. They make the later campaign levels bearable. They are fairly cheap, once researched, and reload after a while. They have infinite range and are unblockable. I haven't gotten far enough on the Western side to use their weapon, though.

The missions quickly become all but impossible. After a while, the enemy gets invisible units. Your units will not fire upon these units unless you manually tell them which tile to shoot at. This is very frustrating. On the upside, if you can capture the enemy's vehicle that causes invisibility, you can use it to make your units invisible.

Battles are a fairly simple affair: Mash the armies together. The computer picks units randomly. You can choose your own. This simple difference ensures human victory in anything remotely resembling fair odds. The planes are prettly lousy, except for recon. Minelayers can be used to build mines to destroy your enemies. One feature I liked: The scatter button. By pushing ''X'', all selected units run away from the common center. Unique, anyway.

Building is done by purchasing a construction vehicle, driving it to the construction site, and turning it into the building. The only problem is that this vehicle CANNOT be transported across water via transport. This makes any expansion across a river, lake, ocean, or to an island impossible. There is an HQ that builds building vehicles and misc, a vehicle plant that also builds planes, a cyborg/clone plant, a research center, a power plant, air control station, some defensives, and the special weapons. All can be commandeered by sending soldiers inside. These are then your buildings.

The sounds were pretty good. The music has been described as unlistenable. There are about a dozen tracks of OK music that has no relation to anything warlike. There is some jazz, some hawaiian, and some more. I wouldn't advise listening to it while playing.

There is only one resource: ORE. It is apparently used to build everything. To get it, one must build mines at the appropriate location and have trucks (or transport planes) bring it to the refining facility. How efficiently this is done is usually the difference between life and death. The AI often blocks the truck routes, defeating itself. This is your only hope on some maps.

Ratings:

Gameplay: 6/10
Good: Simple, Intuitive
Bad: Doing the whole tech tree every level. Building Power Plants, playing on a grid. Weird weapon ranges. Awkward loading troops in transports. Managing the constant traffic jams.

Sound/Music: 7/10
Good: Voices, Tanks, Explosions
Bad: Music has no relation to the on-screen action

Graphics: 8/10
Good: Everything looked pretty nice. Tanks leave tracks when they drive over mud. Troops can be run over.
Bad: Don't understand relevance of opening FMV or subsequent FMV's.

Plot: 7/10
Good: Aversion to Good vs. Evil conflict.
Bad: Nuclear war hitting everthing EXCEPT the superpowers needed some more explaining.

Challenge: 9/10
Good: Sets you up with bad starting positions that expose you to enemy fire. The enemy uses planes to bring troops to steal your buildings. You actually progress and get new available tech when it is useful.
Bad: Why don't I get an invisible field generating truck? Because I'd use it to beat every level. Horde factor. The enemy gets many times as many resources as you, but is defeated because the AI makes poor strategic planning. Finding that one last enemy (occaisionally invisible) in order to beat the level.

Overall: 7/10
I personally liked the game, but it has many flaws. One odd note: The power plant can get cheap add-ons to slightly boost the power. This is a nice feature if only a little more power is needed, but you are short on cash. This the kind of realism most people don't like in games but I do.

Rating: 7

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