By Kieron Gillen on November 8th, 2008 at 8:42 pm.
I noticed the Iron Grip: Warlord demo has gone live, weighing in at about 400Mb or so. Now, we’ve mentioned Isotx regarding their game manager/mod-updater thing CrosuS, but bar a name-check, I didn’t really pay any attention to this. I’ve been playing it solo for half an hour and it initially appears to fit into the Left 4 Dead co-op Zeitgeist particularly well. It’s basically Co-op Counterstrike with splashes of Team Fortress 2 meets Tower Defence. A brief overview, some initial tips and assorted thoughts beneath the cut…
You and your friend (computer controlled or fellow humans) play as The Atelian Militia trying to defend their settlements against waves of soldiers from the enormous Confederacy. They enormously outnumber you and as you progress increasingly impressive engines of war fill out their ranks – I managed to survive as far as an enormous spider-legged walker tank which chewed us up constantly. The Militia have two advantages, and taking advantages of both require you to spend cash. Firstly, you can upgrade your weapons and stats, improving your survival chances. Secondly, you can press “G” and skip to a top down RTS mode where you can throw down turrets, supply centres and traps.
Game continues until one side or the other’s morale runs out – its rate of deplenishment can be increased by the Confederacy destroying the Militia’s stronghold (Which can be rebuilt for money) or assassinating the Confederacy’s officer when he eventually turns up.
In other words, you spend your time running around, trying to maintain a defensive line and thin out the opposition’s ranks at choke points (lobbing Molotov cocktails is an agreeable street-fighting tactic which really works) and working out what to spend your cash on. And it’s compelling enough that I’m going to try and talk other RPS guys into giving it a shot, as it differs from Left 4 Dead by being totally rock hard in single player with bots. As in, I’m getting annihilated.
(If you want to play, the best thing I’ve worked out is spending your initial cash on a light machine gun and a bazooka-thing. The former is needed to replace the basic totally-useless musket, and the latter essential when the tanks turn up – and if you don’t have the cash to buy it at that point, you’re basically screwed. I have no idea if it’s good tactics for winning – as I haven’t – but at least it keeps you alive when you figure out what’s going on)
It differs from Left 4 Dead in another obvious way – it (perhaps understandably) lacks the polish which Valve bring to table. My most regular annoyance is that when switching to weapons, it works on a Half-life-esque repeated press of numbers to skip between those in the same category. Which is fine, but when a single press of three – the general weapons – will bring up the aforementioned useless musket, it makes quick responses to enemy threats somewhat tiresome. Having the better guns appear on the first click would be a clear improvement. Equally, graphically it’s not exactly cutting edge either – which is a hard thing to critique an indie game of, but when you go first person and a realistic look, it becomes a small issue. Still – it’s totally fictional, and I’m quietly impressed by the world-building inherent in it. It kind of recalls a magicless The Red Star.
That a primarily multiplayer game had me trying with bots repeatedly when I’m starving and should be going downstairs to bully my lady into finally watching The Killer does suggest there’s something there. If I manage to get the RPS crew to go in en masse and it impresses us, I’ll post more. Until then, the demo’s here, and if it takes your fancy you can unlock the game for $24.95.