By Alec Meer on January 26th, 2010 at 1:10 am.
Two hours! Two! Hours! Gone, lost to idly clicking on the first link I saw on Kongregate. I should be asleep now, dreaming about [CENSORED] with [CENSORED], wearing a top hat made of [CENSORED]. Two hours! Sigh. Well, at least I enjoyed them. I’m sure someone will be able to tell me Civilizations Wars (ouch – that hurts to say/type) is exactly like some obscure Spectrum title from 1986 that I’ve never heard of, but that doesn’t stop this wantonly wasteful of lives RTS from being a coldhearted delight.
It’s a game of tiny wee warriors tussling over land, the key difference from standard real-time strategy being that any building you grab automatically generates new units for you. (Well, apart from the towers and magic crystals, which instead boost your offensive and defensive abilities depending on how many of your chaps you’ve stowed away in there.) To grab a new building, all you need to do is send enough of your units over to it, hope/pray/maybe even plan that they outnumber the incumbent enemies by enough, and it’s yours. Optionally, you can soften it up with a lightning bolt, tornado or meteor strike first.
That’s about it. Except that sounds nothing like playing it feels. It goes more something like “ok send them there oh now that one’s empty oh god send them back there aaargh get some guys from other there and make them grab that tower and aaargh and now there and here and back there and oh I’ve done it.”
Buildings change hands between your and your AI enemies at incredible speeds, every side throwing and sacrificing their unprotesting warriors in horrific quantities in the name of territorial ownership. Not a single life matters here. Not a dozen lives matter. By the time you burn around 80 fruitlessly, they’ll matter a bit, but only because it’ll take a while to regenerate enough replacements. Your units are made to die; the only reason you’d keep any alive is so that they can die for something else later, taking just enough lives with them first that your next platoon of dead men walking can seize the scene of their demise.
It’s a throbbing, frantic race, but impressively it’s rather strategic with it – pushing enemy buildings into vulnerable clusters, keeping potential enemy strongholds in check with canny spellpower long before you make a grab for them, reinforcing weak buildings of your own rather than hurling everything you’ve got at the nearest unfriendly structure… As a lot of Kongregate games tend to be, there’s an extensive unlock system in there, but at least accessing new spells and buffing up your units fits the flow and learning curve of the game.
Could have done without the level eight or so boss that suddenly hurls unstoppable doom-bolts at me if take too long, mind. Other than that, it’s a raucously fast and happily callous strategy curio, with a refreshingly different control system and a barebones but wonderfully-suited art style. I suspect you’ll enjoy it.