Posts Tagged ‘RTS’

Searching For The Young Strategy Rebels

By Alec Meer on April 14th, 2008.

Presumably because I’m still heavily damaged by a weekend of hard boozing and harder dancing in the company of those elements of RPS who enjoy fun, the loose connection between my brain and my typing fingers has dribbled out some stream of conciousness about RTS.

That strategy is on my/RPS’ radar so much at the moment is probably an inevitable result of an Autumn and Winter spent happily gorging on first-person shooters, followed by the early months of 2008 being distinctly short on big-name games. In the sudden absence of fast action snacks, we turned to our long-lasting strategy game rations for survival. It seems to be a trend within the microcosm of PC gamers I know. Where not so long ago there was this daily pile-on into Team Fortress 2 servers, now my taskbar fills with instant messages about playing Dawn of War or World In Conflict. And it’s been ace, not just for the actual playing, but also the post-match analysis, which reaches the sort of insane blow-by-blow detail that would be reason enough for the rest of the world to demand that all PC gamers be rounded up and executed for the good of humanity.
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Retrospective: Ground Control

By Jim Rossignol on November 6th, 2007.


With Massive Entertainment’s spectacular World In Conflict causing some big ripples in the slow depths of the real time strategy I found myself once again contemplating its sci-fi ancestor, Ground Control. This exquisitely unassuming game first trundled onto my PC in June 2000 and ever since I’ve been waiting for a worthy successor. Playing it again in 2007 was an interesting experience. I got to see how it has aged well graphically, despite the relative lack of detail and the low-res 3D, while it hasn’t aged well in terms of pacing and production. It still has a sense of style, but it certainly lacks the high-end bombast and gameplay timing of the more recent game. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking, when reviewing the World In Conflict single player campaign, that Massive had missed a trick or two from their original game.
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A World in Conflict Conflict

By Kieron Gillen on September 5th, 2007.

I’ve been working in PC Gamer’s office for the last couple of days, and with half an hour free at the end of the day, Tim told me to hammer out a blog post for them based around the game of World in Conflict we played at Lunch. Which Tim won. Frustratingly.

Here’s a bit which stands alone out of context…

One of my favourite wins in World in Conflict was on a server where I was on the USA team, and the USSR were on a long winning run. It was close, but they just had a slightly better team. But I suspected they weren’t *that* good, and decided to try something suicidal. They used their artilery well, so – playing Armour – I ignored the capture points and rushed for the backline to harass their support units. Two helicopter units chase me around the backlines as I annoy the couple of support players. I’m killed relatively quickly, but I’ve opened up enough space for my side to just sweep the map. By the time I’ve respawned my army, we’re claiming the final command point. A crushing defeat after a string of such close-victories had the USA scratching their head. I left, grinning enigmatically to find clan requests in my account next time I logged in. Result!

It’s more than a little rushed (I did say it was in half an hour, and it’s hardly a short post) but this is the sort of thing which I’m thinking about doing more of here, as and when the right game presents itself. Clearly the ideal model would be Tom Francis’ incredible diary of his ridiculous Galactic Civilizations 2: The Dread Lords game, which I’m never going to match, but I think it’s a fun way to talk about the actual mechanics of a game – by getting specific and showing the thought processes and all that.

Is it the sort of thing people will be interested in reading? Read it and tell me, will’ya.

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Getting Medieval

By Kieron Gillen on July 24th, 2007.

I meant to post this before I jetted off to the US for a while. It’s a report on my initial impressions of Medieval: Total War – Kingdoms, which may be of interest to humans.

I’ll confess that I didn’t actually give the original game as much of my attention as I’d have liked. I wasn’t commissioned to review it, so couldn’t give it any of my professional time and there was so much else around that was genuinely new, returning to an old friend like a Total War games was relatively down my list. Which is a shame – and serves me right. Getting stuck into the add-on pack is a startling experience, and that it doesn’t include any Carthaginians doesn’t stop me loving it.

That aside, it’s interesting to note that Medieval II was the first time in the Total War series which it wasn’t determinedly pushing onwards. No matter what your particularly favourite is – and there’s an argument that the less-units in Shogun leads to an increased purity to the actual game, rather than wrestling with dozens of very similar unit types – there was an actual step forward every time in the road from Shogun to Medieval to Rome. The advances in Medieval II are relatively sleight, a matter of approach and polish rather than a fundamental change.

From what rumours I hear, the next proper Total War game is about to be announced. What it includes and doesn’t include will have to be picked over. It could be a sign whether it’s reached the position of static maturity, with the future of the series being one standardisation – the standard franchise slow rise and fall depending on a team’s interest – or whether it was Medieval II which was the mistep (in terms of vision), a stopgap stumble when they prepared their next real campaign.

I suspect it’s the latter. Which may be optimism, or may be me knowing something I can’t talk about yet.

Man!

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Hey, it’s the Universe At War Beta

By Jim Rossignol on July 22nd, 2007.

The chaps from Petroglyph have reached that vital testing stage of development with their new RTS, Universe At War: Earth Assault. You can sign up for the closed beta here, and I recommend you do so, because from what I saw earlier in the year this could be one of the most entertaining strategy games of 2007. Hopefully there will be an open beta to follow.

The Petroglyph team, who previously made the fairly average Star Wars: Empire At War, have let the juice of game-glands flow freely on this one. It’s feels colourful and slightly crazed. The scene is set by three alien races invading Earth, each one with its own concept and base-building methodology. Universe At War just seems to be dripping in ideas – stuff like the varied resource gathering could make for some fascinating tactics. The bio-invader aliens, for example, hoover up cows and people for their organic resources, while the robotic aliens need raw metallic materials from cars and other technological devices. You might find yourself defending a herd of cattle to fend off your enemy’s advances, or staking out a car park to ambush the robotic harvesters.

There’s a strong whiff of the Starcraft asymmetric conflict going on, as well as some of the character and silliness of the Command & Conquer series. Petroglyph are all veterans of the Command & Conquer games, so we can expect the kind of polish and ease of play that you find in those games. While Empire At War seemed a bit stiff and constrained by the Star Wars licence, here the development team are clearly enjoying themselves, and just pouring whatever seems funny or entertaining into the game world. There’s a sense of excitement in playing it that I’ve not felt elsewhere for quite some time. It really knows this is a game, and the mercenary sharkmen and titanic walker-robots really testify to that.

What’s more interesting however is the mass and inertia of new concepts that the various alien races bring with them. There’s no ‘human’ faction, so you’re constantly playing with wildly diverse, often completely weird units. The two races I played included immense walking-base style robots that could be modded after being summoned down from orbit, and a networking Protoss-style iPod-theme information tech robots. They played quite differently, and each offered a slew of different tactics. Simply walking my mega-robot HQ into the enemy base was a joy. I was also impressed by the way the game continually opened up with new tech options, making you feel as if there was always something you could do to suddenly change tactics, or to claw back victory from the most precarious situation.

There’s also another black hole bomb in there, which suggests Blizzard, EA Los Angeles and Petroglyph might all be thinking rather similarly about what lies at the top of those tech trees…

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