A few months ago when 2008 was reaching the end of its run and giving out its final requests and is now a diminishing speck on the nostalgic and busy existence that is our life I posted a review looking back at G-Police; a game from the 90's I felt was good but not appreciated as much as It should have been; the G-Police review is linked bellow
You wonderful people at the Escapist forums replied with some great tips on how to improve my reviewing, it was received very well and I decided to have a crack at another game from the 90's I felt needed more praise then it was due. I am sorry it took me so long to do this review. University assignments and jobs kept me off here for a while.
The game I have dusted off this time is known as
Terminator Warzone 2100. A Real Time Strategy game where as is the norm in these cases; you command units and aircraft and order them to blow the enemy to smithereens before they do likewise to you. The catch for this game is that you have free reign on what kinds of units you can build to take on your foes.
If my little strike above doesn't give anything away then this will. it's the year 2085 and after a few dozen years of alliances forming and collapsing the USA decides the best way to protect itself is to put all of it's nuclear weapons into space on satellites under the command of
Skynet NASDA in case of an attack, naturally something goes wrong and the weapons fire on everyone else, triggering strikes against the US and causing Judgement day the collapse. Nuclear Winter sets in and a bunch of survivors found Tech Com The Project in the hopes or recovering technologies and rebuilding the world, coming up against The Machines NEXUS in the process, discovering they were behind the nuclear war. Thankfully the similarities to Terminator end as your initial goal is to recover Cyborg technology and then VTOL technology, with no time-travel involved. Thankfully you won't notice the similar to Terminator once you get into the game, it has to be one of the most immerse around.
The argument over Christmas Dinner still had not subsided
As mentioned above: this game is an RTS. It's unique selling point is to allow you to create your own units to fight for you. You can decide on what body to give it, what propulsion and what gun to mount, then to send it off to fight and destroy in your name. Initially options are limited but as you recover new technologies you can not only upgrade your units, but your buildings and defenses to make them stronger or more efficient for example. The game also works more for real time too. Unlike games such as Command & Conquer where each level you must build a base from scratch; in Warzone once you build your base it stays built and you can decide how it can take shape, each level has you fighting on home turf or taking the fight to the enemy. The amount of customization is immense and is only limited by your own imagination. Anything you research stays researched as you move from campaign to campaign, it's an RTS where you really do feel in command of troops as you better equip them and better defend them over time, rather then doing all that for one mission then resetting it the next mission. The fruits of your labour will pay off for good. A bit like having a son and upgrading him with the latest technology to ensure he has the edge in everything, until you may have a Splicer to be put down or a Big Daddy to unleash.
Despite all this it does feel like a bog standard RTS at times, the enemy will do little but rush you all the time in predictable patterns and this allows you to form a solid defense rather easily, and of course you need resources in order to make stuff and mysteriously this is done by tons of oil, which appears to be in abundance around Warzone. Although you can't just strike oil like a toothless prospector; you need to locate an oil pool, clear out whoever is guarding it, plonk down a derrick and defend it: those lovely credits rolling in to feed your war machine; the more you have the more you can build and unlike other RTS games where every unit just has it's strengths and weaknesses. You function more like the scientist/commander in that you can roll out a new tank with a new weapon and body to be tested, allowing you see what really does work! Does it need a stronger body? Can it be faster? How effective is this gun?
Look sarge! A welcoming committee!
Now to help ensure quick and fast playing the developers also input a time limit onto almost every mission so people wouldn't just sit back and defend. However you can easily break the game on timeless missions by setting it down, going away for a few hours and getting tens of thousands of oils and that easily breaks the game. Sometimes time limits are generous but others leave you frantically trying to get to the objective before you somehow fail the mission. Now I don't mind time limits when justified but not every mission gives you a reason for it, it leaves you yelling like Hulk when two hours of fighting tooth and nail to finish a mission suddenly fails for no reason. But it does mean you are always going to be fighting and that's something a good RTS needs, to be action packed, to force you to deal with enemies who want to kill you while you research and roll out a new piece of hardware to drive them off. It evokes the feeling of a proper war, near constant warfare forcing you to micro-manage everything.
This put more to the forefront by the game placing a greater emphasis on sensors and artillery. Although you can build mobile repair vehicles and place them behind your tanks you will find simply trying to steam roll your way through an enemy base will soon see your tanks reduced to enough scrap to build a small town. The game tries to mix things up by allowing you to attach your fixed or mobile artillery to sensor towers and they will automatically fire on anything bad that took a wrong turn close to your base. This also allows you to evoke the feeling of classic warfare by making mobile sensors and using them to pinpoint the location of enemy defenses and pummeling to them into metal salad before you send tanks in to destroy the main buildings. Most RTS are simple point and click affairs but if you get into the mindset Warzone offers you then you will quickly find that despite a more cautious advance you won't lose as many units and in fact you same time by not having to manufacture another legion of tanks. It brings a smile to lips as you can design a battle and attack plan and it does not develop into a big clusterfuck that blights more RTS games and as such feels much more satisfying to boot.
Examples like that show that you do get the feeling that the developers tried to invoke the feel of warfare much better than Command & Conquer, as in war you are always trying to find better ways to defeat your enemy, and so do they. As you advance so do they and while you get special ways to beat them so do they, such as absorbing your own damm units Borg style. Some missions themselves also feel unique such as racing to reach a downed allies transport or trying to defend your base from swarms of tanks while they put a virus into your base and take it over. You feel like they are seriously out for your guts and making you fight for everything. By creating passive units like commanders and sensors you can call down mortar strikes like the fourth of July or focus fire on a turret which may be pinning you, then grinning broadly as your target is found and you can roll in and bring along as much devastation as you need.
You get to see three distinct environments, desert, urban and the mountains, each looking either lust, trashed or barren and each controlled by it's own faction with each campaign building up to you kicking them out of the region before taking all your technologies and moving to help allies out. It provides a wonderful post apocalyptic atmosphere with haunting echoing music which helps you feel like you were the only things to survive the war. Giving you a feeling only Fallout can give and like Fallout war never changes. You do feel like you are alone out here, with so many unknown technologies which leave you wondering what beast of destruction will soon be in your grubby hands.
If only bonfire nights were this awesome...
It's just a shame that you could only build up to 40 units total, although it forces you to take care what you build to consider tactics and means you don't waste time building an unstoppable force sometimes it can cause so many delays as after some great advancement a base decimates your forces and means you need to waste 20 minutes rebuilding; consider the maximum allocated time you get is two hours it can leave you ready to yell for the game breaking flow. this is why you need to make the most of things like sensors and the Commanders, special units which you can attach others who and who help co-ordinate your attacks, it helps in simplifying and making attack groups, meaning you could have artilley firing from a hill top, one team doing suppressive fire while another team flanks or attacks from the rear.Plus once you get the ability to build Cyborgs you suddenly realize they weren't really worth all the trouble: but VTOL's more than make up for it.
Like G-Police the game graphically does appear blocky but does creative rendering rather well, cleverly avoid circular constructs although at times the game looks like it was made out of Lego bricks instead. You can also get tired of having to transverse the same type of terrain all looking the same colour; which is why it was a good thing you get to see different types in different locations. Buildings don't crumble, they get darker before exploding and getting wiped from the Earth for good
However, with an engaging plot; several twists, some dazzling and wonderful ways to come up with tanks and an ever evolving world means that despite being ten years old Warzone 2100 is still one of the most engaging RTS's out there you can find. As freeware it is easy to find; there is still a community dedicated to modding the game called The Warzone 2100 Resurrection Project. Despite looking dated the sight of dozens of VTOL's flying to laser an enemy base to hell or a platoon of tanks pounding away with heavy cannons blowing emplacements to nothingness never loses it's appeal or drool factor.
Get it ASAP. It is an experience you need to see to believe.
PS: As before constructive criticism is welcome. I just hope that I managed to improve upon my G-Police review =) I am aware this one is longer then G-Police; it's a game I wanted to do and felt there was a lot more to mention.