Grey Goo Review - Duck, Duck, Goos

Grey Goo Review - Duck, Duck, Goos

Petroglyph Games' Grey Goo brings an incredible story to life, one base-building exercise at a time.

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I seem to be the only person I'm aware of who was decidedly underwhelmed by the game. It's not bad, but it feels like its main claim to fame comes from near-total lack of competition. The game feels clunky in controls, there is very little variety in units, with Betan and Human unit rosters being nearly identical (two shitty starter units, the Tank, the Artillery, the Big Slow Gun, the Scout, the Anti Air, the Fighter, the Bomber), no active abilities, troubled pathfinding, small number of upgrades, somewhat uninspired campaign mission design, etc.

If it came out 10 years ago, it would be decent enough, maybe 7/10 material, so to speak. But as it stands, it feels like a pool of slightly muddy water in the middle of a desert that is the RTS genre - not that great, but you're parched and really don't want to drink your own piss...

Typo (well, two, actually): it should be

"real-time strategy":

not

"real-time strategy;"

EDIT: Another one: I think you mean 'pseudo-humanoid', not 'pseud-humanoid'

EDIT EDIT: 'unique advantage of being able to climb impassable terrain' not 'unique advantage of being able t climb impassable terrain'

My most recent encounter with RTS was the original Supreme Commander. There sounds like there are similarities and differences... anyone had experience of both? How does Grey Goo compare?

Jandau:
I seem to be the only person I'm aware of who was decidedly underwhelmed by the game. It's not bad, but it feels like its main claim to fame comes from near-total lack of competition. The game feels clunky in controls, there is very little variety in units, with Betan and Human unit rosters being nearly identical (two shitty starter units, the Tank, the Artillery, the Big Slow Gun, the Scout, the Anti Air, the Fighter, the Bomber), no active abilities, troubled pathfinding, small number of upgrades, somewhat uninspired campaign mission design, etc.

If it came out 10 years ago, it would be decent enough, maybe 7/10 material, so to speak. But as it stands, it feels like a pool of slightly muddy water in the middle of a desert that is the RTS genre - not that great, but you're parched and really don't want to drink your own piss...

I'm honestly surprised to hear that, but I can see where you're coming from. Despite a decade of constantly playing RTS games in the 90s, I've mostly only tinkered with anything outside of StarCraft II - which I played quite a bit - in recent years, so I was definitely approaching Grey Goo from that angle. I strongly disagree about the campaign, though. In my opinion, this has an incredibly strong story, with campaign missions that really tie it together. Now, if you're looking for the next SC, as I mentioned, this is not it. But if you just want a solid 20 hour campaign with a sci-fi-trope-heavy story, Grey Goo is where you want to be.

mjharper:
Typo (well, two, actually): it should be

"real-time strategy":

not

"real-time strategy;"

EDIT: Another one: I think you mean 'pseudo-humanoid', not 'pseud-humanoid'

EDIT EDIT: 'unique advantage of being able to climb impassable terrain' not 'unique advantage of being able t climb impassable terrain'

Eep.

EDIT: EEP.

EDIT EDIT: EEP!!!!

Thanks for the notes, I've fixed them all.

Encaen:

Jandau:
I seem to be the only person I'm aware of who was decidedly underwhelmed by the game. It's not bad, but it feels like its main claim to fame comes from near-total lack of competition. The game feels clunky in controls, there is very little variety in units, with Betan and Human unit rosters being nearly identical (two shitty starter units, the Tank, the Artillery, the Big Slow Gun, the Scout, the Anti Air, the Fighter, the Bomber), no active abilities, troubled pathfinding, small number of upgrades, somewhat uninspired campaign mission design, etc.

If it came out 10 years ago, it would be decent enough, maybe 7/10 material, so to speak. But as it stands, it feels like a pool of slightly muddy water in the middle of a desert that is the RTS genre - not that great, but you're parched and really don't want to drink your own piss...

I'm honestly surprised to hear that, but I can see where you're coming from. Despite a decade of constantly playing RTS games in the 90s, I've mostly only tinkered with anything outside of StarCraft II - which I played quite a bit - in recent years, so I was definitely approaching Grey Goo from that angle. I strongly disagree about the campaign, though. In my opinion, this has an incredibly strong story, with campaign missions that really tie it together. Now, if you're looking for the next SC, as I mentioned, this is not it. But if you just want a solid 20 hour campaign with a sci-fi-trope-heavy story, Grey Goo is where you want to be.

That's just the thing - I play RTS games for the campaign. And I was so bored of the Grey Goo campaign that I quite at the 4th mission of the Human campaign. The game just felt tedious. The story was fine, but the gameplay and the mission design just didn't do it for me. At one point I realized that I started viewing the game as a chore, something to slog through to get to the story bits. Then I turned it off and went to watch the cinematics on Youtube.

I think my issues stem more from the design of the races than the actual campaign. It felt like the early model of what a finished RTS faction would be - feature-poor, limited, boring. Like they came up with a few decent ideas, but failed to build on them and around them. Which is in general the problem with Petroglyph - most evident with Universe at War. Another RTS, again with some interesting and innovative ideas, but ultimately lacked followthrough and wasn't a very good game. The main difference is that UaW came out while the RTS genre was still pretty strong, so it was overshadowed in comparison, while GG is competing against pretty much nobody (well, Starcraft 2, but that's a different can of worms).

Interesting, I am just not sure if I would be interested in this game. The last RTS I really enjoyed was Total Annihilation and since then RTS games haven't captured my interest.

Considering that I've never been much for the rush-happy RTS games - then this game, with its much more slow and meticulous style, focusing on constant ressource gathering and exploration - is making me happy in all kinds of fun ways.

The concept of epic units is straight out of Supreme Commander - and I loved that game. The interesting variations in base building ways and terrain navigation... oh daddy wants

I've been enjoying this game, i'm a fan of the more simple C&C style of RTS, the differences between the races are really clear to understand and appreciate, units are what they are and don't have alternate functions or vast upgrade options.

Most of my kind of RTS have been aged out, their online services don't function, Starcraft 2 was my big hope and i did play it with friends a few times, but the communities obsession with perfection ruined it for me, i don't want to block a ramp with a certain combination of rotated buildings, i don't want to follow a suggested build guide.

It doesn't have the vast amount of content of Starcraft 2, but it's very successful with what it does have... it does need a few patches for performance issues however... i also need to convince my friends to buy it.

Definitely wanna give this game a try. I've always been an RTS fan and RTS games used to come out like crazy. But since StarCraft and SC2 came along, they've so dominated the genre that companies barely even try to come out with anything new anymore.

Glad to see someone willing to give it a shot and give us an old-school RTS.

Is this from the makers of earth 2160?
Cause that ohsonovel goo faction is straight up the aliens from that game who also just plop onto resources and split units off of a mother unit that is also the "base" and there's also a faction that has to link its base together just like the grey goo humans.
They even focus on mechs too.

I don't see this mentioned anywhere this game is being talked about so I wonder cause this is straight up polished and refined earth 2160 and not quite its own thing.
The similar base building elements are too distinct and numerous to be a coincidence.

loa:
Is this from the makers of earth 2160?
Cause that ohsonovel goo faction is straight up the aliens from that game who also just plop onto resources and split units off of a mother unit that is also the "base" and there's also a faction that has to link its base together just like the grey goo humans.
They even focus on mechs too.

I don't see this mentioned anywhere this game is being talked about so I wonder cause this is straight up polished and refined earth 2160 and not quite its own thing.
The similar base building elements are too distinct and numerous to be a coincidence.

Given that Earth 2160 has come up a couple of times in a couple of places, I thought it worth discussing a bit. No, it's not the same team. I never played 2160, though, so I couldn't reasonably draw any comparisons without being disingenuous. I apologize if that caused any confusion, but I tend to avoid talking too much about games I've never played. I figure if you've played 2160, you'll recognize the similarities (as you did) while those who didn't play it, wouldn't benefit from the comparison anyways. :)

That said, something like 1/3 of Petroglyph is from Westwood, the studio that more or less invented the whole RTS genre with Dune II, so I will say that it's a little unfair to say that they're ripping off elements of another game that lifted its entire core concept from them.

That's not to say that the comparisons are unfair, of course. That's perfectly reasonable, and worth noting here for veterans of 2160. It's just coming across with a bit of a negative connotation in the few places I've seen it mentioned. When you look at it, though, the whole industry is based on refining shared concepts, and we wouldn't be where we are as an industry if developers weren't able to do this. If you could only ever have one game with Platforming mechanics. Or one game with spike pits. Or one game with base building, things would get really boring really fast. Heck, Blizzard wouldn't even be a thing if they hadn't borrowed RTS ideas from Westwood in the 90s to create WarCraft, you know?

Ihateregistering1:
Definitely wanna give this game a try. I've always been an RTS fan and RTS games used to come out like crazy. But since StarCraft and SC2 came along, they've so dominated the genre that companies barely even try to come out with anything new anymore.

Glad to see someone willing to give it a shot and give us an old-school RTS.

I'm really glad you mentioned this, actually! "old-school RTS" is *exactly* what they were going for. I just sat down with Mike Legg, one of the programmers on Dune II and Co-Founder of Petroglyph here at DICE about an hour ago, and he said exactly that, in pretty much those words, even. They wanted to get back to the roots of the genre. That's why you see a few basic unit types, with very specific roles, and no action keys. They want to avoid the necessity of actions-per-minute micromanagement, and focus on the strategy of base building and resource management.

He readily admitted that it's a game designed for players like us. If you want high-intensity, micromanaged combat with unit abilities and such, you'll probably be disappointed with GG. But if you want something that harkens back to the old days of RTS, with all the modern accoutrements, this is definitely where you want to be.

Finally someone bothered to make a RTS for folks like me that do not like things like Warcraft and Starcraft simply because of all the unit abilities and all that micro stuff.
It may not be the "perfect" game, but at least it is not Starcraft, which is basically the only fleshed out RTS we have had for quite some time now.

I just hope people like it enough so we may get more of this.

Encaen:
Given that Earth 2160 has come up a couple of times in a couple of places, I thought it worth discussing a bit. No, it's not the same team. I never played 2160, though, so I couldn't reasonably draw any comparisons without being disingenuous. I apologize if that caused any confusion, but I tend to avoid talking too much about games I've never played. I figure if you've played 2160, you'll recognize the similarities (as you did) while those who didn't play it, wouldn't benefit from the comparison anyways. :)

That said, something like 1/3 of Petroglyph is from Westwood, the studio that more or less invented the whole RTS genre with Dune II, so I will say that it's a little unfair to say that they're ripping off elements of another game that lifted its entire core concept from them.

That's not to say that the comparisons are unfair, of course. That's perfectly reasonable, and worth noting here for veterans of 2160. It's just coming across with a bit of a negative connotation in the few places I've seen it mentioned. When you look at it, though, the whole industry is based on refining shared concepts, and we wouldn't be where we are as an industry if developers weren't able to do this. If you could only ever have one game with Platforming mechanics. Or one game with spike pits. Or one game with base building, things would get really boring really fast. Heck, Blizzard wouldn't even be a thing if they hadn't borrowed RTS ideas from Westwood in the 90s to create WarCraft, you know?

Well Command & Conquer and warcraft were games I grew up with so I know how it began.
The thing is, if there was a new rts with an insect faction that morphs units from larvae spawning at hatcheries, completely replacing queued unit production you better believe people would point at that and say that's kinda like the zerg from starcraft and I've never seen another RTS doing that specific type of unit production.
I've also never seen another RTS do the whole linked base and blob base thing, those are very specific and setting them alike to broad concepts like platforming or spike pits is kind of disengenious. It's more akin to collecting a flower to throw fire in a platformer.

Not that I have anything against this since it's a very refined version of earth 2160 that improves on its concepts which is cool, it's just like this seems to go under the radar and those features are being presented as totally unique and new because earth 2160 wasn't as popular as, say, starcraft or command & conquer.

Jandau:
I seem to be the only person I'm aware of who was decidedly underwhelmed by the game. It's not bad, but it feels like its main claim to fame comes from near-total lack of competition. The game feels clunky in controls, there is very little variety in units, with Betan and Human unit rosters being nearly identical (two shitty starter units, the Tank, the Artillery, the Big Slow Gun, the Scout, the Anti Air, the Fighter, the Bomber), no active abilities, troubled pathfinding, small number of upgrades, somewhat uninspired campaign mission design, etc.

If it came out 10 years ago, it would be decent enough, maybe 7/10 material, so to speak. But as it stands, it feels like a pool of slightly muddy water in the middle of a desert that is the RTS genre - not that great, but you're parched and really don't want to drink your own piss...

What I felt as well watching EnterElysium play it.

I was also taken what how little action in fights. At times it felt like games like Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings have more.

I also admit that I'm finding myself a little bit underwhelmed. Primarily for the same reason some of the other people mention here, in that there simply isn't enough variety in the units, and not enough rock-paper-scissors amongst them to even make good use of what variety they have. There's just not a whole lot of reason for me to build non-tank units, and that disappoints me. Artillery is hampered by such a long flight time on shots that they won't just miss their target, they miss his line of 10 friends behind him too. Seige units are too fragile to even get to the enemy base most of the time (hampered by a range that is not long enough to support a defensive line in front of them). Finally, the fact that large factories can produce ALL units means there's no commitment to unit type, so scouting feels reasonably useless beyond knowing where their base is. You can't get an idea of what they're producing, because that can change at any time with just a queue shift.

All told, it's not a bad game, and I think it can be improved to a better game. It's just... not there yet.

loa:
Well Command & Conquer and warcraft were games I grew up with so I know how it began.
The thing is, if there was a new rts with an insect faction that morphs units from larvae spawning at hatcheries, completely replacing queued unit production you better believe people would point at that and say that's kinda like the zerg from starcraft and I've never seen another RTS doing that specific type of unit production.
I've also never seen another RTS do the whole linked base and blob base thing, those are very specific and setting them alike to broad concepts like platforming or spike pits is kind of disengenious. It's more akin to collecting a flower to throw fire in a platformer.

Not that I have anything against this since it's a very refined version of earth 2160 that improves on its concepts which is cool, it's just like this seems to go under the radar and those features are being presented as totally unique and new because earth 2160 wasn't as popular as, say, starcraft or command & conquer.

I take your point here. Those were broad strokes that was admittedly pseudo-hyperbole. While I did mention in the review "my modern RTS experience is mostly limited to StarCraft II," specifically referring to the Epic Units, had I known of these other similarities, I would have absolutely made my limited modern RTS experience a bit more of a focus.

I am glad to hear that you can appreciate how well Petroglyph refined those elements it did borrow, though. What Grey Goo does, it does incredibly well. It's just a matter, then, of what you're looking for.

Cryselle:
All told, it's not a bad game, and I think it can be improved to a better game. It's just... not there yet.

Do keep an eye on it, then. When I spoke to Mike Legg, he did mention that the team was back at the office continuing work on Grey Goo. I couldn't get any specifics out of him, but they do plan to continue to support the game for some time to come!

It's nice to see a new entry pop up in the currently-starved RTS genre, especially one that appears to not be as micro-intensive as Starcraft 2. No, seriously - Blizzard's hardcore pushing of insane micro in SC2 is slowly killing the game.

 

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