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Reviewed By: Bryan Pizzuti [03.26.02]
Category: Real Time Simulation
Developer: Nikita Interactive (Russia)
Publisher: MonteCristo

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All of you have played a real time strategy game at one time or another, I'm sure. I'm just as sure that, at some point, you've sent in units to get slaughtered, and later said "You know, if I was driving that thing, my guys would have won!"

You and your big mouth are in trouble now, because Nikita Interactive has  just called your bluff. Now you have a chance to prove what you've been talking about, and the name of that chance is Parkan: Iron Strategy. Parkan was developed to be a very deep and all-encompassing land/air combat simulation and strategy game. What that means is you can't really separate the two; you have to be able to do one in order to do the other as well. This holds the promise of complexity and depth never before found in either genre, as well as creating a new genre, which I like to call the "First Person Strategy" genre.

We received the recently released European version of the game, and the word that I've received from MonteCristo is that there will not be any significant changes to the game when it is released in the US in April. And now, on with the review.

First Impressions

Well, now I now how games are released in Europe. Not only that, I wish they released them this way in the US; the UK version of Parkan comes in a DVD case containing the manual and CD, and that's it. Simple, clean, and no boxes with heavy cardboard inserts to try and stuff into the trash. If you buy a lot of games, you get REALLY tired of those huge unnecessary boxes that only contain a jewel box (or just the CD in an envelope) and a small manual that doesn’t even come close to justifying the space that the box takes up. I hope more publishers switch to this method in the US. (This review was written about 2 days before publishers switched to their current small form boxes -Ed)

It was easy enough to jump into a quick single-player map for some quick action...and get my tail completely handed to me, since I had NO idea what I was doing. The game is not simple; if you want to play it, you have to have patience. The controls eventually become intuitive once you learn them, but you have to know they exist first. This brings us to the manual.

Score: 8/10

The Manual

The manual seems cheaply made, but it's not cheap where it counts: the information contained within it. It does an EXCELLENT job of taking you through every part of the game step by step, so I would recommend reading it cover to cover before playing. A keyboard reference card would have been very helpful, but isn't included, though there is a partial keyboard reference built into the game itself. As a matter of fact, it might be a bit better, since it conforms to whatever mode you're in when you call it up. And it will know when you change the default keys as well.

Once you get done with the manual, the tutorials will firm up what you've learned even more. There are four tutorial missions that take you through the basics of piloting your own character, gunnery, building structures and other units, giving orders, and piloting those other units as well. By the time you finish them, you have a clear and firm grasp of the basics of the game, and an idea of some of the more complex tasks, such as designing your own units.

A somewhat large downside to the tutorials is the fact that you MUST finish them in order to get on with the rest of the game; there's no way to bypass them at all. Now for beginning players, this is good, since before they can play the rest of the campaign missions they have to learn how first. But people who have played before might want to skip the tedium, and there's no way to do that. Instead, you have to just grin and bear it.

Score: 8/10

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