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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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The sound isn't's not GREAT, mind you, but it isn't bad. The music is somewhat catchy, but a lot of the tracks have almost no bass to them. It's not really any sort of energetic, driving score at all, unless you pay close attention to it. A couple of tracks are exceptions, but you can't choose which tracks are playing off of the CD while you're playing the game; it seems to be a random selection. Something may be off with the relative volume; the music really just doesn't come out with any sort of full-bodied sound at all, at least through the game. Play them through Media Player and crank the volume up and they sound a bit better. An option to insert an alternate music CD would be nice here, since the game is already set up to use CD tracks. One major difficulty I had was that the game would temporarily "stick" when switching between CD tracks, which is really something that needs to be worked on; games have been using CD music for years, and a "hiccup" like that is unacceptable. Hopefully this can be fixed with a patch.

The sound effects are very nice, and pretty realistic too, considering we haven't invented some of the weapons yet. But the autocannons sound like guns, once you keep in mind that you're fairly sound-isolated in your suit/vehicle. The voice of your training officer brought a smile to my face. He sounds like a combination of a sarcastic veteran warrior and a game-show host. Of course, a sarcastic veteran might have been born with a game-show host's voice, and it's not his fault, is it? It's just got the right combination of attributes to be corny enough for a smile, without being so corny to bring on a groan. All of the voices sound to be a nice solid, professional job, and are quite believable; though I'm sure none of the voice actors will be winning any Emmys.

Score: 10/15


Ok, there's a LOT to talk about here, so we'll take it step-by-step. After all, there is a lot of complexity to this game, and several "modes" that it's played in.

The most basic mode is just you, the Captain, walking around. And you're pretty heavily armed for a perspective general; what with a rechargeable laser, a 20mm autocannon, a 4-pack missile launcher, and a guided electromagnetic projectile launcher. Of course, just running around in a huge battle as the Captain wouldn't be smart (if you die, the mission is over) but it's nice to know that you can defend yourself. And besides, you have to be able to be mobile, because without some sort of command and control (Headquarters) unit, that means you have to run around and do things manually. This means that you have to go into your factory and manually punch-in your warbot production orders, and it also means you have to lead from the front, ordering your bots around with a series of generic commands reminiscent of Wing Commander wingman commands. Luckily, you can climb into any large-sized bot and give the same commands from inside there. But the commands can't be applied to a specific bot easily...they apply to all of them that are within your radar's range, unless you add a few extra key presses. Then warbots can receive commands individually.

When you hop into a large Warbot (or remotely-control any Warbot) the visual interface will be the same as you're used to in the Captain. As a matter of fact, all of the Warbots have the exact same heads-up gauges and controls. The only difference might be separate controls for the turret as opposed to movement, and also altitude controls in an airborne bot. By default, the turret can be controlled with the mouse, while movement can be controlled with the keyboard (the turret can also be locked into a "forward-only" attitude, so that the mouse will also control turning the vehicle left and right). But between movement in four directions, turning right and left, and altitude changes, you might prefer to keep your fingers on the numeric keypad instead, given the fact that a lot more keys are right there for the access. But you'll still need the number keys at the top of the keyboard for turning weapons on and off. (A side note here: games like this could have been what controllers like the Sidewinder Strategic Commander would be great at, were they designed as actual joysticks.)

If you're playing as the Captain, or driving a smaller warbot by remote, you can enter buildings and capture them. This is nice, since not many other games allow you to do this. But there's a catch. After all, if you can physically enter a building, so can the enemy; that means there might be some nice bad-guy bots inside waiting to ambush you. Now, as mentioned before, the buildings aren't TERRIBLY complex, but there are enough narrow corridors (and some open areas) to make a nice fight. There are also windows in some of the buildings, and they're big enough to shoot through. Not only that, but the bots behind those windows will be protected by the building's shield system as well. Some of them are big enough to hide 30 or 40 warbots inside...and you won't see them on radar either. And THAT can really ruin an undermanned assault force's day.

Are you seeing how deep this game can get strategically? And we haven't even gotten to the strategic control portion yet. The bad news is that you can only move units to positions inside buildings under manual control, so it can be a pain to set up. But this is the kind of flexibility this style of gameplay brings.

Now, the strategic mode may take a little getting used to. There are two ways of controlling this game in strategic mode: from a Headquarters unit, or from one of your Command Bunkers. There's no overhead map for these; you're viewpoint is first-person, exactly as if you were piloting a warbot. You can select units and give them orders through your field of vision. In a bunker, you can rotate and zoom the camera to a certain degree, while when in an HQ bot, you're limited to what it sees out of the front of the turret. I suppose an airborne bot with an HQ turret could generate an overhead view from high altitude, but to scroll the map you would have to move the bot. You can also give your commands through a satellite overhead map that can be popped up in your field of view. This map can actually be popped up in any play mode, while driving any vehicle. However, it will take up screen real-estate otherwise used for your view of the world, so you'll either want to only leave it up temporarily, or adjust the transparency of the map so you can see well enough through it. As mentioned before, it will give you a lot of pertinent data on all of the visible units and building, so it's incredibly useful to keep around. And when in an HQ bot or bunker, the weapons of your HQ can be fired manually, or left on automatic. In this mode, you can also choose to take over the gun towers you may have built in the base, instead of leaving them to possibly ignore the target you want them to pay attention to. A big "ouch" here is the inability to assign a unit or group of units to a hotkey...the ability just isn't there, and if it is, it's not mentioned anywhere. This HAS to be the first time I've seen anything resembling a real-time strategy game without this feature, and I miss it terribly here. Being able to select your favorite squad leader and jump into controlling it very quickly seems even more necessary in this sort of game than in any other sort of RTS.

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