Wednesday, 25 October 2017

SackWar

EndWar didn't take as long as I thought. It's mostly focused on the multiplayer side, so the single player campaign isn't very long. It's a bit of an odd game. The main feature of it, when it was released on consoles, was that it was an RTS that you could completely control with your voice. You hold down a button and say "Unit 3 attack Hostile 5", and off it goes. They patched in mouse control to the PC version, which was lucky, as I couldn't get the voice control to work at all. I tried with two different headsets, but it just wouldn't recognise the microphone. Ah well, it would have been quite interesting to try it, too. The result is that the game just doesn't quite feel right with mouse and keyboard. It works fine, but you always feel slightly one step away from the action. Instead of an overhead map like a normal RTS, you instead have a unit's eye view of the battlefield, depending on who you've selected. If you have a command vehicle on the battlefield then you can get an overhead view, but you can't control units from there - apparently you can voice control them, and it was supposed to be a more strategic mode, but I couldn't get mouse control to work on the map. Anyway, you take hold of individual units (or combine them into teams) and set them off against the advancing enemy. There's no base building, but you can get reinforcements as the battle progresses (and as you capture uplink sites). Combat itself is a fairly simple rock-paper-scissors affair with helicopters beating tanks, APCs beating helicopters, and so on. There are more units than that, so it's a bit more complex than I'm making out...but not much. You can also earn money by winning battles then use that to upgrade units between battles. As far as I could tell, though, when you upgraded your units, the enemy instantly received the same upgrade, so it was a largely pointless exercise. Your units also get promoted every now and then if they survive battles, so it's worth trying to keep them all alive. The campaign's a bit of a weird one. It starts off in the 'Prelude to War', where you fight a few battles from the different sides, getting to know the ropes and with some exposition between each one pulling things along - it's the usual Clancy hokum story, but it keeps things going. But then, just as it gets interesting, the real war breaks out, and that's essentially the end of the story. The rest of the campaign is just you basically playing a multiplayer game against a couple of bots. You play a series of battles trying to gain control of either the most territories or the capitals of the other player's countries. It's slightly weird, though, as the war is fought on multiple fronts and you just select one of many battles to play each turn with the AI deciding the fate of the others. As a result, it seemed to me that the 'most territories' win was pretty much impossible because even when you were winning all of your battles, the AI was losing for you on the other fronts, meaning you never increased your total territories by much. In the end, I went for the capturing the capitals approach and won that way. I think I fought something like 24 battles all in all, and I only increased my overall territory count by 2 over that time. When you finish the campaign you don't even get a satisfying ending, as the story was effectively over long ago. You just get a little video of your guys raising a flag while some planes fly past. So, a bit disappointing. Maybe there's more to it if you finish with one of the other armies (I played Europa), but I doubt it. So, not a terrible game by any means, but not a very memorable one either. Voice control might have made it a bit more interesting, but without it, it was just meh. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Scorched Planet! It's a '90s 3D shooter from Criterion that I vaguely remember from mags at the time. Worth a look.

I've also played a bit more Doom, which is zooming by. I've completed the first 3 episodes without too much issue, so just one more to go. This is the one that was released later as part of the Ultimate Doom pack, so I'm not sure if I've played it before. I'm also going to clear another game from the PS3 pile - Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves. As you can probably guess from the title, this was a game made by Media Molecule, essentially creating a tiny version of Little Big Planet to be controlled with the Move controller. It's basically a tech demo, but not a bad one. It's a multiplayer version of LBP with one player controlling sackboy as normal, and the other player with the Move controller interacting with the level - moving platforms, pulling levers, and so on. It all works very well as a concept - I don't think they went any further with it in LBP, but I wonder if it inspired their Tearaway game? I was going to play it with Max, but he wasn't that interested, so instead I tried it with the Move controller in one hand and the standard controller in the other. It was fine for the most part, but didn't work terribly well when things got complicated later on. So, I didn't quite finish the game, but I got through 4 out of 5 levels, so that's enough for me.

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