Finally some originality is hitting the Playstation racks in the realm of 2 player games. With Future Cop L.A.P.D., Trap Gunner, and even Diablo people can play with each other in ways they never have before. There are strategy games and fighting games and now by way of The Unholy War there is a great combination of both. With a diverse cast of characters and a great interface The Unholy War will be a staple for strategy gamers and fighting fans alike.
The game puts two different races of warring aliens in combat with each other. There are two modes of play. The first is a straight up one on one combat similar to the team battle mode in many current fighting games. Each person takes a team and tries to defeat all of the enemies on the other team one at a time. This mode features quick games for people who want fast simple action. That is why they entitled it "Mayhem". The other option where the game really shines is a strategic mode where all of the characters are on the board at once and moves in turns. The combat takes place when two opposing players occupy spaces next to each other. Then the screen changes to the combat mode similar to the one in the Mayhem mode.
The diversity of the characters is the most refreshing interesting part of the game. The aliens and creatures in the game are unlike anything I have ever seen in a game. Each character has 3 different attacks using completely different weapons, abilities, and powers. This really adds to the strategy of the game. Place stronger combatants in the front while keeping characters with healing powers in the back to heal each player after battle, or use any kind of strategy that suits you. The game lends itself to all kinds of different approaches to the way someone wants to play. Go on the offensive or try to build up an army before taking on the opponent. The choice is yours. The great thing is that it is not all about placement and strategy. You also have to be quick and skillful in the combat scenes to survive.
Another strategy element is the accumulation of points. On each turn you gain a certain number of points that are used to perform special attacks or to create new fighters. The number of points given is determined by which spaces your characters occupy which leads to fighting over these particular strategic spots. Inevitably the team with the most points will win. The way that points are acquired and used puts just enough strategy to make the game interesting without being too difficult.
This game is not for everyone, however. Most of the game play involves a slow moving strategy and taking turns. It is a lot like chess except it is on a hexagonal board with space monsters. It is not enough action for hard-core action fans, nor is it nearly enough strategy for someone looking for another Command and Conquer. The Unholy War is aimed at an audience who wants a simple mix of the two. It does have some problems, however. In the fighting scenes the control is difficult even with the analog control and some of the match ups are completely one-sided. Flying creatures have a clear advantage over creatures who cannot shoot at them from below. It can be very aggravating if you are stuck with the last if your characters who are not good enough match-ups for your opponent.
In closing, it is imperative to mention that nothing like this game has been made in a long time. It is the only gameboard-style game on the Playstation that is completely original. It is definitely worth a rental or even a buy if you are looking for a multi-player game different than the norm. How often can you use strategic thought in order to plan out an explosive destructive battle where you completely annihilate your friends.
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