If there is a genre that really lacks great games on the Playstation it is the real-time war strategy division. The reason is that these kinds of games fail to make it on to the PSX is that they play so much better on the PC. Computers are more capable of handling the multiple task nature that comes with these games. The only notable mentions that have crept onto the home console are the Command and Conquer games. Well for all of you wannabe generals and tank commanders out there, Eidos has brought you a present in the form of Warzone 2100 and it delivers.
The plot is very stereotypical. In the next century there is a major nuclear war in Eastern Europe and Asia. North America forms an alliance to protect itself, but in weapons malfunction shoots off its nuclear load at all major cites and creates a nuclear winter. A small underground unit forms in an abandoned military base and begins its search for Pre-Collapse technologies. Of course it is not that easy to get these tech goodies since they are being defended by people with lots of firepower. Hence the Warzone.
For those of you who do not play PC games and are not familiar with real-time combat it is just that-a bunch of fighting where the teams in battle do not take turns (like in turn-based combat). You as the master general have to give orders to each unit as well as build factories, develop new technologies and weapons, and build more units to send out. Sounds busy? It is. Fortunately the map moves very quickly so that you can zoom around taking care of everything. The up side is that the AI of the units is really good and customizable. You can have one unit that will attack until they die kamikaze style and another that is more conservative. The down side is that there is a constant need to go back and forth, which can get frustrating and tedious. Also, since there is so much to do watching the action can take a back seat to building and designing.
The fun of the game is not really in the action though. It comes from the adrenaline that it takes to operate three of four different happenings at once. You have to be making sure you factory is producing units, while attacking a fort on the other side of the map, and defending your home base by building gun turrets. And since it is real-time, you have to move fast because you can be sure that the enemy isn't taking his sweet ass time. This leads to fast gameplay and complex strategy, two things combat gamers crave. One feature that I particularly enjoyed was the ability to design vehicles using the parts found on the levels. This is very simple at first but with each new level and development comes more and more different kinds of vehicles which then add to the complexity and strategy of the game.
The major flaw that I found in the game was in its interface. For a game that is mainly based on its interface I think the controls could have been a little more intuitive. It is a bit hard to select the vehicles, and if a mistake is made, it usually means that the unit that was just moved across the map would come back to where you just clicked. It is frustrating that such exactness is demanded when the controls are so jumpy.
These games have a reputation for being very addictive. That is why PC people do not leave their homes or sleep at night. And with 3 difficulty levels and a whole slew of missions, Warzone 2100 is no exception. It is a game that progresses and gets more and more complex so the novelty will stay fresh even with its stale plot. So, if you have never given the real-time strategy genre a try, check out Warzone 2100. It is a good combination of action and strategy. Perfect for people who are looking to get their feet wet in this new genre.
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