When people think about RTS games in the PC genre, two developers
immediately come into mind: Blizzard and Westwood. Like the two
console stalwarts, Nintendo and Sega, they basically held the RTS genre
in the palm of their hands, fending off any contenders with a constant
barrage of expansion packs, gold versions, platinum packaging and
sequels. It looked like Command and Conquer and Warcraft/Starcraft
would dominate the genre forever as all outside competitors were shunted
out as copycats of either of the two. That is, until a then little
known game called Total Annihilation emerged to challenge the two
behemoths. Unlike Sony's now dominating Playstation coup over the
previous giants, Nintendo and Sega, Total Annihilation did not rewrite
the history books on the RTS genre. It did, however, introduce novel
concepts and interesting conventions that ultimately spurred a slew of
new 3D based RTS games.
Pocket-G's Battlefield aims to capture exactly this feeling. Total
Annihilation introduced the concept of self-perpetuating resources and
the idea of the unit commander. Battlefield capitalizes on these two
features. For one, it is hard to manage a full-scale RTS game on the
limited screen estate that an RTS has. Thus, monotonous or secondary
functions of the game should really be reduced. Battlefield certainly
has this in mind. Units are built and created from one building alone.
This building also refuels the commander and acts as the home base that
one must destroy in order to win the game. The commander unit is vital
just as it is in Total Annihilation. It is the unit used to deploy
troops, working half the time like a Dune carry-all. The commander can
also morph into a robot and engage in combat. Unlike Total Annihilation
though, the commander can respawn and so protecting the commanding unit
is not an absolute must.
The use of an on-screen persona eliminates one chief drawback about
using a stylus to control an RTS title. You simply cannot move your
cursor to the edge of the screen and scroll around the on-screen map.
Battlefield solves this problem elegantly by keeping the camera centered
on top of the commander. Of course, this includes other drawbacks like
the inability to see firefights. Rather than commanding your troops
directly, you build your troops with preset orders. Some of them can be
ordered to stand still and guard, while others can be instructed to seek
out the enemy base. Where you deploy them ultimately dictates how
successful your units will be in carrying out their mission.
The traditional earmarks of Total Annihilation carry over into
Battlefield. Both feature various levels of genuinely challenging AI.
Unfortunately, what are inherited are also the former's flaws. It was
almost universally acclaimed that Total Annihilation's campaign
structure was hardly what one would call a riveting in-depth exercise in
compelling science fiction, especially in light of classics like
Starcraft. The overarching story provided nothing but a mere backdrop
for what ultimately boiled down to one on one duels. The developers of
Battlefield seem to innately understand this and what is left for the
player to go through are various skirmishes. There are no missions or
goals beyond annihilating your opponent. Therefore, any player
expecting even the most rudimentary campaign will be disappointed. I
bring this up because Battlefield commands premium pricing and the lack
of even a simple storyline is a bit disturbing.
Technically, Battlefield works roughly like a top down RTS game. The
graphics seem a bit dithered but a vibrant amount of colors are employed
throughout a multitude of environs from icy landscapes to green plains.
Although the units are not outstandingly rendered, they are certainly
distinguishable from one another at a glance. Coupled with an ongoing
thematic soundtrack and the obligatory sound effects, there is nothing
serious that begs complaint in the technical aspect of Battlefield.
Yet, on the other hand, for a premium title, there is not much to rave
Even the last title to emerge from the Total Annihilation franchise, TA:
Kingdoms, realized that a storyline was necessary in this day and age
for a fully fleshed out RTS game. Homeworld, for example, was
frustrating for some and introduced nothing more than sweeping 3D angles
to view the action from. An immersive story there helped propel that
franchise to great heights. As I write now, the developers of
Battlefield are re-doing visuals and incorporating better multi-lingual
support. It certainly has the technical potential to be thrown at the
mainstream, supporting all three Pocket PC types. I hope they will at
least put some of those multi-lingual skills to work drawing up some of
the literary aspects of this title.
[08/10] Program Size
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer