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Game Over Online ~ Machines

GameOver Game Reviews - Machines (c) Acclaim, Reviewed by - Magikcow

Game & Publisher Machines (c) Acclaim
System Requirements Pentium 133, 16MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 82%
Date Published Monday, April 19th, 1999 at 03:58 PM

Divider Left By: Magikcow Divider Right

So along comes Acclaim with their new strategy/first person hybrid "Machines". This game is an attempt to incorporate the best FPS elements into a solid RTS title. As it turns out, the main part of this game is played in the standard RTS-style view and the FPS view is like an extra little gift given to the player.

Overcrowding has forced man to look to other planets for expansion. A new method of space travel is discovered which will facilitate quick inter-planetary journeys with the catch being that it is harmful to humans. As a [bandaid] solution, it is decided that automated machines will instead be sent out to explore the new territory. After finding a new planet, the machines then terraform like crazy. Once the planet has been terraformed the machines move on to other planets. Man never ends up going to any of the planets. This process repeats as more and more territory is discovered and all is well in space-land... but wait! Due to some faulty programming (Redmond do you copy?) any time two machines run into each other all hell breaks loose! As a newly developed AI (service pack 1?) it is your job to fight the faulty gearboxes and kick some butt using some of your own machines.

There are three different modes of view in this game. One view positions you right above the ground in a ghost type FPS view. From here you will be able to conduct battles with ease as I discovered. Next there is the classic RTS overhead view like Warzone 2100 including rotation and all the other usual tricks. The last of the view options is a real FPS perspective. You can't do much in this mode expect shoot, turn, move, steal, and drop mines. The bad part about this perspective is that you have no control over your other units which leads to a lot of frustration when you're getting blown to bits as your army sits behind you waiting for orders.

The controls for "Machines" aren't that difficult. The veteran FPS and RTS player should be able to jump into the action right away. The usual shoot and move commands are all provided. Some units such as commanders have special abilities enabling you to heal units and do other things which really come in handy when you are stuck in a tight spot.

Gameplay follows the standard RTS recipe; You build new structures, harvest resources, and research technologies. To harvest you use a locator, which is a small unit that acts like metal detector - alerting you of any areas that contain raw materials. The next step is to build a mine on top of this location, throw in a few transporters and ta da! You are all set for raw materials. Unfortunately these raw materials are not immediately useable. First you have to transport them to a smelter and break them down into BMUs (Building material units) which are also used for constructing units. The building system is pretty straightforward: There are labs and factories in two flavors - military and civil. Other options include communication towers and turrets.

Once you have set up your infrastructure, then comes the fun part. Your army is composed of 55 or so different units. From tanks all the way to huge walking things called "gorillas" that look like power ranger robots, you are equipped for battle. And of course you can't forget your civil units such as the spy who steals technology, a builders that... umm builds, and research people who research new tech.

The sound in this game isn't anything special. You are provided with the usual directional audio effect to let you know where the action is at. The voices for the machines just get on your nerves after a while. I suggest muting them if you really start getting annoyed.

The campaign mode is one sided. It includes about 20 mission playing as the good machine. I found it disappointing that you can't reverse roles and play the blue machines instead of the red ones. Multiplayer mode has the usual TCP/IP options as well as support for The Zone. Four human players controlling different machines can go head to head and you can adjust various aspects of the game such as tech level.

The downfall of this game lies in its AI and variety. The enemy units don't really look too different from your own units. You would think since Blizzard put out Starcraft other companies would take the hint. AI suffers because of its point to point navigation system. The majority of your time is spent yelling at the idiotic machines as they sit there happily ignoring your mouse clicks. Even if a few machines start to move it takes forever for them to travel usually resulting in a lost battle that you could have easily won.

Bottom Line - This game had the potential to make a big splash in the sea of RTS games. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to expectations. At least it brings a new way of playing RTSs with 3 different view types instead of one.


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