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
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
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
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.