With the success of Total Air War, Digital Image Design's last release, I'm not surprised that their latest game is as well quite successful. Wargasm is a highly entertaining and unique game that ties together elements of Real Time Strategy, Simulation and Action all in one! You are presented with the options of controlling various real life tanks, superbly trained ground troops or the deadliest attack choppers. It's an action/sim fan's dreams come true!
I booted up the game and was pleasantly greeted by an easy to navigate menu system, complete with little special effects here and there. To begin the game, I tried out the training. At this point I was unaware of my options, but it gave me the choice of training as a tank, soldier or chopper. Only one word was visible in my head, awesome. Quickly choosing the tank, the training commenced. The training missions are actually useful in learning nearly all of the tactics used in the game, aside from teaching you the controls you learn valuable lessons about sniping, awareness and many other techniques to use in the game. I thought this was great for people learning how to play (such as myself) because it always seems the problem with simulators is that you know how to control your vehicles, but you don't know what to do with them. All of the training missions have full speech, and when a key is required to be entered, the commander tells you which key to press.
As I stated in the introduction, Wargasm is like the perfect blend of Strategy, Simulation and Action. If you begin the game by choosing "Instant Action" you play through an action type game complete with levels, where the objectives are simply "destroy anything that moves". If you pick the "War Web", which is the main game, you are given the options of choosing various campaigns. I really love the fact that you can customize your own mini-army for each mission. Tanks, soldiers and choppers are all available for the taking. In the same menu you can see how effective your unit will be compared to the opponents, giving you a sense of command as if this were a real mission. Once you have selected a campaign to achieve, the game starts. The first screen you'll see is an overhead view of the entire map (complete with land levels) and different spots to deploy your troops. In this mode (Map Mode) you are able to control your units and send them to various spots simultaneously, it is done all in real time. Explosions and cannon fire are vaguely visible on the map, but they are significant enough to tell you when you need to take over. By taking over, I mean literally taking control of any unit you desire. It's excellent, because as soon as you take control of a unit, it deactivates its Artificial Intelligence and you are in charge. All the options are available that are in Instant Action and Training modes. I found the main game to exciting and fast paced, I raced through 3 missions in about 45 minutes. But don't fret, there are approximately 5-8 missions for every continent in the world. Of course, to continue to the next mission you must complete the current one, but the continent (campaign) is entirely your own choice. So all in all, Wargasm is really a futuristic war game where you control units either as a commander or as a fighter. In either mode, the game is pretty much equally fun, because you are able to view the action in the beauty of 3D while in map mode as well.
The artificial intelligence is absolutely amazing; probably the best I have seen if you compare Wargasm to games like Uprising and Battle Zone. They enemies know how to hide behind trees and mountains, and attempt to shoot you when you are not facing them from long distances. I also noticed that shooting your teammates turns them against you (I learned this the hard way). Fortunately I was able to make one of my units shoot the team member attacking me, and they turned on each other. Although unrelated genre-wise, this reminded of Quake 2, because you can perform the similar "turn on each other" move with the Quake 2 enemies. Another aspect of the A.I, are the movement paths. Unlike most RTS games, the units don't choose their own paths. When you designate a unit to go somewhere, rather than going the fastest route possible, the computer picks the best route for them based on ground levels and enemy ranges. I found this to be unrealistic, because in some cases I would want a unit to take the path I wanted, but the computer would make them do a zigzag around the whole damn map. Despite the fact, you are able to control the units individually, and although it's a pain sometimes, you have no choice.
If you have a keyboard and only a keyboard, 2 words: forget it. The control with a keyboard is horrible. It is very hard to aim up to shoot someone which makes it even harder to attempt to snipe them I wish they made the game sense how much pressure is given when pressing each key, because it's very difficult to get your aiming correct. On the other hand, if you have a joystick, the control is perfect! Since the game can recognize the amount of force given to the stick, you can move your targeting boxes and crosshairs slowly or quickly. In the map mode, the game simply uses the mouse. While I'm still talking about controls, I might as well mention that the quit procedure is "Shift + Q" (just like every DID game), someone asked me this earlier.
As for realism, Wargasm is kind of a mix. At some points in the game it can get highly realistic, and in others, well it can appear impossible to simulate in real life. I'd say the map mode is most realistic aspect of the game (movement issues aside), it's as if you are a commander surveying the entire battlefield. If you are wondering about the vehicles, well the tanks are complete with a great magnitude of maneuverability. You can control the cannon and base of the vehicle individually. The soldiers are realistic in the sense that they move slowly (compared to the tanks); it also takes them a few seconds to work into a run, just like real life. As for the choppers, I thought they were the most unrealistic. I can understand though that the game isn't focusing on choppers, but they just seem rather arcade-like like the one's in the game "Incoming". All the vehicles are equipped with sniper modes for bombarding enemies are long ranges (you'll see in some screenshots the sniper mode).
The graphics are truly outstanding. They just left me with my jaw hanging. I seriously doubt the screenshots can do much justice, because you have to experience the game in motion, but I'll do my best to describe the graphics. The lens flare was impressive, because not like your average lens flare, it was layered. Meaning, the more you were facing its direction, the more intense the flare became. The water ripple effect was equally cool; it even left bloodstains and shrapnel in it. The texture scarring isn't the most realistic, but at least it's implemented. The shadows are unique, because they aren't static size shadows; they actually change dimensions depending on how you are facing the sun. I believe the same effect was used in Interstate 76 Gold. Lastly, the one thing I'd like to mention are the explosions. You get a full taste of what a real explosion is like when playing this game, no space age super novas (ala. Incoming) but real shrapnel pieces flying and great roaring fires. Also, if you get close enough to an explosion it was notable that the vehicle or troop jarred a little to the opposite direction of where the explosion came from. Realistic physics and graphics really make this game worthy. Just about EVERY major 3D Accelerator card is supported in Direct 3D mode, and all resolutions are available as well. You can turn on mip mapping and dynamic texturing within the configuration options. I was too scared to try the game in software, but Snipez tried it in software on his AGP card, so read his review to find out how it performed.
Multiplayer, an area where this game should shine, but it sadly it doesn't. Lag & Ping wise the game is excellent for Direct Play (Microsoft). When playing over the Internet with my 56k modem, I experienced zero movement lag. The only significant instance when lag was noticeable was when the enemies were jerking from side to side a bit. Unfortunately, I didn't find multiplayer to be as good as single player fun factor wise. You basically throw in one troop at a time and see who can run out of units quicker. Perhaps more variants can be created to make the multiplayer factor more enjoyable.
There is little to say about the sound, but it's really rich in stereo mode. You can hear things fly past your head and hear what direction enemies are coming from in the distance. The speech is pretty low quality but again, at least it is there to guide you and provide a sense of realism. I think the low quality is to simulate the speech being broadcasted over a radio, personally I couldn't really tell. The explosions sounds are nice, but sound too similar. For example, blowing up a building should have greater impact on my ear lobes than blowing up a support chopper, but it didn't. Overall, they are well implemented but not above average quality.
I only have a couple of complaints with Wargasm. I wasn't used to the arcade-like feel of some of the vehicles, DID is noted for their highly realistic simulators in the flight sim category. And speaking of flight simulations, where are the air fighters? I would have preferred an F-22 or an F-16 over the Commanche any day. Anyhow, that can't be changed now, it's more of a suggestion than a complaint. :) I also noticed a few minor glitches in the graphics, I am not sure whether it was just my system, but they are visible. For instance, in some heavily populated areas of combat, you can see a few textures switch and flicker. This doesn't really affect the game, but perhaps DID will consider releasing a patch to fix this. (On a side note, I was using a Monster 3D II Accelerator card). The other complaint I have is that this game is a giant resource hog, even more so than F:22 TAW. I was unhappy with the loading times, and often when going into combat mode the game took 3-5 seconds to register all the models and run smoothly. Perhaps DID should have tweaked their 3D engine a bit more to perform better. This is coming from a P2-300, so you can just picture the performance on lower end (sub P200) systems.
In conclusion, whom do I recommend Wargasm to? Well, I recommend it to the simulation fans, the strategy fans and the action fans.. I guess that includes almost everyone. Problems aside, it really is a fun game to play. The campaigns should keep most of you busy for weeks; maybe even a mission pack will come out (who knows). The arcade-like sense does take away from the realism, but it's nice to have for a change. If you are like me and don't like configuring keys, and just enjoy blowing something up, Wargasm's instant actions are perfect for you. Digital Image Design has done another great job with another great game. So prepare your troops, arm your tanks and ready the choppers, this action packed title should be heading your way soon.
Wargasm the first game to implement more than one type of vehicle playable in war time action. This game is an amazing group of new technology graphics, with high-speed action, hundreds of levels and tons of weapons. What more could a game player ask for? This game has got the best graphic engine of all the DID games, which seeing as they have had some good graphics, is pretty amazing. With a multitude of cards supported from voodoo to Nvidia chipsets, to even a not so bad looking software acceleration. I played software on my moderate p2-300 with 8 MEG AGP and it ran as smooth as when I ran it in voodoo. Of course it didn't look as good, this is one of the first games for me with notable compatibility. Among the many effects there is fog, amazing explosions, dirt flying under fire, perfect skies with puffy clouds, shells flying over the frozen snow ground, and beautiful reflective water smeared with the blood of your opponents. There is great radar feature that shows your enemies, yourself and support choppers, but trees, buildings, and other terrain objects are not visible. Only a few graphics bugs occurred like choppy textures and screen cuts but on the whole the graphic engine is the fastest I've seen yet. This game sets a standard for quality, as with most other DID games this truly lives up to their legendary name.
Although very confusing at first, Wargasm could be the next greatest multiplayer game and definitely leads in the war simulator genre. The game is very fast paced some times a little too fast but with the hundreds of single player missions and extremely fast multiplayer, to create some of the most advanced gameplay to date. The controls of this game are almost impossible, it was very frustrating trying to find a manual for the game because even in the tutorials of the game the controls are not discussed. Joysticks and keyboard are supported but playing with the keyboard is even harder. Aiming with the keyboard is extremely hard and will even turn some people away from the game. There is almost no repetition as every level has new opportunities with three types of units.
There is a lack of options to configure this game compared to some. Along with the lack of multiplayer chat, there is one other thing that annoys me; you cannot customize the controls. Why this was not implemented is beyond me, they do however give you a few options none of which suited me (wanted keyboard + mouse). Wargasm is definitely a clone, but it does bring something new to the War Simulator genre, allowing you to fight the battles or control them, or both. This game would have scored over ninety had you been able to control the game with the mouse during the action view and if there was a way to make your own levels.
The sound in this game is pristine, crisp accurate, and original. You can hear the shells of your M16 ping off trees and you can also hear (3d hardware) shells flying from behind you and whizzing past your head. Although the speech sound recorders are not the most talented and emotional ones I've ever heard, there is a tone of speech, I mean for almost every mission there is four new pieces of speech. There is no background music, but the huge amount of sound effects will make up for that, when playing 5-player multiplayer you would have no music playing in the background anyway.
Although there is an amazing multiplayer speed, many levels, many vehicles, in the game for some reason DID didn't put chat into multi! This is so annoying because you can't annoy the tank you just blew away or taunt the helicopter hovering over you while you hiding. All types of connections are supported: Tcp/Ip, serial, modem, and IPX (LAN). This means that the game will quickly implement itself as one of the number one multi games of the year easily because of its wide compatibility.
Wargasm is not the next killer game, yes it is considerably good, even great, but not close to perfect. A lot of the things DID promised to put in were not included which frustrates me. This game could have been game of the year had it been less complex and playable, you will either get addicted to this game or will play for a day and drop It. I definitely recommend getting this game, and playing, but it is definitely not for everybody, not for the hardcore f22 players, or the hardcore Quakers, but if your somewhere in between you will fall in love with this Jewel.