C&C clones, once the scourge of the gaming community,
have been relatively few and far between in the past few months.
The year 1998 itself was a pretty poor year for the RTS games as
well, with very few highlights (Starcraft, Mech Commander). The
eagerly awaited C&C Tiberian Sun continues to be delayed, so
what's a gamer to do? Warzone 2100 is the best answer to that
Eidos has put together a game that definitely opens up
the 1999 RTS game market with a bang. Combining gameplay
styles similar to Total Annihilation with 3D graphics similar to
Wargames, Warzone 2100 has a lot of potential.
The plot places the game in the future, as the world
wakes up from nuclear winter. Your forces have emerged from
underground and you will lead them toward recovering artifacts to
rebuild civilization. You're not the only faction, the rival New
Paradigm is out to make sure you don't make it. Not to mention,
there'll be mercenary scavengers to worry about as well.
The isometric view many gamers witnessed in
Wargames is also used here. There's similar controls over the
views so you can spin around the action and change the position
above the map. It moves very smoothly so camera control is easy
to use. The terrain is well rendered, but neither it nor the units
have very much detail to them. Humans are very tiny, so they're
basically three or four pixel sprites. Fire, fog, and the standard
complement of 3D effects are here. The smoke could be a little
more interesting, but nonetheless it's good environment for a RTS
styled game. D3D, Glide, and software rendering are your choices
with a few different resolutions up to 1024x768.
The audio can be a little boring at times, but it does help
to create the environment. It's just lacking a real grabbing appeal.
Weapon effects sound too much like kids toys then high powered
attacks. It uses cd audio as well, so there's some decent
background music. There's plenty of effects, they're just missing
the punch to stand out.
Gameplay is not real unique, but it does stray a little
from the usual RTS roots. Resource management isn't very
detailed in WZ. You gain your energy from oil derricks, but they're
unlimited and you don't harvest it. It does do a better job when it
comes to unit commands. You have many options for movement,
including having the unit retreat for repairs or changing its attack
range. Although this increases possible ideas for strategy, versus
the computer, it still comes pretty much down to rushing with mass
troops. Control over your units is a little weak, as they tend to have
a mind of their own, which for the most part is useful. Units like the
repair vehicle, will automatically carry out duties without human
intervention. Units will also break to intercept incoming enemies,
but it still works better for you to co-ordinate attacks yourself.
Warzone has one of the more innovative elements in an
RTS in recent times. Instead of Total Annilihation's
download-a-new-unit method, WZ uses an ingame unit builder. It
works just like unit creation in Alpha Centauri did. Artifacts gained
from destroying enemy bases, allow you to gain new technology at
the component level. This lets you mix and match parts to create
over 400 different units. This definitely adds quite a bit to a
somewhat stagnant genre. The technology artifacts also work for
buildings, allowing you to upgrade to improved structures as you
gain more advanced technology.
Another interesting aspect of the gameplay is that many
of the levels use the same base. All your developments at your
primary base along with your units will remain between missions,
so you'll usually have a strong jump off point. This definitely gives
it more of a campaign feeling since your accomplishments roll
Multiplayer is great as well, supporting all the usual
bells and whistles. It's filled with a few different games, more than
your usual old RTS. With up to eight players, it meets the bill for a
good online RTS. It also allows you to do speech with the others
playing with you which is quite nice. No lag at all on my 56k
connection so most should do fine with the multiplayer.
It's a little too bland to be a real attention getter, but
since we've yet to see a decent RTS game in quite some months,
this one does a good job. I know C&C2 should be coming soon, but
until I see it, I'm playing Warzone!
Highs: Alpha Centauri-esque technology progression is
cool, good multiplayer features
Lows: graphics are a little dull, unimposing sound effects