Strategy Gaming Extravaganza!
The PC Games market is primed to be flooded with a number of highly and not-so-highly anticipated strategy gaming titles in the near future. Many of these are of the World War II ilk that I so enjoy, but there are also some very interesting Medieval and Sci-Fi titles about to be released. Since we here at Something Awful like to cut through the hype put out by the marketing departments of the developers (and regurgitated by their drooling fans in the gaming media) I have taken a long hard look at these upcoming titles. Taking the trouble of having to think for yourself out of your hands, I have rated each game on a scale of how much we recommend you not buy this game. There are some I sort of recommend you buy, but not really, because I don't want you to think we actually encouraged you to buy a game that turned out to suck.
Developer: Altar Interactive
Behind the burned out house is where the Quad damage is on this level!
Concept: Finally, someone is doing X-Com right! If I am to believe Lowtax a lot of the people involved in this game are also the same people involved in the original, but he tends to drink and he tends to lie. The game takes place following a massive alien invasion of earth and it's up to you to put together a team and manage your resources in a global fight to defeat the aliens. Action takes place in full 3D, but it looks to use a system almost identical to the X-Com we all know and love. Notice I said "after an alien invasion", this is like Red Dawn and you're Patrick Swayze, only on a global scale and with aliens instead of Soviets. The down side to this underdog struggle is that the game looks dreary as hell, burned out cities, destroyed houses, it all looks depressing.
The Hype: Fairly low key right now, but I think that owes more to the game still being a good way from release than anything else. Honestly, even if it sucks, the game deserves hype because it is someone attempting in their own way to continue the legacy of a franchise that I thought was horribly botched on the second installment. The thing is it doesn't look like it's going to suck, which while not even close to being a guarantee that it won't, should provide a motivation for a shitload of wankfest articles about how totally rad it is.
What I Say: I've been waiting about ten years for a sequel to X-Com, is this finally fucking it? Because I know you sons of bitches didn't try to pass off that submarine shit fest that had me shooting harpoon guns at Jellyfish as an X-Com sequel. You sure as fuck didn't try to pass off 1950's diner in Candyland versus the muppet aliens (aka X-Com: Apocalypse) as a sequel. If you did try to pass either of those off as a sequel let me know now so I can throw a firebomb into your bedroom.
Our Hype Rating: 9, this game looks better than most upcoming strategy titles and is hotly anticipated in my apartment. Unfortunately it also looks so dark and grimy I think it's going to give me nightmares about being trapped in a Quake level. We suggest you buy this game if you just won the lottery or found a briefcase full of money.
Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin
Developer: Big Time Software
Some T-34s grazing on the steppes.
Concept: Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord was quietly released over a year ago and has since supported a wildly devoted fan base who continues to produce questionably useful mods for the game. I downloaded a couple one time and it took me over an hour to figure out how to get one of them to work, plus they almost all suck. That aside, Combat Mission was groundbreaking as the first good WWII strategy game that was full 3D. It had a lot of quirks and the graphics were pretty simplistic, even for a war game, but it was fantastically fun. What it lacked was a good campaign mode. CM: Barbarossa to Berlin takes everything that was good about the original and sets it on the Eastern Front during World War II. This means a lot more units, even more brutal combat, and hopefully bigger maps and better cities. If my dreams come true they'll actually have a good campaign mode instead of their horribly shitty operation mode that just take a normal battle and make you fight it over and over again.
The Hype: You won't see too much hype for this game in the mainstream gaming magazines. They'll mention it because they're smart enough to realize the original was groundbreaking, but they won't fawn over it like the wargaming sites do. And oh boy do they fawn. The shit they say about Combat Mission and its upcoming sequel are as bad as reading a review of a Super Mario game in Nintendo Power.
What I Say: If you didn't like the first game this game isn't going to change your mind. If you loved the first game chances are you're going to love this sequel. The graphics look somewhat better than the original's (which isn't saying much) and it boasts action on a front that was much more brutal and interesting to me. I really wish that they would get rid of their goddamn "extended battle" horse shit though. It's just extremely tiresome and leaves you without a grand campaign to tie all the fun together for you.
Our Hype Rating: 10, the first Combat Mission was an incredible feat of independent development and distribution. This game looks like a slightly improved version of the same thing, with an all new theater of operations. We ALMOST recommend you buy this game if you're a fan of WWII gaming. On the other hand "man those graphics look dated."
Developer: Freedom Games
A German tank hunter maneuvers next to a building where a squad waits in ambush.
Concept: Sort of a cross between the Close Combat series and Combat Mission, GI Combat is a squad-based real time strategy game set during World War II. It's extremely good looking graphically and the developers claim to be modeling the individual soldiers on a level that surpasses even Close Combat. This translates to you having a squad pinned down by a machinegun and one guy charging forward with a grenade while another guy shits his pants in a trench.
The Hype: There really isn't much hype for this game and I don't understand why. It looks really gorgeous and that usually suckers game magazines in a hurry. It also has secured big-name publishing through EA, which means that EA must not have much hope for it if they're not putting pressure on all these chuckle-heads to shill their game for them. The other possibility, probably the most likely one, is that the game's projected October release date is extremely optimistic and we'll actually see the game on shelves around the same time Israel and Palestine sit down for tea and cake.
What I Say: Who the living fuck is "Freedom Games"? Obviously their name is something of a misnomer if they've shackled their first major title to the oppressive yoke of Electronic Arts. I'll admit that GI Combat looks promising as hell, I'll give it that, but having some pretty screenshots just shows you have a working editor fellas. On the up side, if I decide to buy this game I'll probably be able to find it at Best Buy instead of searching under a rock like I have to do with most strategy games.
Our Hype Rating: 7, the game looks pretty and looks to have even more depth than Combat Mission with Close Combat style gameplay. I've also never heard of Freedom Games, which means that this will probably end up being a sequel to Wacky Wheels that just happens to have a picture of General Patton on the box cover.
Medieval: Total War
Developer: The Creative Assembly
Holy crap, it's a catapult, how totally unexpected!
Concept: Hey, look, it's hit game Shogun: Total War set in Medieval Europe. For those of you who never played Shogun, it was an enjoyable real-time strategy game set in Japan. You had to conquer territories on the island nation, capturing land and resources with which you could build new units for the battles. It was a much more realistic take on the resource collection/troop building model of most RTS games and the battles themselves played out with large troop formations and impressive graphics for a game that used sprites for the troops. The open ended nature of the campaign mode was also very impressive and fun.
The Hype: New units! Siege equipment! Better net play! Sprites of men in suits of armor instead of sprites of samurais! A different map!
What I Say: The hype level for this game is pretty silly high. Yeah, the graphics look better. Yeah, even more units than there were in Shogun: Total War. Still, Shogun was not a life-changing game. It was too easy on even the hardest difficulty level and, for me at least, was one of those games you played constantly for about a week and then threw in a drawer never to play again. Fairly shitty online play definitely contributed to this. Yes, it was a good game, innovative even, but not something that's going to be played for years to come. Since Medieval: Total War is basically just more of the same I'm not exactly pissing my pants over here about it.
Our Hype Rating: 6, Shogun: Total War was really fun for about one week. After you had beaten it a couple of times it just wasn't one of those games that I wanted to revisit over and over again. I think Medieval has the potential to be better, but I also think that there's a face on Mars and that Bat Boy escaped from his cell again. Buy this one if you're a SCA chain mail nerd.
Hearts of Iron
Developer: Paradox Entertainment
It's a mapstravaganza! Yeah, I know, I've seen more exciting interfaces in Microsoft Access. OH NO GAMESPOT OWNS THIS SCREENSHOT! WOE BETIDE US!
Concept: Everyone wants to be Hitler! For those few who don't want to be Hitler there's always Stalin, Churchill, Hirohito, or FDR. Essentially Hearts of Iron is sort of like the World War II scenario they always ship with Civ games, only instead of fighting against Queen Elizabeth and her Riflemen it will be much more historically accurate. The diplomacy and the war are all there, modeled on a level somewhere between the retarded generalizations of Axis & Allies, and the army level simplified command of a game like Panzer General.
The Hype: Paradox Entertainment made some game called Europa Universalis 2 that got everyone's panties all wet but was in a historic period that completely fails to interest me. This game uses a modified version of the same engine only with a much more interesting and relevant setting. The game's graphics are detailed and clean and the game appears to model incredible detail when it comes to generals (among other things), allowing you to choose who leads your troops from a number of historic figures.
What I Say: This game is trying to walk a razor's edge of oversimplification versus under-simplification. On one hand you've got the mouth breathers who have difficulty grasping checkers and don't want to have to think about decisions any more difficult than which piece to jump. On the other hand you've got the raving stat nutballs who want you to route supply lines of toilet paper to your officers or else they'll get ass rash and then you'll have to set up calamine lotion routes. The possibility that they may actually pull it off and make a fun game has me excited, but I temper this excitement with the knowledge that in all likelihood they will err heavily on one side or the other. Then it'll be a game suited for people who still live with their parents and go to junior high or a game suited for people who still live with their parents and work at a computer consulting company.
Our Hype Rating: 5, this game could be fantastic! This game could be absolute shit! I haven't played Europa Universailisisliflisld or its sequel and I never intend to, but since this game is using the same engine I assume it should at least be fairly bug-free. I have some hope for this game because there really hasn't been a game quite like it for the PC that models the overall war with any amount of depth, yet isn't a horribly boring number juggling game. Buy this game if you play with your genitals while reading mathematical story problems.
These are the five upcoming strategy releases that are showing up on my radar and I hope that my mini-previews will prove useful to you when making a purchase in the future.
Last week's TruthMedia Review of "Neverwinter Nights" has generated an overwhelming amount of flame e-mail, proving how perfectly researched and written it was. That's right folks, only a click away was the information that this review was intended to enrage overly zealous fans of the game, yet these extremely intelligent readers decided to write long e-mails explaining just how stupid we were.
Wow, someone did NOT do their homework before writing this article. I am not defending the game, but there's quite a few facts in this article that are incorrect. I'd suggest the author should at least do some research into the product he/she is writing about, before publishing a review on it. Reviews like this make your site look like a bunch of misinformed idiots, writing to hear themselves chitter.
Maybe should change your domain name from somethingawful.com to someawfularticles.com...?
Seriously, pull this article, make the author research his/her facts, rewrite it, then repost it.
There's a lot more where this came from! This review has already generated over 100 flame e-mails from fans of Neverwinter Nights, and I have no doubt we will receive many more even after this article has disappeared off the front page. Get them now while they're hot!