Game Review - by StormDaemon
Ever play a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game and wish you could get right in the action and see things from a game unit's point of view? Well, Armor Command provides that wish, and a lot more. A top-down view and a 3rd person view give this game great strength, but, unfortunately, the graphics engine brings it down. Also, an interface that strays from other RTS games is a prominent part of the game. Hard-core gamers will be both pleased and disappointed.
In Earth's far future, mankind has discovered space travel and is exploring the universe. As they discover a new nebulae, they also discover a powerful alien race that uses highly advanced nanite technology to dominate other species and march toward domination of the universe. As either part of the United Terran Federation or the Vrass Empire, you must destroy the other species and continue your quest for control of the nebulae, and eventually, the universe.
Armor Command has a number of features that make the game interesting. Perhaps the most distinct is that the entire game is in 3D, both in the top down view and the 3rd person view. This allows all of the terrain to be seen, however, none of the terrain can be used. The units can only go on flat surfaces, and will not even think of moving across a hill or a ditch.
An interactive selection system allows the gamer to select a unit no matter where the screen is, and if the unit can do more than move and shoot, pressing the up arrow key will bring up a menu of what the unit can do.
In most games, the unit or building that is doing something has a little animation to make it look nice, but in Armor Command, a lot of special effects were put into the game to make everything look like it is really doing something. For example, when you purchase a unit and it is built, a blue light shoots up from the Landing Pad (the base) and the unit is lowered to the ground. The special effects really do add to the game.
The gameplay is like many other RTS games, so if your familiar with one, you'll probably be able to figure out what to do pretty quickly. The only difference is the control of the units. In order to take control, you can not just click, you have to use the arrow keys to select from a menu at the bottom of the screen. In other games, you select either a group or an individual and click where you want them to go. In this game, you can select a group, but when you select an individual unit, up to 7 other units can be tied into that unit. You can also select the formation for the grouping.
A useful part of the game is that moving and targeting can be done separately. Once a target is selected, the units do not go there automatically, you have to select where they go. Attacking is done rather intelligently in this game; the enemy will do hit and run, or they will send a force in to attack. If they are being beaten, the enemy will also retreat.
The control can get sometimes confusing, but after a while you can get used to it and use it for all its worth.
The graphics of the game unfortunately brings it down a whole lot. While the 3D is really nice and everything is done artisticly well, the engine does not seem to be very stable or good. The graphics options have a lot of choices for graphics cards, but that does not seem to matter much. The speed of the graphics was fine with a Creative Labs 3D Blaster Voodoo2, but a large number of buggy graphics seemed to pop up still. The main annoyance was the constant appearance of triangles in all views. It was not a few things here and there, it was every single second of the game. The only way to combat the dreaded triangles was to lower the graphics quality to low and speed up the game a little. Even then, things would disappear and some triangles would appear. This was really disappointing because the game was done rather well in other areas. Throughout viewing the graphics, I kept thinking that this seemed like an alpha or a beta of a graphics engine.
The sound effects of the game were pretty nice. For example, the training missions featured a commander talking to you and telling you what to do. Whenever a major event happens, a voice tells you about it in the background. The fighting sounds like futuristic fighting, and the special effect sounds are nice as well. The rest of the sound is good, but not spectacular.
Overall, the game averaged out. The above average features combined with the poor graphics evened things a bit. The idea behind the game is pretty good, at least for those who like RTS games. Even those who like first person action might like the different 3D views that are possible. The story is average, but in the days of Quake and Quake 2, a great number of game designers seem to care less about story than getting the game out. This game in particular seems to have been rushed with the way the graphics are and all. If you don't mind buggy graphics and you like RTS games, try this, you might like it. If you are a graphics nut, stay because you will be disappointed. Maybe after a really good patch, or even a sequel, this will really be worth looking at.