Game Review - by James Allen
There have been many games that simulate robots and their battles throughout time. Most of these games consist of adding new weapons and parts, then letting them loose. All of the new additions to your arsenal worked automatically, which made gameplay lean much more toward controlling effectively rather than building effectively. Along comes MindRover: The Europa Project, where the game is building the robots. All of the combatants are automated, and their actions (and victory or defeat) rests on whether you can program them successfully. This is an interesting and original idea that hasn't been attempted many in computer games. Will MindRover prove to be artificially intelligent, or be sold for scrap?
There are several different types of scenarios to engage your robots in. You can choose between battles, sports, and races, with hot pursuit modes as well. To help the beginner, very useful tutorials are included, which teach you the basics of this game, which is important, because beginners will usually not think of all the components that you need for your champion robot. Each of the different competitions requires a completely different approach, which makes mastering one event irrelevant to beating the entire game. These required modifications from contest to contest make MindRover replay value very high. Plus, there isn't one set way to win your matches, and you might find yourself revising your creations several times over. Multiplayer is a variation on play-by-email, where you friends (or enemies) can send their creations, and then pit them against yours in the different wars. Since the robot files are so small, even people with slow connections can enjoy battling with other people around the world, since an active, fast connection is not needed. All of the variability in MindRover makes for an enduring affair.
The sound is limited, but how much sound would you expect for robots? Most of the sounds in the game consits of whirring motors, but you can add speakers to hurl insults at your opponents, something I suggest to implement most of the time. The sounds that are included are never overdone, and are always on the level with the realistic angle of MindRover.
The gameplay in MindRover surrounds the construction of your champion robots, and is unique indeed. Constructing your robots consists of three stages: choosing your vehicle, adding components, and wiring. There are small, medium, and large classes of hovercraft, treaded, and wheeled vehicles, and which type is suitable for your struggle is up to you. The components in MindRover cover anything and everything you could possibly need during a fight. Bearing sensors, fireworks, engines, lasers, logical elements, machine guns, speakers, and welding torches are just some of the additions you can make to your vehicle. The list is sometimes daunting, especially for rookies who want to decide which are the best choices. This is the only pitfall of MindRover: the learning curve is very steep. But if you get the hang of building great robots, the rewards are many.
The most difficult aspect of building your robot is wiring. Just having your components on your vehicle doesn't make them work. For instance, you must tell your steering to change direction when your track sensor detects the wall. Coordinating all of your components into a coherent machine is very difficult, and sometimes makes the game frustrating. You'll spend most of your time wondering what the one component you need to add to make your robot the finest creation ever. And this is the struggle of MindRover: building an operational machine. Once the scenario starts, you don't have any effect on your vehicle: the level and quality of your programming comes out at this point. Like automated Battlebots, MindRover: The Europa Project is a difficult game, but very worthwhile when you blast the crap out of your adversary.
The graphics are pretty good. All of the environments are common places, such as offices, hallways, and the like, but scaled to the size of the robots. What comes about, then, is the true feeling that you are racing your engineering buddies around work. This fits perfectly with the theme of the game, and makes MindRover that much more effective. The 3D graphics are very believable, and serve as an appropriate backdrop for your battles to the death.
MindRover: The Europa Project is certainly an original game. Focusing on successful programming rather than control of your robots, MindRover treads new ground, and delivers with a resounding missile to the track sensor. If you are interested in programming, robots, or just looking for something fresh and different, MindRover is for you.