Game Review - by StormDaemon
The maximum level of intensity, depth, detail, and sheer fun for real time strategy games has just been upped several notches with the release of Warzone 2100. Never before has there been a game that could quite use 3D graphics and complex detail to make a game as much as Warzone is to play. Not only will newcomers love this game, but also hardcore gamers will be absolutely enthralled by the superb graphics, great gameplay, incredible artificial intelligence, awesome detail, and the mix of just the right amount of strategy and fun. Warzone threatens to take one of the top spots of RTS gaming, and will likely hold onto it for a long time.
The story is a typical one for a futuristic war game, but it still has great qualities that don't let it sink into the pit of mediocrity. Starting from the usual apocalyptic collapse of civilization and ending with the rebirth of civilization (and the beginning of the game), the game actually ties in very closely with the storyline, which seems to be a rarity among many action games. The story begins at the end of the 21st century, when an "accidental" malfunction in satellite defense systems sparks a nuclear holocaust. After about one hundred years, a group of survivors that slowly gained back some technology sets out on a quest to fully regain the pre-Collapse tech and rebuild civilization. You play the role of a general in that group and you'll undertake missions to gain the technology and eventually discover the true cause of the Collapse.
Warzone 2100 is one of those games that just has a whole lot of things to do, and with all of those things combined, you'll get yourself a great game. The most notable feature has to be the graphics, which is completely 3D and full of incredible special effects that have no flaws whatsoever. The graphical detail within the game also has to be at one of the highest levels possible for 3D games, and this is a just a RTS game at that. Most RTS games have nice details, but they are usually only in 2D, and when the game is in 3D, the details are usually rather lacking. The sounds are also another great feature that will definitely be discussed later because of the detail and realism that make for an incredible audio experience. The next feature, but still a major one even though graphics and sound came before it, is the complex, easy, and powerful gameplay. Warzone has much more depth than many other games with the fact that you have to design your own units, which is very easy and allows for around 2000 different combinations. In the single player game, everything you make has to be researched first, and once something has been fully researched, a few more things can be researched, allowing for branching levels of play. While gameplay is being discussed, the artificial intelligence must also be heavily commended for both its strategy and intelligence. Enemies will not blindly attack you, unless they are low level cannon fodder, and if you have heavy defenses in certain areas, the AI will try to avoid that area and search for weaknesses. If necessary, the enemies will retreat, as will your own troops if you choose to let them. Your units actually have a degree of intelligence and will not charge stupidly into battles unless you tell them.
The control of the game is very powerful and very easy. The point of view can be rotated, elevated, lowered, and moved, which allows for easy access to the most advantageous view of the scene. Everything at your base can be controlled from a little menu on the left side of the screen, even when you are far away in another zone, which is incredibly useful when you can call reinforcements. All of the main menus within the game are very easily accessible on the bottom left, with a nifty little button that closes the currently viewed menus without deselecting units. The rest of the control is just as easy and powerful, but to go over it all would take a few pages.
Playing Warzone is, to put it in plain and simple terms, a lot of fun. Not only are the controls easy and the theme great, but the actual gameplay contains some of the most complex strategy and powerful AI. The controls are really simple, with the left mouse button selecting the units, and the right button controlling the viewpoint. You can rotate your view, raise it, lower it, move it side to side, and forward and backward. That comes in real handy at times when you are trying to get the best view possible of a battle. As for the battles, they are a main part of the theme of Warzone 2100, which described in a few words is explore, research, and survive in a future post-apocalyptic world filled with a lot of people that don't really care about your survival. In order to do all of those things, great strategy must be employed in both the building of your forces, and the handling of enemy forces.
Building your main base, from which you'll conduct most of your activities, is rather simple with a control tower, power generator, factory, this and that, defenses, etc. The weakest link in the structure of buildings in the oilrig, which provides the oil from which your power generator creates power and you'll need that power to make things. Most maps have only very few spots for oil rigs, and they are usually hotly contested by any warring forces, so you will have constantly defend your sources of power, otherwise you won't last too long. If you can keep your power, you can make units, which have to be designed. Designing units is a three step process which consists of selecting the body, the propulsion, and the turret. The body type is easy to pick because there are very few, and they take a while to find, but in general, the bigger, the better. For propulsion, you have lots of choices, from wheels to hovering, and for the turret you have even more choices. All in all, you'll be able to create about 2000 different units. After you build your forces, you'll have to deal with the enemy. The lowly scavengers are rather easy, but once you meet the more technologically advanced enemies, you'll need to use good tactics because otherwise, they'll roll right through you. The AI doesn't just go about the map stupidly shooting and rushing into everything, they scout, attack weak points, and will avoid anything to heavily defended. Retreating is a big option for all units, and they tend to do it a lot if necessary.
The multi-player experience is an altogether different story. You can always do the usual multi-player game of having a set number of set units that you pit against one another, and you'll probably build some more, but they'll be pretty much the same. Unfortunately that gets old after a while, and Warzone blows other games that do that (just about all other RTS games) out of the water with its ability to totally customize your forces, design and all, and then throw them into a surely interesting battle.
Warzone, at times, is very challenging, but if a strategic approach is taken, and if enough units are used, any obstacle can be overcome.
The graphics are absolutely superb, and they were a great joy to watch and experience. Not only are the units 3D, but so is the entire world, and everything that is on the ground is fully three-dimensional. The landscape itself isn't a straight flat plain, or maybe a plain with a huge raised section, no, its completely realistic with hills, mountains, canyons, enclosures, valleys, and just about every other landscape form.
With those thoughts aside, the details and special effects are the next wonderful features of the graphics. Everything is fully detailed, even down to the little scavenger in the motorcycle that drives around and usually gets blown up. All of the texture maps look really good and really fit in, making everything look ultra nice and ultra realistic. The special effects support of the detailed graphics because they themselves are very detailed and look really good. Whether it is the fog of war, which is literally fog, or the explosions that actually look like fire (what a concept!), the effects bump the game up another notch on the ladder of greatness.
The graphics contained within the menus and the movies that are in the game are just as good, but are not as much as watching your enemies blow up into little pieces and spray flames everywhere. The menus do not follow the standard Windows theme, so be prepared for well made and great looking menus. The movies are just as good, and don't look like the usual computer generated cut scenes, even though they are computer generated.
The sounds are great to listen to, whether it is the sound of a heavy machine gun rattling off bullets, or the sound of enemies blowing up in the distance. Just about everything makes a sound, and every sound certainly sounds realistic. Everything is also in stereo and is positional, so if it is to the left of your view, then it will sound like it is to the left, and also, the sound is proportional to the distance from the object, so don't be expected to hear a unit if it is out of view and a mile away.
The music is very dark and brooding, but it does very well with the theme of the game, and it isn't too obnoxious. If you don't try to hear it, you won't because it blends in so well with the rest of the game. Sometimes it will even sound like its coming from an orchestra, even though it was probably was not. In general, the music was just a lot of fun to listen to and have in the background while playing the game.
Warzone 2100 is one of the best real time strategy games that has ever been, and maybe even ever will be. The game certainly is a front runner in the hopefully upcoming fully 3D RTS gaming et because there are not that many RTS games out there that can claim full 3D and actually back it up with good graphics. The sounds were just as good, and hopefully future games can learn from it by putting in realistic sounding weapons, just like this game has done. The control is very easy and very powerful, allowing for complete control without having to sort through a hundred different menus. The gameplay is one of the best aspects of the game with the advanced AI, very in-depth design, and strong use of strategy. Overall, this is a great game, and anyone who like RTS games must play this because if all games were made this good, no one would mind spending $40-$50 on a game.