Game Review - by James Allen
Ah, the future. A time of global prosperity and human unity. Or, in the case of Armies of Armageddon: WDK 2K, a time of eternal struggle, sacrifice, and (most importantly) killing people. Taking place around the year 7000, AoAWDK2K simulates futuristic battles in various locations: cities, forests, and anywhere in between. Striving to be a turn-based strategy game, will AoAWDK2K deliver with a heavy assault rotogun, or not?
Being a hall of Shrapnel Games, customization of AoAWDK2K is insanely thorough. You can change almost any aspect of gameplay, and this makes replaying the same scenario with a totally different strategy completely possible. The first item that you will come across is changing the rules. Not for the faint of heart, there are 26 scalable attributes to choose from. This is quite intimidating at first, and I usually decide that the default choices are best. Included in the game are about 30 scenarios (and one campaign) to choose from, and many more can be created with the customizer. The customizer can alter maps, weapons, terrain, units, and sounds very easily, which can basically be used to make a totally new game. This is actually the design of the game, it is the Wargamers Development Kit (WDK, see?). It's much like making a MOD for Half-Life such as Counter-Strike, but a heck of a lot more simple. I don't remember many strategy games where one of the themes of the software was to alter it. Given enough time, you can craft a world of your own. Multiplayer in AoAWDK2K is conducted in a play-by-e-mail format, and since this is a turn-based strategy game, it's implemented effortlessly. Given the completeness of the customizer, the features of AoAWDK2K are surprisingly comprehensive.
Sound is another area that usually gets shafted with serious war simulations. I'm happy to say there are considerably more sound effects in AoAWDK2K when compared to other Shrapnel Games. And, of course, you can change them if you want. Insert Homer Simpson here. It sounds like it took more than five minutes to record all of the audio, and some of it is actually funny, in a sick and demented sort of way. In summary, the sound is just fine, thank you very much.
The true focus of any serious war simulation is the gameplay, and it does not disappoint here. If you think it does, you can (of course) change it to your specific liking. Included with the game are three sizes of units, from individual troopers to large mechanized machinery. There also exist animals, cars, and other vehicles to take/blow up. More weapons are revealed during the game, but the basic purveyors of combat are lazguns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, rotoguns, and combat guns. Remember: guns don't kill people; bullets kill people (or lasers, fire, and exploding projectiles). The terrain of the maps on which you shall do valiant battle include both rural and urban settings, such as buildings, roads, grass, and forest. Now that we have acquainted ourselves with the surroundings, let's wage war!
There are three phases to the game: moving, targeting, and firing. Each unit has their own amount of movement points, and, depending on which kind of terrain you are traversing, you can expel them rather quickly. The movement points are also used to face your armies in the correct direction, so it's important to not squander them. When you are moving, make sure you avoid the poisonous gas. Good advice! In addition, you can apply movement points towards a thermal scan, which shows the position of troops on the battlefield within its range. Now that you have moved people in specific positions to make your loss that much more dramatic, it's time to target those baddies!
Some units have more than one kind of weapon at their disposal, so it's important to pick an appropriate item. Each weapon has its own range and effectiveness, and percentages of connecting with your combatant are shown while you target. Any object (such as a building or trees) that restricts your point of view can prevent you from ing the most coveted target, so the closest enemy may not be the most effective use of your firepower. After you have distributed your doom, it's time to fire! There is a whole confusing algorithm that determines if you hit your target, which is outlined in the user manual. I'll let you check it out. After all of the death and destruction is permeated throughout the universe, the vicious cycle repeats itself. Although on the surface it looks simplistic, the gameplay and battle simulation of AoAWDK2K is much more complicated than it looks, with all sorts of mathematical calculations everywhere. Gameplay continues the high level of realism and attention to detail carried throughout AoAWDK2K.
Graphics, although not 3-D in any means, are also not painful to look at, and appear believable. Of course, you can make your own graphics for units and terrain, but those that are included with the game don't warrant immediate modifications. In these serious war simulations, graphics usually takes a far, far back seat (see Combat Command 2), but a nice change of pace is found here. The graphics are comparable with Grand Theft Auto 1, without the zoom feature: top-down bitmaps. Although they will not shock anyone into a complete daze (like many recent games: Giants, Alice, Sacrifice), they can and will do.
AoAWDK2K, despite being a quite strange abbreviation, is a very customizable and full simulation of war. With all of the changes that are possible within the confines of this game, any permutation of war can be possibly simulated here. If you enjoy war games, and have a knack or passion for creating your own little world, Armies of Armageddon: WDK 2K is definitely recommended. Wargamers Development Kit indeed.