Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: August 16, 2000
Developing a real-time strategy game in today’s industry is no easy task. Innovations are being pioneered with surprising frequency, as is demanded by fans and technological advancements alike. With a number of genre expectations putting a certain stranglehold on developers’ willingness to create something wildly new and inventive, it sometimes seems easier to work with existing RTS models. This is the school of pseudo-creative thought that seems to be most adhered to in recent times, with recently released titles such as Warlords Battlecry and Earth 2150 using long-standing conventions to generate enjoyable yet highly familiar experiences for the gaming masses. Stepping outside of its tactically-focused realm, TalonSoft has snapped up the European RTS hit Dogs of War in the hopes that it, too, will charm its way into America’s heart with its stoic mix of tradition and innovation.
Like most games in the genre, Dogs of War is set in the not-so-distant future, where greed and irresponsibility have led to a worrisome state of affairs. By the 22nd century, mankind’s mastery of technology has allowed him to accomplish two things: to deplete the Earth’s natural resources at an inordinate rate, and, more importantly, to scout outlying solar systems in the hopes of finding a planet suitable for colonization. The fruit of the first such attempt was the colony of Primus IV, whose mineral-rich lands seemed prime for a mining outpost. Initially, these hopes rang true as the colonists thrived in their new home and stood as a shining example for all of Earth to admire. This glory was short-lived, however, as it wasn’t long before the previously dormant inhabitants, known as the Mantai, took it upon themselves to reclaim the surface of their planet. The unprepared colonists were horribly crushed beneath the subsequent assault, and pleaded to Earth for aid — to no avail. The Earth governments turned a blind eye to colonists’ pleas, and left them to fend for themselves against this new threat. Eventually, the Mantai were driven away, though not before the beleaguered outpost found itself demoralized and embittered towards their former homeland.
In the wake of this crippling disaster, Primus IV scientists discovered SL-18, a mineral that proved in very little time to have astounding military applications. After several years of trading for this new substance, Earth’s newest Emperor sought to solidify his grasp on the colony, and imposed a ridiculously high tax upon it. Still reeling from past offenses, the colonists staged an armed rebellion, taking Primus IV for themselves. Having none of this, Earth sent out its elite Imperial Order to settle the uprising, while the colonists, financially empowered by sales of SL-18, hired out a mercenary group known as the WarMonkeys to defend them. It is with this conflict looming on the horizon that you step onto the scene, though it is most assuredly not the final battle that you’ll have to oversee in this fierce and bloody war.
Just as Dogs of War‘s backstory might seem familiar to RTS mavens, so will the bulk of its basic game mechanics. For instance, players are given the opportunity to play from both the Imperial and WarMonkey sides of the galactic fence, though later stages offer the chance to see things from the Mantai perspective as well. Regardless of where your sympathies lie, each mission plays out in the same general manner, with a brief description of your impending objectives preceding the action. Once you’ve sufficiently analyzed the available maps and other visual data, you’re swept away to a special “assignment” screen, where you may occasionally purchase units and assign individual troops to each vehicle. If you’re pleased with the selected setup, your forces are dropped into the appropriate area, where you must defend, assault, or escort your way to success in real-time, without the added worry of resource management. Once you’ve completed the mission with relative satisfaction, you and your surviving troops are moved onto the next chapter, where the story continues to progress. Still, missions need not end so abruptly, should you desire to lengthen them: your performance is assessed upon the completion of a given objective, based on how you dealt with additional, unspecified tasks. For example, you’d earn a much lower score if you simply destroyed a pair of tanks that were guarding an installation than if you had managed to destroy the troops fleeing the base as well. In this sense, you’re competing not only against your opponent, but against yourself as well, providing extra incentive to thoroughly explore each mission.
Pages: 1 2 3