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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 2, 1999
Games that set as their goal to appeal to every kind of gamer are usually in for deep and serious trouble. While we are all used to the blurring of genres and the development of hybrid games, those that try to be all things to all people in the end often please nobody. It takes so much effort to develop a product that can keep pace with the competition in one gaming niche that it is virtually impossible to succeed in doing so in many niches at once.
Wargasm, the game with the unforgettable name, attempts to break this pattern and to provide a unique combat experience. Developed by Digital Image Design (DID), a British company with a record for creating competent military simulations such as TFX, EF2000, and F-22 Air Dominance Fighter, Wargasm explicitly tries to attract the fans of arcade shooters, military simulations, and real-time-strategy games. It is noble that it breaks out of the established mold and pursues such a wide and varied audience; but in doing so it seems to be setting itself up for a fall, where people get something different from what they expect. Of course, having a provocative title that has little to do with the game and a cover shot of a woman in full combat gear that has absolutely nothing to do with the gameplay does not particularly help out here.
The storyline involves a warfare scenario that has been openly discussed in real-life by both military consultants and science fiction writers. It turns out that around 2025 (which really is not very far away) a disarmament treaty banned conventional war, and so given the instinctively aggressive character of the human species we decided to wage war instead on a virtual battlefield on the World Wide War Web (holodecks, anyone?). So in place of stockpiling real weapons and training real soldiers, each nation assembled a database of the very best forces and weapons technology available to them, with powerful nations getting a clear advantage over weaker ones. The winners in a virtual skirmish take over the territory, soldiers, and technology of the losers. Just as in the classic game of Risk, your goal is to expand your geopolitical influence by taking over region after region until you control the entire world.
The game has 30 diverse battlefields in 7 distinct regions. You may control up to 25 units within each campaign mission, including over 20 different types of units. You may use either 1st or 3rd person perspective with up to 8 intellicam views. This is the first game to let you be a pilot, soldier, and tank commander, commanding upgradable helicopters or armored vehicles or serving as an infantryman. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, and utilizing these differences to your advantage is the key to winning. Your diverse weapons include machine guns, tank guns, missiles, grenades, and mines of all sorts. Even the terrain is varied to encompass forests, canyons, lakes, deserts, mountains, and frozen tundra.
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