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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: May 12, 1999
The good folks at Pumpkin Studios have played a lot of real-time strategy games. Their game, Warzone 2100, is perhaps best described as the culmination of features from all the titles that preceded it. While most of the features have been seen before, never before have this many of them been built into one game. The story begins with your group, called the Project, on a mission to rebuild the world’s civilizations, which have been ravaged by nuclear holocaust. Through three campaigns, you’ll uncover a well-documented script that is told via in-game cutscenes and in-mission briefings. To rebuild, you must find artifacts of older technology, which can either be found buried within old ruins or in the hands of your enemies. The enemies in Warzone 2100 include surviving scavengers of the war, as well as more established groups called the New Paradigm, the Collective and a virus named Nexus.
The first campaign begins in the red mountains of southern Utah with you reconstructing the remnants of an old military base. The surrounding area comes complete with hills, valleys, canyons and the occasional ruined building. Unlike most games of this type, your initial base will remain constant throughout the campaign. While you do progress from mission to mission, you aren’t required to start anew at the beginning of each scenario. Instead the map you’re on expands to include new areas and objectives. This is a nice touch, and I especially enjoyed how the Warzone 2100 campaign progressed. This allows you the ability to make fairly long-term strategies for base defense and resource management. In addition to your base remaining, as the game progresses your units will gain battle experience and become more effective fighters — as long as they survive.
To make treks across the large maps less time consuming, you have the ability to build remotely, and a user-definable deployment feature is also available. Speaking of time, all of the missions have a time-limit to them, which could have been a poor design decision. Thankfully, its only effects are positive: it helps maintain the game’s pace and adds a sense of urgency to all scenarios. Each of the three campaigns have their own setting, and from the Southern Red Cliffs you’ll move into an urban setting that looks very much like that in Microsoft’s Urban Assault. From there, you move into the Rocky Mountains, all throughout navigating some of most distinguished 3D environments ever seen in a real-time strategy game. To make navigation easy, Warzone 2100 comes equipped with the best adaptation yet of the fully 3D rotatable camera. While in terms of graphical acuity, this game cowers in comparison to Bungie’s Myth II, it does perform better, especially on lower-end systems.
The artifacts you’re after can be used to research new technologies such as weapons, defense systems, propulsion devices, improved structures and production enhancements. Pumpkin Studios has a technology tree that rivals turned-based king Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. As you expand your technologies, you can then begin using them in unique designs. Each unit is comprised of a basic structure consisting of a standard weapon and a type of propulsion system. You are then able to take the new technologies you’ve researched and apply them to your war efforts. Structure upgrading and resource management are both very similar to that in Total Annihilation. Unit and weapon productions, however, are a whole new game. Here you actually have the ability to decide what technologies you want to use and how to implement them. You can decide whether your next vehicle will have wheels, a track or a hover-type propulsion system. With nearly two thousand variations, units will take the shape you give them, and the possibilities seem endless.
My first week playing Warzone 2100 was real-time strategy heaven, but unfortunately the more I played it the less I liked it. Each of the campaigns are about ten missions each, and some of them are quite expansive. By the third campaign you’ll have researched over a thousand different variants of vehicles, built three massive bases with over fifty buildings each and traveled over what seems like a million hills — and by that time you’ll have had enough. Many real-time strategy gamers have been clamoring for a title that combines all of the features from games like Total Annihilation, Dark Reign, Myth and Starcraft. The adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” applies here.
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