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PC Preview - 'Hegemonia : Legions Of Iron'

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on Nov. 2, 2002 @ 11:00 p.m. PST

In Hegemonia: Legions of Iron you will explore and conquer the galaxy at the head of your fleet, plan colonisations, terraform planets, manage your resources and decide on the appropriate technological research to lead mankind where you want it to go. Diplomacy combined with a top-notch spy network will enable you to survive in a stellar system which is much more dangerous than it would at first appear. Who says that space is empty? Black Holes, asteroid fields, nebulas, cosmic clouds and wormholes, and alien races make each fleet sortie a perilous affair...

We got our hands on the Hegemonia preview from Digital Reality, and I must say this ... conquering never felt so GOOD. Hegemonia is not the first RTS Space combat game to arrive. It follows behind the likes of Homeworld and its various spin-offs. I wondered what Hegemonia had that makes it a true game and not just another copy, and I was pleasantly surprised. 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... BLAST OFF!

Game play, game play, and more game play. There are a TON of things to do in Hegemonia. Instantly, you realize that the game has the familiarity of Homeworld and Imperium Galactica. Camera movement and mouse control are odd at first, but it only takes about 10 minutes to master the camera movement, as well as the zoom feature, but that comes later. Your ships are limited to groups and there is a limit to groups. Now, I don’t normally like to be limited, but I can see why it's essential in this game. Otherwise, battles can get very, very, VERY large, and because of the multitude and diversity of the unit classes, you can lose track of your ships. Speaking of unit class, in the missions, you start out with the lowest level units which are your fighter class units, to acquire new unit classes, you must research the technology, whether it be unit chassis or weapon systems. There are loads of extras to research, giving you the ability to have different variants of one ship. Researching does not solely confine itself to ship technology. You can also research new types of resource gathering, planetary technology, and equipment, to name a few.

Resource gathering in Hegemonia has taken a different approach than the classic gold and energy. In Hegemonia, your resources can be acquired from space, your planet, and trade. "From space" is the harvesting of meteors, but do not get too comfortable with the meteors, for there is a limited supply. "From planet" is the taxation of your planet populace, however, nobody like taxes so do not depend solely on your planet for resources either. The final resource gathering that I saw in the beta was trading. Trade ships fly from colony to colony exchanging goods for money, but as with the other resources, there is a down side, mainly in the form of enemies attacking your trade ships. The balance between each resource gathering is phenomenal: no one resource is stronger than the other, and they can either be destroyed or taken over, and that goes for planets as well.

Hegemonia's battle system is similar to Homeworld, in that you can arrange your ships in an array of formations, target specific areas of the enemy ship to attack (i.e., shields, hull, engines, etc.), and you can set the unit's demeanor, whether it be aggressive, defensive or passive. This gives the units more worth, in my opinion. After all, units have feelings too, and should not always be heading off to their slaughter. A feature that is starting to be a requirement in most battle systems for real-time strategy titles is the role-playing aspect. The more action your units see, the more points they acquire to improve their skills. Every unit has the ability to level in Hegemonia, which brings them all sorts of bonuses. Hegemonia has a solid battle system that is user-friendly and highly organized.

Since we previewed the beta, there were a host of missing sound effects that took away the atmosphere, but it’s only a beta so who can blame them? The sound effects and music that were present in the game where top-notch and really put my speaker system to use and gave me a taste of things to come.

Ever since the first screenshots and rolling demo appeared for Hegemonia, I have been dying for this title to be released, and in the beta we received, they were short of breathtaking. The universe was exceptionally rendered, and the planets where reminiscent of the Hubble space telescope quality. Every aspect of the solar system felt real, planets rotated on their axes, experiencing night and day, and meteors drifted lifelessly through space. What is surprising is the ability to render such a high number of objects on the screen at the same time and not degrade system performance at all, an idea that seems to be lost on many real-time titles available today. One feature I found particularly amazing is the zoom feature. Most real time strategy titles have a form of this but only to a limited degree, and when you zoom in, the textures become distorted and ugly. Quite the opposite in Hegemonia, where finer details emerge as the zoom increases. If this kind of graphic quality is present in the beta, I can’t wait for the finished product!

In the beta, I was limited to the earth campaign, and it was quite interesting and held my attention. In the final build of the game, there are stated to be three sides, Earth vs. Mars, and then each side battling a new alien threat. Each side will have its own unique technology and research tree, and the game will also feature multiplayer support, single player (obviously), and (my favorite) skirmish mode. All of these features weren't present in the beta, but after what I've seen, the promises are enough to keep me wanting to see more of Hegemonia.

My final thought is this is a truly innovative game and will be a force to reckon with when it is finally released. Hegemonia features top-notch graphics, outstanding game play, and sense of game immersion that truly makes you a part of the action. At the time of this preview, demo has already been released to the public, and I highly suggest that you download it immediately. To aid you in this, grab it from our file server. . Enjoy!

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