Publisher: Tri Synergy
Release Date: October 23, 2003
Buy 'MASSIVE ASSAULT': PC
When I first saw previews of Massive Assault my first thought was, here comes another RTS from a small developer trying to make a cut. I had seen a few screenshots and a line or two about the game. Oh, it's going to be turn-based. Outside of being turn-based, nothing looked very significant. After I installed the game and loaded the first menu up my thoughts didn't change much. It looked very much like Total Annihilation in higher resolution. On top of that, it looked a little too colorful to be taken seriously. This is war right? Why the bright colors of the rainbow?
"Don't judge a book by its cover." That song was playing recently on a Thomas the Train video in my living room. Don't ask. I couldn't help but think of that little tune as I was playing this little game and loving every minute of it.
Massive Assault is a game by a little development studio located in Eastern Europe called Wargaming.net. Strategy games tend to stick to certain resource models and game play rituals so much that you almost don't need a tutorial for new games anymore. Wargaming.net has taken a different approach with turn-based strategy here and gone into the future with heavy weapons. Most turn-based strategy games are fantasy or historically based. They have also cut out the resource management and went right for the tactical approach of trading punches in chess like fashion. The resource comes in a set amount for each turn which you can spend on units during a recruitment phase. Pretty simple.
As mentioned above, the graphics are good but not great. Most of the time turn based games are more about the game play and not as much about the look. There is a greater focus on deep game play. The game play here isn't as deep as even most RTS games out today. So, beefing the engine up a little more with some RTS like looks made sense. As mentioned above, the graphics seem a bit too colorful for a hard hitting game of global warfare. This reminded me a little bit of Liquid Entertainments sins in making the Lord of The Rings: War of the Ring way too colorful. They basically used the same brightly colored Battle Realms engine and made a Lord of The Rings game. The sense of immersion wanes a little as you see shiny, happy orcs running around. Massive Assaults universe is not a prescribed universe with expectations of how things should look so it's forgivable.
There is some nice panning abilities in the camera. With just a little getting used to you can zoom in, out and in complete 360 in no time.
Another comparison to Total Annihilation is the lack of story. You do start off with the standard good guy, bad guy story line. You also get a movie that is quite lengthy to show you how you have come where you are. The story is really just an add-on to the games central focus, and that is the game play. You are to take the command of "Free Nations Union" forces and defeat the secret alliance of "Phantom League" on one of 6 distant planets. The rebels decided to seize the power on Earth by first conquering the space colonies, which provide vital energy resources to F.N.U.
So, what you have is another global domination strategy. Good enough to get you going I suppose.
Easy is just what comes to mind when I think of this game. Many turn-based strategy games can have an inordinate amount of depth that can scare off the casual gamer. As you play through the tutorial you get a feeling of control of the game almost immediately. You also start realizing that this is going to be very fun. After sinking my teeth deeply into many rts games recently, the appeal of being able to take a breath and plan my attacks was very welcome. As you select a unit, you see exactly where it can move to. You have one move and one shot after you move that each unit can execute. You can not fire then move. After each unit has done its job it's time to select the end turn button and see what your enemy will do. Real time strategy has an intensity that is largely based on unit churning and clicking your mouse as fast as you can. All well and fine, the intensity in this game is based on your selection of tactics of offense and evasion. It's nice to have time to lay it all out and then sit back and watch your enemy make its move.
And, make its move it surely does. Massive Assaults a.i. is flawless in its execution. This could actually be a drawback for some. The a.i. is so precise and unforgiving that more than a couple bad moves and you're done. There is no difficulty slider so Wargamer.net has assumed that all gamers are equal. Or, if their not, they should get on board quickly. This is a very big oversight for many that could enjoy the game but will pitch it after trying to replay the same scenario 10 times. Others however will find it a great challenge and keep at it. Much like trying to beat a computer opponent set on high in chess.
There is a button that allows you to take your move back and rewind as much as you would like. This can help you undo your mistakes. It just feels like your cheating the system a bit.
If you can get past the fact that you need to be near perfect in your execution the game is quite fun. I was surprised by how addictive this game could be.
Your troops consist of various types of tanks, walkers, naval units including amphibious and air units. Each has a display of its hit points, range, and damage. Adding to the games simplicity is the overall goal of the game. Defend your base and capture others. You get a preset amount of cash to start and you earn 2 points per turn. You get a combat phase and you get a recruitment phase to choose your weapons. If you decide to skip recruitment you build up more points for bigger units later. There is no unit upgrading or researching, just fighting.
The single player portion of the game consists of training, scenarios, world war and campaigns. Definitely plenty of missions to play after you finish up the campaigns. There are about 20 different scenarios to choose from outside of campaign mode. The world war option seems to be preset conditions and the attempt to occupy a fairly large map.
Sounds are reasonably fitting to the unit but nothing special. The music is a mix between some techno and war marches. Again, nothing great, but good enough. Music, graphics, sound, story, everything feels like a backdrop for getting to what Wargamer.net feels is the meat of there product, the game itself.
Since the game play itself is what is being pushed here, it is no wonder that there are a variety of multiplayer capabilities including hot seat for players at the same computer. My review copy did not have an activation code so I did not venture into the multiplayer arena. I do think that this could be a strong point to the game. Keep in mind you will be waiting for you opponent to execute his moves since this is turn-based strategy.
Is the game worthplaying? It depends. The game has many hours of enjoyment for someone looking for a little different twist in turn based action or even standard rts games. It has a quick learning curve and you can get into the action very quickly. So in a way, yes. I have enjoyed playing the game, however have found some of the scenarios frustrating because you are not allowed many mistakes at all.
Since there is no difficulty slider be prepared for some frustration. This game may be a little too difficult for some and end up being very frustrating. Hopefully there will be some sort of demo released so you can try it out first before you buy and decide for yourself. And, even better, maybe they will update the game with this option.
I would recommend playing a demo if it becomes available and then deciding. Some will find it very enjoyable and wonder what I was talking about. If you can't wait and it sounds fun already you're probably going to enjoy it.
Score : 7.0/10
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