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Stranger

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: FireGlow Games

About Judy

As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games...

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'Stranger' - Screens

by Judy on Sept. 22, 2004 @ 10:41 a.m. PDT

Stranger is a real-time strategy game, with elements of role playing games set in a world, split in two parts, surface and a subterranean one, which are in a tenuous balance. Stranger will also feature multiplayer, although details beyond "The players may play on their own, or unite in teams" are a bit sketchy.

The game world is created in a traditional fantasy style. It is split in two parts, the surface one and subterranean one, which are in a tenuous balance. These parts are different in appearance and each one dictates its own rules of living. The lower world is dark, quiet and stern; it attracts you with its mysteries and treasures. The upper world is cold and full of light, it has more life and more conflicts. The opposition and co-operation of the upper and lower worlds create the battleground for the player and provide numerous opportunities for the character development.

The characters which inhabit the two parts of our world are numerous and belong to different tribes, each one having its strong and weak sides. The number of characters under player control depends on current task; it may be few or a few dozen. The player has several main characters (heroes), which are unique within the whole world; they develop their skills faster and have special abilities. All others are mercenaries, and the player may control their number depending on the strategy chosen. The player will also meet neutral characters and even whole neutral tribes, which may become his allies or enemies.

The monsters are enemies of all sentient beings in the world. They attack everyone, they are treacherous and hardly predictable, but the monsters have something in their hands which supports the life of the whole world, so you have to take risk and hunt them - if they're not here yet to hunt you first.

The tactics is based on the numerous combat skills of the characters, wide choice of equipment, the variety of landscapes and knowledge of the strong and weak points of the enemy. The arsenal of tactical moves also includes reconnaissance, covert operations, misleading maneuvers, using riders, flying characters, and, of course, magic. The detailed elaboration of combat is unusual for RTS and may resemble role-playing games. Advanced system of behavior and tactics control allows the player to choose the level of interaction with the game and avoid routine actions, also making the game easier for the beginners.

The role-playing elements allow the players to develop their powers and gain new abilities, to become stronger, quicker, and more skillful in combat and magic. Various styles of weapon usage, properties of equipment, magical artifacts and interactions are structured in a clear and intuitive system.

The magic plays its important role in the world. Practically inaccessible in the beginning of the game, and gradually growing, it allows the player to get used to it and develop necessary strategies. The magic is inseparably linked to specificity of the game world and is subject to special rules, which are different in two parts of the world.

The economical model includes constant movement of resources from the lower part of the world to the upper one and vice-versa, which requires constant interaction of the two parts. Resource and equipment trading, recruiting fighters and magicians and manufacture of the armor and weapons are an integral part of the game.

The storyline of the campaign is based on the interaction between the main characters of the game and on gradual immersion into the mysteries of the game world. Additional subordinate plots will entertain the player, teach him new tactical moves, and allow him to accelerate the development of character skills. Naturally, the main intrigue of the storyline is revealed only in the end of the game.

The multiplayer game is more dynamic than the campaign, but it is no less detailed. The players are equal in their abilities and the victory depends on usage of correct tactics and on efficiency in expansion. The combat takes place in several locations in the same time, which is dictated by the structure of the world, and so the player should distribute his attention between several maps. The players may play on their own, or unite in teams.

The game engine allows the designers to create the necessary atmosphere, using highly detailed objects and landscapes, special effects, and complex character animation. The game interface is implemented as a third person view with mobile camera and flexible camera restrictions - e.g. it's possible to look at the battle field from the bird's eye view, or to focus on a small group of characters.

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