...And Machines Will Rule the Future...
Behold the future...Mankind, in danger of overpopulating the Earth, has sent machines to other worlds in order to terraform suitable worlds for human life. The first wave of machines arrives on the planet "Eden 4" and quickly prepares for human arrival. The humans don't come, but the machines continue to replicate themselves and exploit the land for building materials. Several hundred years pass, and still the humans have not arrived. The "Controller" AI, however, continues its terraforming program and expands beyond the confines of Eden 4. While expanding, the first wave of machines encounters another "race" of terraforming machines. Worlds collide. Each "Controller" believes the other to be malfunctioning - and that's where the fun begins.
You control the machines from Eden 4. Your mission: Destroy the encroaching enemy. To complete your mission you are going to have to mine building materials, research new technologies and basically do whatever it takes to win. Sound like your basic strategy game? Well, in a way it is. Machines is very similar to other RTS games, but does some things differently. Incorporating a 3D engine and a killer first-person perspective, Machines breathes new life into the genre.
About a year ago, a little strategy game came out that took players by storm. Perhaps you've heard of Starcraft? Good. I love that game. Staring at the monitor in the wee hours of the morning, I sometimes wondered what it would be like to live as a Protoss probe. No, it certainly wouldn't be an exciting life, but imagine all the cool things I would be able to see. Ahh, to see a Templar up close. Or to watch a Hydralisk killing my friends. But alas, I have yet to see an alien world through the eyes of a robot. . .until now. Acclaim, in my opinion, has successfully combined the strategy genre and the first-person genre in Machines, elevating the RTS market to a new level.
The first-person perspective feature is awesome. You can enter the "mind" of a specific unit and take over the controls. Granted, this feature is not very practical during battles, but you will not be able to resist looking at the world through the eyes of one of these guys. And in some instances, the first-person view is the best way to complete the mission.
Taking a cue from the Mythgames, Machines' terain is fully 3D. You're going to love the varying camera options and perspectives - 2-D, 3-D, Eagle Eye, first-person - it's all here. And the details of the terrain and machines make the game even more worth it. Very impressive.
To accompany the cool visuals, you'll find some pretty cool sound effects. LikeStarcraft, each individual unit has its own personality that makes you want to click on the units just to hear them talk. The soundtrack is well-done, too.
The diversity is there as well. You can build 50 different polygonal units, not to mention a bevy of weaponry and buildings. While it doesn't quite match the amazing unit depth of Total Annihilation, you'll still find more than enough to keep you interested.
The game control is close enough to most of the other strategy games that you could learn to play without reading the instructions, but just different enough to confuse you while you are learning. Also, while the first-person perspective is damn cool, it leads to some difficulty in controlling and selecting units. Once you learn to work the controls, however, you'll be in heaven.
The downside to all the 3-D graphics and intense detail is that the gameplay is not as fast as other strategy games. I often got annoyed at the time it took for a unit to join its battling brothers, though the wait gave me some time to view the scenery. Unfortunately, the game is not equipped with a game speed control, but maybe that will come with the sequel.
That is, if you can get to the sequel. This game is challenging. The first campaign missions are easy, but they get progressively harder. The AI is tight and will keep you on your toes. I have yet to complete the game due to the time-consuming missions, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And when I do finish this game, I will always have the option to continue playing the Skirmish and Multi-player modes. So, yes, dear readers, there are many hours of gameplay waiting for you.
What else can I say? Cool details, cool perspectives and cool gameplay. All you strategy lovers out there should go buy Machines. It will be worth it. Besides, seeing that we may die from overpopulation in the near future, what have you got to lose?