“This is where I draw the line!”
This game starts out with the most typical and trite scenario in video games:
choose one side, the peaceful humans or the warlike aliens, and then blow each
other away. Sure, all strategy games follow the same plot, but it’s the gameplay
that really matters. Fallen Haven adopts many aspects from other popular
strategy games and makes a few changes… for the worse. It’s no Command
and Conquer, and it’s no Star Control
either. It’s your basic ripoff of those favorites jammed in with some really nasty
differences that make you shake your head.
First of all, in a time
where everyone expects nothing but real time action, Fallen Haven is
turn based. This isn’t too bad because it works for the planning phases. It’s
a different story during battle, where you command your units around, and then
wait for the computer to take its turn. Perhaps the most irritating thing to
endure was watching the computer pound away at you, not knowing how much damage
was dealt until that tank blew up or when it finally becomes your turn again.
The engine behind the software closely resembles the angled view of the terrain
like SimCity. The player builds up each colony by constructing various
structures and units, consisting mainly of some form of a tank. Sadly there
are only nine units, most of which are too weak or useless to actually employ.
To make matters worse, the buildings available are extremely limited and boring.
The buildings just sit there, not contributing to anything except some numbers
on the top of your screen like credits or research points. Can you say “zzzz….”?
Even in easy mode, the game presents quite a challenge. It’s not impossible, but in order to get far patience is a must because a lot of time is wasted on waiting for money to accumulate. Other times are spent reloading your units. There exists an option to develop improvements in your nuclear capabilities and increase the chances of hitting the enemy, but why waste research points on that when you can reload each time you miss? In each of the colonies the player must build refineries (sound familiar?), and at the beginning of each round you receive a certain number of credits. This really isn’t all that exciting once you spend ten turns watching the enemy expand its territory while you’re just sitting around waiting for your troops to build up. You gain a new unit each time you conquer a new section, but until then you’re stuck with very little variety to play with. Even when you do finally get those new tanks, not all of them are worth building.
In the beginning, the graphics
and music captivated a skeptical me who already had more than a few doubts about
the game. The pictures were simple yet clean and crisp. The futuristic techno
tune actually caught on to me and many times (to my embarrassment) I found my
foot moving to the beat. Yet all good things come to an end. An hour after playing
I could draw the few screen shots in the entire game by myself. That catchy
song soon became an annoyance since that was basically the only track. The sound
effects, much like the game itself, were rather simplistic and boring.
However, wrapping it up, this isn’t a horrible game. For strategy lovers like me Fallen Haven still contains that addictive element that keeps one up all night. It’s just hard to resist the suspense of building up and finally pouring all those troops into a total annihilation of the detested enemy. However, similar games just excel over this one in all categories (such as music, graphics, concept, story and gameplay). For those of you who played Dune 2 by Westwood, a game five years old, comparing it to Fallen Haven would make you believe that games and computer technology hadn’t advanced at all in that time (BTW, Dune 2 was much better than this.). Other features not included that could have been were: multiplayer options, real time battle, and diplomatic relations with neutral colonies. If companies want to produce clones, they should improve on it or at least achieve the same level. Fallen Haven contains a few good concepts and ideas, but didn’t bother to maintain good quality throughout the game while leaving plenty of room to expand and develop.