It’s About Time for a Hostile Takeover…
The current trend in the computer game industry seems to be that when a successful
game is released, hordes of cheap copies are produced by competitors with little
more than a extra gimmick to recommend their product. Exactly the same as in
the TV and Movie industries. Rather than make a cheap copy of Command
and Conquer with a stupid gimmick, the designers at Interactive Magic decided
to take the high road. They looked at the real-time strategy games out there
and decided to address some of the core problems of the genre.
War Inc. puts the player
in charge of a mercenary corporation. You can buy and sell stock in competing
companies, if you are a business fan. Or you can have the computer auto-manage
that if your attitude runs more along the lines of ‘business shmizness’. Your
company is offered contracts by corporations and nations to deal with any little
skirmishes or wars that spring up from time to time. Beyond that, you must ensure
the integrity of the bottom line, and research new technology to aid your troops
in the field.
An annoying trait of most real-time strategy games has been that
there has been little or no potential to increase your
technology. Aside from building the ‘advanced factory’ or
the equivalent, the units you use in play have always been limited to
the dozen or so created by the designers. War Inc. lets the
player hire scientists and assign them to work in eight different
areas of research. Once you have researched technologies, you
can create entirely new units based on your technologies.
Rather than being limited to a few pre-designed unit types, this
design gives the player the flexibility to create a nearly
unlimited variety of units. Haven’t you ever wished you could
somehow increase the range or armor on an artillery unit? This
flexibility gives the player great power to let his or her
imagination run wild, with in the confines of the achieved
technology, that is.
The gameplay in War Inc.
is divided into three segments. First there is the office. From here you make
all research and finance decisions, as well as choosing mission contracts to
play. Next, there is the strategic map. In a mission, you use the strategic
map to move your battle groups and examine the entire area. Finally, there is
the tactical map. It is this part of War Inc. that will be most familiar to
veterans of this genre. Here is where you observe combat, move your troops,
build facilities, and construct units. An interesting facet of war Inc. is that
each mission has four tactical maps. There is one for your headquarters, and
one each for the three mission objectives. You are able to move units around
on the strategic map between the different tactical maps. This allows you to
spend some time at the headquarters to amass an army, send it out to fight,
bring it back to HQ and reinforce it.
I generally liked War Inc. The novelty of creating totally new
units gave me a great degree of freedom and the ability to
experiment. The business aspect of the game meant that gains (or
losses) from one mission are carried over to the next, And the
division of each mission into several objectives help make the
game seem more realistic. I found War Inc. to be quite
fun to play, and I enjoyed the sleek interface, but I was a
little annoyed that garbage pixels sometimes cluttered the
screen. All in all, War Inc. is a much-needed burst of fresh
air in the stagnating genre of real-time strategy games.