After League of Legends I need some better games to post about, so I’ll be posting about them this week! The first up is AI War, which took a good part of my weekend up. The game itself is a large-scale sci-fi co-op RTS game against the CPU. It also has elements of tower defence (against waves of enemies based at choakpoints), tactical battles (some micromanagement and work there) and the classic Turn Based Strategy stuff like long term resource management, technology research, strategic thinking and so forth.
The aim is to defeat the two AI forces (having very well defended bases) who get increasingly angry and competitive as you take over the map.
Long Time Playin’
Just from the outset if you don’t like playing long games, don’t play this game. It’s Civ4-long, hours and hours to complete a campaign. I’ve only played the tutorial and that took all weekend! 🙂
For me this is perfect – I’ll probably play by myself but I hope to get some interested people who frequent the WDG forums to play too. I am sure I’d enjoy it by myself but I want to try out co-op possibilities.
The reason is the strategic long-term elements are well thought out. There is actually some reason to not kill every enemy on every planet (each planet being connected by wormhole chokepoints to other planets, each planet is an 2d RTS map). You get waves of enemies only from planets which have gates that spawn them, and you can destroy AI data banks of the enemy to hinder progress – every offensive action is met with the AI pumping up the difficulty, which this hinders slightly. Raids like this are important it appears. Expand too fast and you have tough ships destroying you before you know it. Some planets just are not worth conquering for the natural resources, or are just chokepoints to more important planets. Some have unique things to capture which require the complete annihilation of the AI on the planet to make it safe.
With co-op the fun would come from multiple fronts being fought, co-operative army usage and gifting and so forth. Should be fun to try! (much like a Civ4 game played in real time).
Battles and Combat
All the battles are massive amounts of ships. Simply check all the screenshots I’ve uploaded! You have to get hundreds of ships to do simple tasks, and thousands to do anything remotely hard. Each ship does its own targeting which is a godsend – it is pretty much fine for people poor at micromanagement, and mainly the tactical part comes from positioning ships, formations, groups and luring enemies, hitting them with a timely wave of firepower, retreating and raiding.
The unit types are also varied – there are more then a standard trio of rock-paper-scissors, and certainly is a large part of the strategy (especially which to upgrade into better versions). You get ship caps per tier of ship – so you don’t instantly get every ship to level 2 once you research it, meaning you always have a mixed force of different levels since even the lower level ships can act as cannon fodder to save the higher level ones.
Resources and Tech
Resources come in the Total-Annihilation way of constant streams – crystals and metal being the two base items. They work pretty fundamentally like Sins of a Solar Empire if you’ve played that. You also have power being a constant number – either you’re in the black or red there, with X power costing X crystals and metal a second depending on your power plants. This keeps a cap on the amount of ships and expansion you can achieve with a limited amount of planets.
Technology means unlocking new turrets, defences, economic buildings, higher rated ships and so forth. You get 2000 points of knowledge per planet from science ships docked there. This means you can hop into enemy planets, and if well defended (or not provoked too much) you can sap some knowledge quickly and not have to take the planet entirely to get more technology. I’ve not had a chance to use a lot of it, but there are some interesting things I’ve not tried much of (force fields and turret defences, large powerful star ships, additional economic buildings and so forth).
I can’t honestly comment much on the AI. The tutorial sets it in “No attacks, AI level 1” – which is pathetically easy to lure out on each planet and destroy with smaller forces. However, I see much potential – and the AI ships do know how to handle themselves. Not thinking will get your entire force massacred (as happened to me attacking a building in the final planet which drew every AI unit there to attack me!). There are obviously AI personalities, and difficulty levels, which will likely make it a lot more fun to defend against and purposely raid. They are certainly out to get the players, even the tutorial warns you that you could lose quite easily if you’re not careful!
Since I built the wrong units the last enemy base took a while to kill too:
20 minutes or so! Mainly because I built the wrong units to attack it at the end. Also I really need to sort the alignment of multiple images. I’ll do a slideshow next time.
It is 2D, although since you zoom out a lot to get a better perspective, this matters little. There are some issues getting things done fast unless you know your hotkeys (such as building new buildings means finding a single unit who can build), but I can forgive that – it’s not a game that needs rushing all the time, and if you’re so unprepared to have to build in battle you might have already lost. The core gameplay also hasn’t got any alternatives – it is against two AI’s and that’s that. I guess it is balanced entirely around this, but you can choose a wide option from the amount of planets (thus length of the game) and other things.
In the end though it was fun playing the tutorial. Fun to toil destroying those faceless AI dregs! FUN TO RUIN THAT SILLY AI! MUAHAHAHAH! *ahem*. The competition against more then just an equal opponent makes a nice edge. There looks to be a lot of difficulty and personality options with the AI, and co-op will be fun to try out. It was satisfying to destroy the tutorial AI – as you can see above! Worth trying the trial and playing the tutorial, and was £13, which is quite good considering the price of some games 🙂