rts

Crusader Kings II

First Hour Review

Crusader Kings 2 CoverToday I learned that some video game genres are simply not for me. Well, I've known that for some time, I can't stand realistic racing games at all, but now I can add the so-called "real-time grand strategy" genre to that list. This is basically a fancy way of saying "real-time Civilization... grandified." The Wikipedia article reads like an economics-during-war piece with phrases like "horizontal integration", "consolidated roving army", and "pursue ultimate hegemony". Hey guys, I graduated from college six years ago.

Crusader Kings II was recently released by Paradox Interactive, a Swedish developer that specializes in the grand strategy genre. You may recognize their previous titles such as Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron, but if you're like me, have never had the opportunity to play them. Crusader Kings II is set in medieval Europe at the turn of the last millenium. The game is decidedly for history buffs and fans of the time period.

I can't really decide if what you're about to read represents everything this site stands for, or if it reveals a total failure of the first hour review system. I'm kind of wavering between the two options, but I'll let you decide for yourself. Welcome to the age of history.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

First Hour Review

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty CoverNot since Half-Life 2 has a PC game release needed no introduction. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has sold millions, will sell millions more, and is just the first game in a billion dollar trilogy. Of course, games are generally popular for a reason, not always the right reason, but in StarCraft II’s case, it seems we actually have a great game on our hands too.

You undoubtedly know what StarCraft II is already, so I’d rather talk quickly about how nearly every interested gamer can play the first hour (and more) of Wings of Liberty for free! Each copy of the game comes with a 14 day / 7 hour free trial, and since at least three of your friends already own the game, just pray they still have a code available.

So let’s just play, here’s the first hour of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

Overlord

First Hour Review
Overlord Cover

Overlord is a third-person action-adventure/RTS published by Codemasters. It takes the idea laid down by Pikmin and Battalion Wars and brings them to their evil conclusion.

The concept is that you are an evil Overlord, with minions to do your dirty work. Will we have a good time playing as the bad guy, or is there a good reason most games have you control the hero?

Battalion Wars

Guest First Hour Review
Battalion Wars Cover

Battalion Wars is a GameCube exclusive real time strategy/action hybrid developed by the British second-party team Kuju and published by Nintendo. Real time strategy is a popular genre but has been mostly unsuccessful on consoles, due primarily to the lack of a mouse. Battalion Wars tries to solve this problem by introducing a new control scheme, as well as allowing the player direct control over any unit on the field at any time.

Battalion Wars was initially announced as the console entry into the Advance Wars series, billed "Advance Wars: Under Fire," and later was spun into a new series. Did the new control scheme and 3rd person shooter mechanics bring the long-hoped-for innovation to console RTS games, or will this be a massive mess of mangled controls and muddled objectives? Only I know, and I'm going to tell you.

Paul Eastwood returns with another action oriented game, if you like his style, check out his first hour reviews of Freedom Fighters and Enter the Matrix!

Pikmin

Full Review

Pikmin CoverPikmin is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, released for the GameCube in 2001. It's a real-time strategy game starring a horde of plant creatures and a tiny space traveler. You control Captain Olimar directly, leading around the mini pikmin that come in three different colors. The goal is to collect 30 ship parts in 30 days. Now I am generally annoyed by timed games, but I finished it on about my 20th day with every piece, so don't feel rushed for time. The pikmin serve as Olimar's willing slaves as they carry each piece back to his ship while sacrificing their lives in front of giant ladybugs and fire breathing snouts. It's kind of sad when you think about it. Well, can't dawdle on that too much. Pikmin 2 was also released for the GameCube and Pikmin 3 is announced for the Wii. Olimar rolls on with his minions in tow.

Pikmin

First Hour Review

Pikmin CoverPikmin is a GameCube real-time strategy game set in what could be someone's backyard and featuring a large cast of inch tall plant creatures (and you thought it couldn't get weirder after last week's Katamari Damacy). Basically, our hero is Captain Olimar, a space traveler who gets stranded on the Pikmin planet. His ship is in thirty pieces and scattered across a few different levels, but Olimar only has enough life support to last thirty days. The only way he's going to get off in time is to recruit the Pikmin's help in gathering his ship parts back together. And thus, our story begins.

Pikmin did pretty well and received a sequel a few years later. Nintendo also recently announced Pikmin 3 for the Wii, so the series will keep on growing. Pikmin originally caught my eye because it was Nintendo's first original series for the Gamecube (well, if you don't count Luigi's Mansion) and was straight from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto. Well, let's play the first hour of Pikmin.

Homeworld

First Hour Review

Homeworld CoverHomeworld is a 3D real-time strategy game released in 1999 on the PC, Mac, and Linux. It managed to garner a few Game of the Year awards in a pretty tough year of gaming which included Unreal Tournament, Alpha Centauri, Final Fantasy VIII, and the release of the Dreamcast, which of course means Soul Calibur. It wasn't an extremely strong year for the console world, so PC games did very well and Homeworld arrived at just the right time. The game is renowned for its engrossing storyline and cinematic graphical style. Not to mention a great implementation of real-time strategy in 3D space.

I usually take screenshots with Fraps for PC games but for whatever reason it didn't work for Homeworld. ZScreen to the rescue! This is my first time using the open source program and honestly it did a great job grabbing screens of this beautiful space game. Took me a while to find a working solution but ZScreen did the job just fine and worked for me immediately. Now let's get to the first hour review of Homeworld.

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Full Review

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings CoverFinal Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XII for the Nintendo DS. It was released late last year and was the first game I received for Christmas and thus the first game I decided to play through. Revenant Wings is essentially a real-time strategy game on the small screen, something that is not attempted very often and especially not from a company like Square Enix. They do have plenty of experience with strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, but surprisingly the game does not play like that at all. It's much more focused on split second decisions and fast action.

The game brings back most of the main characters from Final Fantasy XII and also integrates a few gameplay elements from its big brother. The game is also long, clocking in at around 40 hours depending on how many extra levels you want to play. This is pretty typical for a Final Fantasy game, but it seemed really long for a portable title! Thankfully though, the game is designed to be digested in small chunks, so it still works very well as a portable game. Here's the review for Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (from now on this game will be called Revenant Wings and the PS2 original will be called Final Fantasy XII).

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