To our regret, the multiplayer for such popular and well-known games as X-Com and
Jagged Alliance is not an option now. But when the developers are staying aside, here
come the PBEM game authors. Not so long ago PBEM was associated with text games only.
E-Mail X-Com: First Invasion is the first full-fledged tactical game released. The
gamers were impressed, especially X-Com fans, but the game appeared to be very different from
the predecessors so some people called this project a failure. X-Com has revealed a
considerable request for tactical PBEMs, but the first game of this genre has too much limitations.
One year passed, and there deserving replacement or sequel (call it as you wish) appeared.
Shrapnel Game company has released the new game, Armies of Armageddon. What is the
game we received? Let us review the plot briefly. The game brings us to far space colony Alpha.
The colony is under attack of mutant army. This is our enemy. But it is just entanglement for
campaign. The game is able to operate in two modes - fullscreen and small window. This game is
turn-based, but the turn system concept is untraditional. Each turn is divided into three phases.
Fist phase allows us to spend APs on soldier movements. Second is for ordering where to shoot.
And third phase is for shots itself. These turn phases are the main point. When the order to
shoot is received in phase 2, it should be executed even if there nobody's left to shoot on, and
the precious ammo will be wasted.
The world of AOA is obeying to very complex rules. It is various. The game has about
50 military unit types (literally). And each soldier has more than ten parameters, able to carry
several different weapon types. There are more than twenty weapon types with unique damage type
and fire animations. AOA soldiers unlike the similar games has a limited site range and
fixed fire sector. AOA differs from other games by supporting both miscellaneous individual
units and military vehicles.
Unlike X-Com, the maps of AOA are not limited by single screen. The battlefield
is four time larger than X-Comish here. Enough space for walk with flamer. The game supports several
modes - multiplayer, Hot Seat and single player game. Additionally, there will be several campaigns
including specially designed for multiplayer. Before starting the game, you can always edit the
rules of your combat vs AI. Multiplayer also has undoubtful advantage over the same X-Com -
the turns sent via Email are being delivered directly, not through company's server (sometimes
it saves the time and money, especially for those with dial-up connect). One can argue: it seems
the game is not tactical but turn-based strategy... Wrong. Unlike the strategy, the number of
units is limited for each mission, the player has strict objective in each mission, the soldiers
have unique skills and able to develop it, they can go on to the next mission. Generally
speaking, this game is amazing hybrid that cannot be called the strategy or tactics unambiguously.
It depends on your game style :)
Moreover, there is an editor... You think map editor? If only!.. If only for maps. This editor
is for everything! You can change the whole game using this editor. The guys from Shrapnel
Game have chosen the way of open interface game (unlike X-Com and other games).
You can create both new map textures and completely new units with unique skills and specially
imported images. You need some artist gifts though, but it doesn't matter. In general, AOA
allows to create the game by yourself.
(To be continued...)