Game Over Online ~ Allegiance

GameOver Game Reviews - Allegiance (c) Microsoft, Reviewed by - Lee Donowitz

Game & Publisher Allegiance (c) Microsoft
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM, 450 MB HDD, Modem
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Friday, April 21st, 2000 at 03:10 PM

Divider Left By: Lee Donowitz Divider Right

If I had to describe Allegiance in one word, ambitious would probably just about do the trick. Microsoft's Allegiance combines elements of strategy and real-time combat into a massive multiplayer online-only space-action game that seems to have all it's creative juices flowing. It's a standard setting, time-consuming experience to say the least, so grab your helmet and space boots and hop onboard, let's see what this galaxy has to offer.

It's the year 2140 and Earth no longer exists. An asteroid, in transit to a refining facility on the moon, strayed off course and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing the bulk of the human race. Fortunately, shortly before the cataclysm, scientists discovered an unsual spatial anomaly, a network of wormholes - code-named Alephs - that allows travel to the farthest stars. The survivors have all fractured into three factions, the Iron Coalition, GigaCorp, and The Bios, each competing for the remaining resources that are critical for survival. So the epic battle begins…

It's important to realize that Allegiance isn't the type of game that you just jump right into. Beginners will find themselves at a loss for words if they happen across a veteran pilot who knows a trick or two about space flight. Fortunately, Microsoft has included a set of six single-player tutorial missions that you can complete before you hope on the Zone or another Allegiance server. The tutorials cover all the basic elements of the game and should provide gamers with enough knowledge to get their rookie cadet career off the ground. For those who didn't quite understand the opening paragraph, the single player experience stops at the tutorial missions, this is strictly an online multiplayer game. With that in mind, you can play Allegiance over the Internet on any one particular server, although Microsoft has conveniently set-up an Allegiance community at MSN Gaming Zone. Free for the first 30 days and $9.95 per month thereafter, Zone members gain access to a fourth civilization, massive arenas as well as exclusive tournaments and events.

Allegiance supports up to six teams of between three and 15 players each. Teams select their faction and one member of choice becomes the commander of the group. The commander is the most unique position in that it allows one player to quarterback the entire team's operations. The commander issues orders (although teammates don't necessarily have to follow orders) and takes care of the resource development and general operations. The commander is a very important position and should not be a rookie whose never played Allegiance before. Commander aside, somebody on the team must become the investor as well, the individual who gets to handle finances as well as tech development. This individual will decide which ships to build first, which weapons to research, and so forth.

The rest of the team members will take to the cockpit of one of 18 distinct fighter craft. There are several roles players can take on such as a fighter pilot, turret gunner, bomber, ship captain and base defender to name a few. Their tasks will accrue to their role, whether it be to attack the opposition's mining plants or simply find an opposing ship and begin their dog fight. Besides the large number of crafts available in Allegiance, there are also 20 weapon types to choose from.

Graphically, Allegiance is an extremely beautiful game to look at. Environments are filled with planets, black holes, novas, asteroids and wormholes among other objects, and each is rendered with stunning detail. The HUD display is sleek and well implemented, but far too much information is presented at one time. Information about enemy craft, speeds, distances, shields, and weapons all continuously appear on the screen. Fortunately, you can turn some of the information off, but beginners will undoubtedly find the HUD too confusing to understand. Sound effects include such events as collisions, failing shields, passing capital ships and weapon fire and each sound is relatively sharp and realistic. There's also pre-set voice chatter that you can send back and forth although it's nothing more than acknowledgments and taunts. Musically, Allegiance doesn't offer much but then again, there's far too much action going on to worry about the musical score.

Controlling the ship is relatively simple, aside from the ever-busy HUD, and the physics engine is just as good. You won't be able to turn your ship on a dime, but there's enough manoeuvrability to allow pulse pounding action sequences. Players can choose to view the game from the standard cockpit view or a third person strategic overview that provides a full view of the combat zone in question.

Allegiance is a team game, so teamwork is the name of the game. There are all sorts of gameplay modes including Deathmatch, Property, Capture the Flag and Conquest, among others. One of the main gripes I had with Allegiance was the length of some of the epic battles. In fact, struggles better describes some of the games that lasted hours and hours. Allegiance takes a certain amount of patience sometimes, so gamers looking for a quick fix are unlikely to find it here. Allegiance was designed for gamers who enjoy a good amount of strategy to go along with their action. You can expect some games to last upwards of 4-5 hours in length if you've got squads that aren't too offensive in their tactics.

Picture your favourite space combat simulation. You're entering a stunning 3D universe filled with other ships just itching to begin an epic war. Now take out the AI and replace each of the ships' pilots with real human beings from all across the Internet. There's no scripts, no tricks that the computer doesn't realize, just human vs. human interaction. That's what really separates Allegiance from your average space combat title, each and every ship you come across is piloted by another human player. It's ambitious, unique and undoubtedly sets the standards for future multiplayer games of its kind. For those with the patience to learn its intricacies and metalwork, it's a gaming experience well worth exploring.

[ 16/20 ] Graphics
[ 13/15 ] Sound
[ 27/30 ] Gameplay
[ 17/20 ] Fun Factor
[ 04/05 ] Multiplayer
[ 08/10 ] Overall Impression


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