Game Over Online ~ Battlefield

GameOver Game Reviews - Battlefield (c) Pocket-G, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Battlefield (c) Pocket-G
System Requirements Pocket PC with Windows CE 3.0+ and 1-4MB storage memory
Overall Rating 77%
Date Published Friday, October 5th, 2001 at 06:12 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

When people think about RTS games in the PC genre, two developers immediately come into mind: Blizzard and Westwood. Like the two console stalwarts, Nintendo and Sega, they basically held the RTS genre in the palm of their hands, fending off any contenders with a constant barrage of expansion packs, gold versions, platinum packaging and sequels. It looked like Command and Conquer and Warcraft/Starcraft would dominate the genre forever as all outside competitors were shunted out as copycats of either of the two. That is, until a then little known game called Total Annihilation emerged to challenge the two behemoths. Unlike Sony's now dominating Playstation coup over the previous giants, Nintendo and Sega, Total Annihilation did not rewrite the history books on the RTS genre. It did, however, introduce novel concepts and interesting conventions that ultimately spurred a slew of new 3D based RTS games.

Pocket-G's Battlefield aims to capture exactly this feeling. Total Annihilation introduced the concept of self-perpetuating resources and the idea of the unit commander. Battlefield capitalizes on these two features. For one, it is hard to manage a full-scale RTS game on the limited screen estate that an RTS has. Thus, monotonous or secondary functions of the game should really be reduced. Battlefield certainly has this in mind. Units are built and created from one building alone. This building also refuels the commander and acts as the home base that one must destroy in order to win the game. The commander unit is vital just as it is in Total Annihilation. It is the unit used to deploy troops, working half the time like a Dune carry-all. The commander can also morph into a robot and engage in combat. Unlike Total Annihilation though, the commander can respawn and so protecting the commanding unit is not an absolute must.

The use of an on-screen persona eliminates one chief drawback about using a stylus to control an RTS title. You simply cannot move your cursor to the edge of the screen and scroll around the on-screen map. Battlefield solves this problem elegantly by keeping the camera centered on top of the commander. Of course, this includes other drawbacks like the inability to see firefights. Rather than commanding your troops directly, you build your troops with preset orders. Some of them can be ordered to stand still and guard, while others can be instructed to seek out the enemy base. Where you deploy them ultimately dictates how successful your units will be in carrying out their mission.

The traditional earmarks of Total Annihilation carry over into Battlefield. Both feature various levels of genuinely challenging AI. Unfortunately, what are inherited are also the former's flaws. It was almost universally acclaimed that Total Annihilation's campaign structure was hardly what one would call a riveting in-depth exercise in compelling science fiction, especially in light of classics like Starcraft. The overarching story provided nothing but a mere backdrop for what ultimately boiled down to one on one duels. The developers of Battlefield seem to innately understand this and what is left for the player to go through are various skirmishes. There are no missions or goals beyond annihilating your opponent. Therefore, any player expecting even the most rudimentary campaign will be disappointed. I bring this up because Battlefield commands premium pricing and the lack of even a simple storyline is a bit disturbing.

Technically, Battlefield works roughly like a top down RTS game. The graphics seem a bit dithered but a vibrant amount of colors are employed throughout a multitude of environs from icy landscapes to green plains. Although the units are not outstandingly rendered, they are certainly distinguishable from one another at a glance. Coupled with an ongoing thematic soundtrack and the obligatory sound effects, there is nothing serious that begs complaint in the technical aspect of Battlefield. Yet, on the other hand, for a premium title, there is not much to rave about either.

Even the last title to emerge from the Total Annihilation franchise, TA: Kingdoms, realized that a storyline was necessary in this day and age for a fully fleshed out RTS game. Homeworld, for example, was frustrating for some and introduced nothing more than sweeping 3D angles to view the action from. An immersive story there helped propel that franchise to great heights. As I write now, the developers of Battlefield are re-doing visuals and incorporating better multi-lingual support. It certainly has the technical potential to be thrown at the mainstream, supporting all three Pocket PC types. I hope they will at least put some of those multi-lingual skills to work drawing up some of the literary aspects of this title.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[12/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[08/10] Program Size
[04/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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