Allegiance

a game by Microsoft
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review, 3 reviews are shown
User Rating: 6.0/10 - 1 vote
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Starter's Guide

Scouts

Scout ships armed with mines are deadly. The easiest trick is to run through an aleph and drop your mine as soon as you exit - any chasing ship will run smack into them. To help out your commander, when starting, load up with probes and drop them in as many sectors as you can.

Fighters

They are underrated by a lot of gamers who tend to use them solo and then slate them as weak. However, 'big wing' tactics work very well so always stay in a group and you'll draw in enough of the enemy's resources to plan a bomber attack.

Interceptors

These are great short-range craft and are very easy to fly, but with no RIP facility they need forward bases to act as attack ships, otherwise they should stay in defence. Use them to ram smaller ships - other gamers hate ramming but just ignore them, it's a great tactic.

Stealth Fighters

Stealth fighters are all about strategy and, er, stealth. Don't load them with shields or missiles in the external mounts - you need to keep your radar signature low. Use the + key to zoom in on enemies at ultra long range and snipe from afar. Use the Z axis (up and down) and cloak before going through alephs and only attack when you know you can kill.

Pods

Below your target reticule is a red number. That's your damage bonus and it goes up with every kill. Pod killing is a big no-no, but if you see a pod with a high bonus, kill it. Any pilot with a high bonus (30+) is extremely deadly. And if you want to get back to base in a hurry, just ram your pod into the enemy.

Vectoring

This keeps you flying in a straight line while allowing you to turn in any direction. Pilots assume scouts only lay mines while running away. Vector your ship, but turn towards your pursuer - he thinks you're on an attack run and will boost in at you... drop your mine and he'll get a surprise.

Boosters

Use boosters to cut down the time an enemy has to make a straight-line shot at you. When running away put your ship in a permanent spin and then apply boosters and jink slightly (so as not to lose any speed). No small ship should be able to hit you.

Probes

Detection equals death, so always destroy enemy probes whenever you detect them. To lay a trap, kill all but one probe in a sector. Place your ships out of scan range then send in a bomber to be detected... the enemy will come for an easy kill.

Chat

Squads use specific channels for each ship type or group, for example, Delta for defence. This allows for greater co-ordination without cluttering up the commander's channel.

Ranking

Rank is stacked for those who kill lots of bases - the best fighter pilots don't care about rank. I have an 8:1 kill ratio and never get close to the top 100. Anonymity holds its own kind of bonuses in Allegiance- opponents underrate you, then they die.

Commanding

Unless you know what you're doing you should avoid taking on the commanding role in larger games. The best way to learn is to hook up with some mates and play a small game. If you screw up your mates shouldn't mind too much.

Download Allegiance

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Set in space amidst wormholes and space debris, Allegiance gives players the chance to carry out a wide range of team duties, ranging from turret gunner to capital ship captain, and to fly 18 different craft armed with 20 different weapons. Stunning planetary backdrops, nebulae and supernovas all add to the action and, as in Team Fortress 2, the commander role allows wannabe tacticians to oversee team progress, issue orders and apportion resources from a familiar top-down, real-time strategy perspective.

The Allegiance plot goes something like this: towards the middle of next century, an asteroid bumps into Earth and obliterates pretty much everything. Just beforehand, though, scientists discover a vast network of wormholes that allow people to up their stakes and leave - and it's at this point that you're asked to pledge your allegiance to one of the three emerging factions: The Iron Coalition, GigaCorp, or The Bios. The Iron Coalition is a peacekeeping force made up from the remnants of the UN; GigaCorp is a large corporation focused on universal domination; The Bios are genetically engineered loony-toons out to destroy anything that isn't another genetically engineered loony-toon. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Zero gravity fans will be glad to hear that the gameplay physics are pure Newtonian, and thus pretty much standard fare for a game set in space. But to do away with those perpetually circling dogfights, without doubt the bane of the genre, Microsoft has added side thrusters. This allows ships to strafe left and right across the X-axis, lending combat an almost Half-Life-like precision and making enemy encounters a lot less aggravating because of it.

There are already a number of online titles that encourage team-based play, along with a few others due for release some time later this year. Xhe ones that really work -the ones you'll be itching to play come this time next year - are those that allow casual gamers and newbies to get sucked in just as deep as the die-hard game-head. Getting things 'just so' is difficult but not impossible: witness the colossal popularity of Counter-Strike and Team Fortress Classic.

In Allegiance, everything is shared among the team, meaning people have to co-operate or it all falls apart. At the start of every game, individual resources are funnelled to the commander, who then decides how best to use them (Microsoft assures us that this feature can be switched off, preventing idiots from ruining the game and, if enough of you decide your commander is rubbish, you can mutiny.) And if you research improved technology, you'll know that everyone else will have access to it also.

With so many of today's gamers exhibiting all the symptoms of attention deficit disorder, Microsoft has been careful to include game variations that allow players with pressure cooker thyroids to get a quick fix of dog-fighting action with none of that plot and strategy pig-poo. Head for the Allegiance section of the MSN Gaming Zone, and you'll be up against hundreds of other people whose hyperactive reflexes are matched only by their ability to swear and cuss when beaten. Both deathmatch and capture the flag (CTF) types provide hours of satisfying arcade action and, as in the full game, it should be a rewarding experience for everyone.

Overview

The year is 2150 and an instant transportation system for moving between solar systems has been discovered making it easier for the warring factions to move from system to system. With your teammates you try to defeat your enemies and fight for dominance.

Allegiance is an online game found at The Zone, with both free and for-fee game areas. In the free games, which is what I played for this review, there are three powerful factions: the Iron Coalition, the Bios, and the Gigacorp. You must choose which faction to join and then you must defend and expand your territory against the other factions. Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses. Although there are several similar games on the market, Allegiance puts the best of them together. You have the flying of Descent, the challenge of a flight simulator, the action of real-time strategy and the group cooperation Asheron’s Call.

Teamwork is the name of the game: it is up to your group of online players to work together as a team and defeat the other factions before they get you. Lone wolves need not apply. Patience is a virtue: my first time playing I was still in the single-player frame of mind and I wanted to get in a fighter and attack right off the bat, which was the wrong thing to do because I did not have the training necessary to survive a battle. It takes a while to develop the proper dog-fighting skills (see Gameplay). One of the best things you can do early in learning the game is to get into a turret and be a gunner. You get the fun of targeting and shooting and you do not have to do the flying. The bigger ships like bombers always need gunners since they move slow. There are many different types of games: Capture the Flag, Death Match, Conquest, and so on. I have spent most of my time playing Conquest; to me it is one of the most challenging since the group has to wipe out all of the enemy’s bases to win.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Learning the controls took me some time. I found myself alternating between using the keyboard, mouse, and joystick all at the same time; This presents a problem since there are three things to use and I only have two hands. During dog-fighting the joystick is the primary controller but I found I could not do it without keyboard commands. There are lots of tricks that I still do not know but the advantage of playing this game online is being able to see others use the tricks you want to learn.

When your commander gives an order you have two choices, you can press the Insert key to accept the order and your ship will go directly into autopilot to the objective. Or you can press the Delete key, which allows you to reject his order -- a true team player will not want to do this very often. Your team leader has a command view and knows what your team needs you to do.

Oftentimes you will find yourself up against a faster or stronger opponent. Faster opponents usually have fewer defenses and can be taken out by a direct collision when all else fails. If your opponent is stronger it is also usually slower and you can run away. When your shields run out, your hull starts taking damage; if it gets to zero you end up on a long, slow flight in an escape pod back to a base before you can get back into the action. If you can disengage from the battle your shields will recharge, after which you can reengage and return to play. When you run out of ammunition you have to return to a base to get loaded up again.

At first, I found the interface to be a bit overwhelming. You will discover that paying attention to the items on your heads-up display will be key in helping you find your way through space. I introduced a friend to the game and he had the same reaction I had at first: "This is too much." You may have a similar reaction -- granted, there is a lot to do, but you will get used to it. The complexity of the interface lends itself to more involved gameplay, giving you the ability to do so many different things .

Graphics

The graphics display is also a bit overwhelming. At first, the sensory overload made it difficult for me to focus on the job at hand. After a bit I got used to it and learned to put into the background the less important things until they are needed. The heads-up display puts so much in front of you that you can get distracted; however, the information there is vital to your survival. There is plenty of hi-tech stuff to keep you eyes entertained.

For those of you who can’t get enough eye candy, you can also add small overlay screens such as maps, equipment lists, etc. You can also remove them if you just can’t take it all in at once. The screenshots speak for themselves. There is great use of color and depth of field. As you target an opponent you will see a ship icon and a distance meter under it indicating how far away or how quickly he is closing on you. Keep these numbers in mind. Sometimes you do not see the close one on your tail taking your shields down to nothing. You will get better at identifying the closest target with practice. If you do not see enough to keep your eyes busy, I want to know what games you have been playing!

Audio

Great Audio! There are a large number of canned voice commands and taunts to choose from. As expected there are plenty of shooting, exploding, and movement sounds -- doors opening, docking sounds -- all the usual filler that would be missed if they were not there, but these sounds blend into the background and give richness to the audio. There is also a very good command voice for the commander your group, in addition to the words printed on the screen you will also hear the command. This will help you to follow your commander even if the heat of battle distracts you. The background music stays in the background like it should. The taunts are fun and seem to be used a lot in the games that I have played -- they've been adopted quite quickly into the normal play of the game. You also get to choose who will hear and see your messages by selecting all, your team only, or a selected player. This is done on the fly and can be changed whenever you need to taunt the other team or just pump up yours.

System Requirements

Multimedia PC with Pentium 200 MHz with 3D accelerator card or Pentium II 266 without a 3D accelerator card (Pentium II 300 MHz with 3D accelerator card, recommended), Microsoft Windows 95 or 98 operating system with DirectX 7.0 API, 32 MB of RAM (64 MB recommended), Browsers Internet Explorer version 4.0 or Netscape version 4.0 or later, Minimum 270 MB of hard disk space, Quad-speed CD-ROM drive, SVGA (800x600) monitor, SVGA (800x600) video card supporting 16-bit color, Mouse or compatible pointing device, DirectX-compatible joystick recommended, DirectX-compatible sound card, 28.8-KBps modem (56-KBps recommended), and Internet access.

Documentation

The printed documentation is weak. I, myself, like a good printed reference manual. The most informative part is the "Survival Guide," a four-page fold-out card. This is more like a quick reference card that is missing a few things. The "Handbook" that is provided is more like a pamphlet. Other than installing the game and getting connected to The Zone there is not much in it. Online help is the best place to go to get your questions answered; however, I wanted to play immediately when I got into the game and reading online help was low on my priority list. The problem is that the game has enough complexity that you really need to do the tutorials to survive with the basics; if you really want to learn, you will need to read the help, ask questions of more experience players, and play, play, play.

Bottom Line

As a rule, I hate exclusively online games! I am vehemently opposed to paying $40+ for the software and then having to pay $10 a month to play online. Allegiance, however, is the exception. You can play on the free sites or opt to pay the $10 a month to get some nifty extras. Although the extra things are nice, my wallet (and my wife) will be much happier with me playing on the free sites -- the free level is challenging enough. It may take some time to master and feel comfortable with the controls and movement, but the combination of genres (real-time strategy, space flight simulation, group cooperation, etc) makes it worth the effort. For this reason I have given the game a 91 out of 100. It remains to be seen how the game servers will handle the expected hundreds of players at a time. Right now is the time to get on and play; I have yet to see any slow-downs and there is a lot of open space in the games.