It may look like a souped-up Asteroids, but developer/publisher metro3D's Armada packs a welcome multiplayer punch and a surprising RPG slant. Up to four players can battle cooperatively through mission-based stages that have them defending motherships, destroying buildings and, of course, clearing waves of enemy baddies. Al drones will help you in the one-player game.
Successful missions grant you enhanced leadership abilities and a better reputation, as well as new offensive technologies and ship types. You can assign weapons to the A, B, X and Y buttons, making it easy to unleash varied attacks. You can also store ships and weapons to the VMU and trade with compadres. Mission locales vary from low-altitude skirmishes above cities to deep space. Expect Armada in November.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Originally planned as a Dreamcast launch title (or close to), Metro3D was forced to push back the release date of this game due to Sega's well documented troubles with the online gaming network for the system. The developers basically had to scrap the idea of making this an online multiplayer game and focus on providing four-player excitement as well as good single play. It is very obvious that the game was meant to be played by a number of people at the same time because playing by yourself is downright brutal. Thankfully, you have unlimited lives to help out but if you plan on finishing this game alone, you better pack a lunch because it is going to take a hell of a long time.
Armada is self-classified as an action-RPG but this title can be misleading. While the game is definitely action heavy and has some minor RPG elements to it, you will never confuse this game for an RPG for one simple reason -- it is a space shooter. You will pick one of six races to hop in your spaceship then try to complete missions while upgrading your ship and advancing character levels. You will encounter over 100 unique aliens -- all trying to kill you. This game is like a modern day Asteroids, Defender, and Space Invaders all wrapped in a huge, free-flying 3D world. If you feel the need to strengthen up that trigger finger like the good old days, this game is for you.
Armada is one of those games that grows on you the more you play it. The first 30 minutes that I played the game, I hated it. Okay, maybe hated is a bit strong but I really did not like it. I was just shooting away for no apparent reason and thought that it was a waste of time and could not believe that I was playing a game so mundane on the Dreamcast. I actually shut it off and did not come back until the next day so I could clear my head and get a fresh start. I am glad I did. The manual is not the most helpful piece of literature ever printed so I stumbled my way around and figured out what I was doing, besides blasting aliens from the sky, and before I knew it, four hours had passed in the blink of an eye.
When you start the game, you choose one of the six remaining races. Each of the races has a different ship that is equipped with different starting attributes and weapons. Each of the ships has strengths and weaknesses but it all comes down to trying them all out and seeing which one fits your fancy the best. Regardless, all of the ships are equipped with a primary weapon, thruster, warp engine, scanner, shield, and power pod attack. You will need to get used to the controls as quick as possible because this game does not understand the concept of ramp up time.
Once you pick your race and start the game, you will find yourself in the middle of a battle above the surface of a planet. This is the easiest the game will ever get so once you clear out the enemies, you will find that there are a number of friendly ships that are flying around looking to help you. You will come back to this place after you die so you will get to know your friends quite well. Some of them will provide you with your next missions while others will help supply your ship with weapons and repairs. This is partly where the RPG element comes into play. Think of this as your town center where you can return to get supplies and head out on the next mission.
The missions range from killing some head alien beast to delivering supplies to space stations. Regardless of the missions, the one thing that remains constant is the barrage of enemies that relentlessly attack you. You can't stand still for any amount of time at all before you are swarmed with various aliens trying to blow you out of the sky from all directions. Your trigger finger will be aching after playing for a few hours but it does bring back memories of the good old days when this type of gaming was standard.
One of the neat things that happens during the game, which is also another RPG element, is that your ship will increase levels. You gain experience by killing different aliens. Each alien has experience points assigned to it so the easier enemies gain you less experience than the more advanced enemies. As your level increases, so does your strength and firepower. Gaining levels becomes vitally important to your survival, almost to a fault. See, there will be points where you just cannot pass and have no choice but to fly around blasting aliens for the sole purpose of advancing levels and gaining strength. This gets boring after a while and I found that I really wanted to do something different but I was stuck because I could not defeat a particular enemy because my level was too low.
Another cool thing that they did, which also has the RPG overtones to it, was instituting upgrades that can be purchased from space stations. So how do you purchase them? That is the cool part. As you kill aliens, they drop credits that you will fly over and pick up, but these are just peanuts. The real money is made by helping other spaceships survive. You will get hailed over your comm unit asking for help. When you locate the ship that is hailing you, the captain will request your help in reaching certain coordinates. If you can help fight off the alien ships and make it to the set coordinates, the captain of the other ship will reward you with a handsome payout that can be used to purchase weapons upgrades, shields, power boosts, and tons more. This did help keep the game somewhat interesting between missions while I was trying to build up my levels.
I did have one pretty major issue with the game and that was control. Actually control is not entirely accurate. It was more an issue of aiming. It was really tough to get the hang of flying my ship around and shooting. I played for hours and was never really comfortable with the way the ships flew. The majority of battles were just flown around with reckless abandon hoping to score hits. I knew that I had nothing to lose because the game lets you continue as often as you like but I never really felt that I was in control enough to use my thrusters and fire.
I was not overly impressed with the graphics of this game. It is not really fair for me to say that, because there was nothing really wrong with the graphics but there was also nothing that really stood out either. I guess they did a good enough job at what they were trying to accomplish but this will not be a game you pull out to show off the system. The explosions look nice and there is a lot of action on the screen at one time but that is about it.
If you are willing to give the game a chance to get going, you will find that it is pretty fun and addicting -- I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. It is not the type of game that will appeal to every gamer out there but if you enjoy space combat games, you should have fun with it. I recommend getting a couple of buddies together and playing, because you can team up on the aliens and do more damage. Trying to play through the game alone in single player is one tough assignment. Good luck