|a game by||Mathématiques Appliquées S.A.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Bored of the same old harvest, build tank, mount attack, harvest blah, blah, repetition of your average RTS game? Surely if a 30 strategy game is going to appeal to an audience who have had just about enough twatting about with harvesters, then it has to innovate as much as look pretty?
The good guys of Conflict Zone are the ICP (International Corps for Peace) and the baddies are the shadowy organisation of GHOST. However, this war is not only waged on the battlefield, it's also fought through the media and the public's perception of the two sides. You must be seen to carry out humanitarian acts like rescuing and protecting civilians, which will increase your popularity and thereby increase your funding. Or alternatively you could subvert the local population and use them to spy on your enemies. Start rolling out the big guns and blowing up everything you see, and shit creek is your next destination.
The AI of the troops also benefits from some innovation. You can set the response patterns of your units to strict, cautious or aggressive depending on the tactics and firepower needed to deal with a situation. You can also assign different commanders to carry out operations on your behalf. However, the AI of the commanders can sometimes be a little hard to deal with, as they often bugger off and do their own thing - pretty much playing the entire level by themselves with no prompting from you whatsoever.
The 3D camera takes a bit of getting used to, but the game offers selected viewpoints that cater to most of your needs. The graphics look decent enough from a distance, but blocky up close.
Conflict Zone isn't perfect but it does demonstrate a possible way forward for strategy games, offering something more demanding than a vaguely strategic building set, which more often than not ends up in a big brawl. So prepare for something a little bit different, and don't forget to smile at the camera.
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Agreeable or not, the media have become an important II tool in warfare. Whether H slowly digging away for the B truth or pumping out baseless I propaganda, it's all too apparent that the only opinions the public ever receive about a war are the ones that the reporters feed to us.
The question of whether our approval or condemnation of the facts has any effect on the outcome of the war has become more significant, as commanders are forced to make moralistic choices that see them getting favourable coverage on the six o'clock news.
Funny? I thought war was just about firing searing hot pieces of lead into the chests of young men until their innards schlep down their legs and stain their over-polished boots.
Whatever the case, media intrusion is set to be one of the unique features of the new RTS from MASA, where the object is to defeat your opponents not just through warfare, but also by discrediting them in the eyes of the public. It sounds like an interesting idea in a genre waking up to the fact that people are getting sick of continually collecting resources. Whether this just boils down to avoiding shooting civilians when the cameras are running, or if the player can concoct elaborate cover-ups and glorified war stories is yet to be seen. The possibility of forcing the other side to bomb an innocent village to discredit their name could be the kind of immoral tactic we might expect if MASA does pull it off.
However, that's not the only selling point of the game: the developer seems very excited about its newly created intelligence system, DirectlA (Intelligent Adaptation). This is apparently markedly different from normal AI, letting the game evolve and adapt to your playing needs.
As you play a mission, different commanders under your control will learn how you play and adopt your style for you. Which hopefully means you can leave them to get on with things and not have to go back and check on them every six seconds.
In fact, MASA even goes so far as to claim the game can operate autonomously online with your own personality without you ever having to take part. Which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'playing the game in your sleep'.
Each commander also has a level of charisma, which allows them to gain better or worse control over their troops depending on how they feel.
But it's not just them: all units will have their own personality, being able to perceive danger and make a tactical decision to run from it, instead of standing around gawping like a tourist, or grouping together with similar units in offensive or defensive measures.
MASA even goes as far to say that some units are partial to looking out for number one and are willing to fire at their own allies in order to save themselves. If that doesn't put the icing on the cake, I don't know what does. Of course, the enemy will be able to do exactly the same as you, learning your tactics, anticipating them, then counteracting in a way that seems fit.
It's worth noting that MASA is already incorporating the technology into proper army simulators. So at least we know it has some faith in its designs - unless we start seeing news footage of soldiers walking two miles in the wrong direction in order to get round a tree. Here's hoping it can marry this successfully to the media concept. Hell, killing people always makes good news.