EarthSiege 2

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a game by Sierra
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Old School Games

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept behind the MetaItech games, it goes like this: Stupid Scientists Of The Future (SSOTF) create an advanced form of artificial intelligence with neural connectors and a biological model.

Well done, SSOTF, SSOTF now have a choice. Do they combine this advanced artificial intelligence with cute little robots who could be used to do the washing-up empty shit from bedpans and write scripts for Goodnight Sweetheart thus relieving much of the grinding toil of existence for poorly-paid human drudges? Or do they combine the artificial intelligence with powerful weapons of destruction, ever mindful of the fact that they're likely to get a far larger government research grant? No contest.

Despite the presence in the local library of a number of historical sci-fi novels, com-puter games and films that take great pains to warn against the perils lying dormant within this very area, they stick the aforementioned intelligence into an armour-plated robot the size of Tooting, then equip it with more death-dealing weaponry than a government minister would sell to Iraq. And that's the last we see of the SSOTF or indeed, of all the cute little hopping, crawling, swimming things on earth - bunnies, pussy cats, ants, worms... er jellied eels - and most of humanity, too. Because the newly-created cybrid decides, within approximately 0.000I seconds of being switched on that no. it isn't going to empty the bedpans and hoover the dog it's going to build some friends and kill every living thing on the planet. Basically, if something's body isn't made of tempered steel, it's now an endangered species. You. as someone who is keen to carry on living, decide to join the small band of remaining humans who are fighting against these '8os-style aluminium over-achievers.

Plot development?

It's exactly the same set-up and has a plot that's identical to the first game. Apart from a token 'and now they're back, for one final try at wiping out everyone whose testicles don't clank when they walk' type thing. And basically, the whole structure of the game is the same too. Despite, presumably having defeated the pesky cybrids at the end of the last game (or else we wouldn't even be here for the follow-up) you still have to start from scratch again with one poxy little robot.

The previous game's tenet was that the surviving humans were fighting a guerilla war with little or no technology of their own. using spare parts salvaged from the cybrids they blew up to learn about and create new iiercs. a bit like a futuristic Womble. There's a strong resource management element - 'salvage' works like an abstract currency rather than consisting of actual bits of machinery, and you use it to repair any existing hercs as well as build new ones.

But, since you start the game in exactly the same situation as the first one, one can only assume that after beating back the cybrid forces last time, you went straight out and trashed all the stuff you'd built. (Saying, "There! Beat them! We won't be seeing their like again, I'll warrant. And we certainly won't be needing this old thing!... I'll use the parts to make a much-needed hoover, hairdryer and cigar lighter.")

The poxy little robot you start off with really is poxy. The cybrids you'll be fighting against make your herc look like the robot that does the housework in The Jctsons. so that the game becomes pretty hard fairly early on and you need as much salvage as you can get - but you can opt for the customisable one-off missions, but basically the career mode is difficult. You'll find you set off on a seek and destroy mission with your cute little herc with its three weapons, walk over a hill and see nine heavily-armed office blocks waiting for you.

Legs... why?

The one difference between this game and the previous one is in the landscape and graphical presentation. For example, instead of still pictures showing people standing around while you read your orders from the text, you get little FMV-movies of a bloke telling you your orders, then read all the other details. In the first version, you were fighting on what appeared to be a gigantic billiard table that had been liberally sprinkled with pyramids. These were 'hills'. You weren't allowed to walk on them - they were for hiding behind when you'd had the shit blown out of you and six Pitbull cybrids were still on your trail. Technology has moved on. though, and this version looks rather splendid, with gorgeous rolling hills and dales and everything in glorious hi res. Alright, so it's understandably post-nuclear in aspect, but it's also strangely reminiscent of Yorkshire. You wouldn't want to live there (again, rather like Yorkshire) but all you need is a couple of blokes with their arms up cows' arses and it would be like an episode of All Creatures Great And Small.

What I'm saying is that at least now we have proper hills, there's some kind of excuse for giving these robot lank things legs. In the first version, a set of casters would have done the job just as well, and at least you wouldn't have continually fallen over when your legs were shot away from under you.

But even in this version, the Stupid Scientists Of The Future would have to admit that tank tracks would do the job just as well. There's not really a lot more to say.

If you've seen and liked the first one you'll like this, because it's exactly the same. Basically, it's less of a sequel, and more of an 'exactly the same game, but the technology now allows it to look rather better'. There'll be a short term for that one day. Oh, And I forgot to mention that it's Windows 95 only.

Download EarthSiege 2

PC

System requirements:

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

Game Reviews

You get your choice of murderous mechwars or aerial combat in this sequel to Earth-Siege. Either way, expect excellent explosions, awesome armaments, and riveting, riotous shooting action. In EarthSiege 2, you lead a squadron against invading Cybrid forces. Stunning high-resolution graphics and digitized voices heighten the realism.

Overview

Two tremendous artillery rigs crest the hill and begin to pour fire down on what remains of my squadron. My wingman is hit, lurches off to the east with his left arm on fire and both knee joints all but crippled. He nearly makes it. I see him at the top of the rise, then see an enemy HERC twice his size flank him. It opens up with two disruptor cannons and my wingman is finished, both legs buckling as he falls, then disintegrates in a ball of fire.

I can only watch for a moment, though, because artillery shells are raining down all around me, tearing holes half my height everywhere a shell hits. There is nothing to do now but try to get home alive; there is nothing left to save of my squad, and someone must make it back with the data or the mission will be for nothing. I almost make it. I have my base in sight when they catch me. A full volley of magneto-optical rockets lock on me despite my jammer and in seconds they slam into my HERC, shattering my cockpit and tearing me into a dozen pieces as the camera pulls back and away for a bird's-eye view of my demise.

Sounds pretty exciting, right? Well, it is. For an hour or two. Then it becomes pretty obvious that, like its predecessor EarthSiege and last year's robot-slaughtering-robot megahit Mechwarrior 2 from Activision, that this is basically another stomp-around-and-find-the-bad-guys, kill-'em, watch-'em-die, then-return-to-base-for-a-pat-on-the-back futuristic slugfest. Innovation? Well, OK, there is a flying Mech, er, HERC, but it drives like a '74 Pinto with the clutch going out. And that's about it. They did manage to make the HERC/Mech/big robot you drive really hard to control, and they did implement a heads-down display so you can watch your dashboard while accidentally walking into enemy targets, but unless you like those traits as some sort of stupid degree of difficulty, you'll quickly begin to wonder if the folks who designed the controls for this game aren't the same ones who thought that computers would always contain vacuum tubes.

Graphics

Absolutely first-rate. No polygons here, great animation sequences, realistic fire, smoke, landscape, enemies, structures can all show damage. Sierra did a bang-up job here and if you liked MechWarrior, but wished it had more realistic graphics, this alone may be enough of a selling point for EarthSiege 2.

Enemy AI

Pretty darn important when the game doesn't support multiplayer (the major drawback of EarthSiege 2, but I'll come back to that). The good news is that the computer opponents are good. They'll follow you if they see you're wounded and they'll break an attack and regroup behind their artillery or leave the field for the day if you have them badly beat up. The thing is, after a few successful missions when you hear your Malcolm McDowell-ish commander say "Great job out there, soldier. I wish we had more like you," you'll start to seriously wish that there were more out there like you. That is, human network or modem opponents. Failing to put this capability into a game of this genre should be a no-brainer. Note to Sierra, Activision, et. al.: Hello? Netplay? Modem support? Build it in ... as much for us as for your own continued success. Somebody? Anybody?

Controls

Well, I guess we'd better get used to using the full keyboard for most games these days. ES2 about doubles the number of keyboard commands of MechWarrior 2, and it had plenty to remember in the heat of battle. Suffice it to say that the learning curve for ES2's controls will get you killed a couple of times; on the other hand, there are some rote tasks (e.g downloading data from an enemy's computer center) that are automated once you reach the right building -- no need to target it, inspect it, etc. Overall, once I'd tweaked the configuration a bit, my SideWinder worked admirably (but man, the flying HERC was still a pain to control, as it didn't seem to want to let me use my joystick as a flight stick, but forced me to use the HAT switch to control my vertical movement, no mean task when you're taking fire from the air and ground at the same time.) Still, the flyer is a great addition to the otherwise ground-based HERCs, far better than temporary jump jets or the like, but limited by not allowing you to land, so there's a tradeoff to be sure. When are we going to see a mech-based game that allows you to start out in a walker, jump up and fly, then land and go out first-person hunting against other soldiers when the mission calls for it? Maybe Terra Nova 2.

Customization

EarthSiege 2 adds in an interesting model for customization: when you win a battle, your ground forces go out and salvage the remains of the enemy HERCs, giving you additional steel and weaponry. You also gain the ability to scrap existing HERCs to build other models. The selection of weapons to outfit your HERC is adequate, although there's nothing too special here -- just a standard assortment of long- and short-range beam and missile weapons. Reduced to its elements, though, these are just higher octane versions of sticks and stones. They all make the other guys blow up; your defensive jammers and missiles sort of work, but they might as well just give you extra shielding, as this is all the defensive weapons accomplish.

System Requirements

Windows 95, 486 w/VLB, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, mouse, SVGA, 16 MB hard drive space

Bottom Line

Despite its shortcomings, EarthSiege 2 is quite a bit of fun. It's not substantially different from the original EarthSiege, except, of course, more advanced. It's also not substantially different from MechWarrior 2, but it does add some nice touches that were obviously missing from MechWarrior. Without human-vs.-human capability though, I really can't enthusiastically recommend this game unless you love this genre. The missions and scenarios are nicely varied within the limited imagination of the game's storyline (that is, there are some nice scenery changes), as are the HERCs you can pilot. The music is OK at best (a letdown from the gorgeous opening score of MechWarrior 2, though) and the acting of General I-forget-his-name is repetitive. Couldn't they have filmed, say, five or six more phrases for him to say after a good mission? It looks like there was certainly room on the CD for it.

If they get around to adding network play, add another 8-10 points onto the score, depending on how well they carry it off. One-player games went out with the coin-ops and the Atari 2600s. As the writers for The Six Million Dollar Man said: "We have the technology."

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