Your race (not necessarily human) has finally discovered long-distance space travel and set out to colonize the universe, and would do so quickly were it not for one small problem. It would seem that you're not alone. In fact, you have quite a bit of company out there, all of whom have (miraculously enough) evolved at roughly the same rate as you, both technologically and biologically. Last but not least, you all have the same need to colonize due to the enormous populations of your respective planets. This wouldn't be difficult except for the fact that inhabitable planets are in shorter supply than one might imagine. How much shorter? Well, there's one planet available, found almost simultaneously by the competing races. If your race is to survive, you must have that planet as your own.
This is all back story, of course, and only germane to the actual gameplay in a most marginal sense. What we have here is a real-time strategy simulation in which you control various vehicles, populations, structures, and so on, with the intent of being the last race standing.
Enemy Nations plays something like a Juicemaster mix of Command & Conquer and SimCity, combining the combat of one with the system management of the other, and both require studious attention if you hope to be successful. This is not a game for the bloodthirsty and impatient. Blood thirsty and patient? Mmmmaybe, but if you're looking to blow away a few bad guys during lunch, this title might be a little more involved than you would like.
For instance, it takes a while just to get things rolling. Natural resources must be cultivated individually, i.e. lumber, iron, oil, and so on each require their own facilities and in some cases must be refined before they're useful, which means more buildings and a greater burden on your transportation facilities. Speaking of transportation, I wouldn't just start dumping buildings anywhere you like -- you'll need room for the roads that go between them, which are important to increase vehicle speed. It takes time, too, not only because of the amount of structures you have to build and things you have to research, but because you have to consider what you build with some care. Too long in the game without the proper facilities or technology, and you're hosed. If you wind up with a cramped colony that's difficult for your trucks to travel through, this could seriously compound whatever difficulties you might have later in the game.
Also, on the combat side of things -- it'd be a mistake to attempt a clumsy attack against an enemy "just to see what happens," or before you've built a substantial colony from which to grow and sustain a good military. Most likely you'll get your butt kicked. Also, if playing against more than one opponent, a good defensive strategy is an out-and-out requirement.
You have the choice, at the beginning of the game, to play as one of twelve races, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. This section is actually one of the few gameplay minuses, in that some of the races don't seem very well-designed -- i.e. you'll just plain get tromped if you don't pick one of the good ones.
The graphics were wonderfully detailed, but I might have preferred them simpler. At times I had difficulty finding vehicles and troops because they were lost in a wash of other screen items. Color in video games, as in movies, can be a minus when it fills the screen with too much unnecessary information. While the game has a diagonal view with the ability to rotate the landscape, that still didn't keep me from losing vehicles on occasion. (Also, rotating the playing field was more than a little disorienting.) There are menus for all sorts of things on the screen -- vehicles, construction, combat and so on -- but they should be for your convenience, not necessity.
The buildings under construction and combat animations are cool. For the former, there are several stages, during which you can make out some steel girders and concrete being applied, and for the latter there are smoky, fiery explosions that are fun to watch (especially, of course, if they're the buildings of an enemy).
Noisy. Almost everything makes a sound, and makes it continually. The din is so bad that I couldn't hear some of the verbal reminders the game provides. "You're running out of arglebatbuh," it would seem to say. To which I'd respond, "I'm running out of what?" Unfortunately, the game only offers a unilateral volume control, so there's no way to silence your machines and whatnot without turning down the voices as well.
Gobs of options -- if there's a way to multiplay, this game can probably handle it. Also, in both multi- and solo play, a whole new planet is generated with the start of each new game. This is nice and assures that your friends won't have played a particular map a million times, giving them the advantage of knowing the turf. It reduces the game to experience and skill.
Required: Windows 95, 486 DX2-66 Mhz or higher, 8 MB memory, 4X CD-ROM drive, 1MB SVGA video graphic card capable of displaying 640 x 480 with 256 colors, Microsoft mouse or 100% compatible, Windows 95 compatible sound card
The complex building and strategy models make for interesting play, but the noisy and elusive game pieces hindered my being really involved. Throughout the game I had difficulty finding the groove that makes this kind of game fun. Having said that, I'd have to recommend it to anyone whose interest is piqued having read this review. It certainly delivers the actual meat of the strategy and combat models, and it's obviously the product of a great deal of work.
Download Enemy Nations
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP