There seems to a creative drought at the moment in the games industry, especially when it comes to game names. Granted, when the game in question involves racing fag packets around a track, there are just a few words to choose your name from (Championship, One, Formula, Racing and Simulation), but for a real-time strategy games you could really go to town. How Original War cam out of the hat, however, is a mystery. Imagine if instead of Richard my parents had decided to call me Handsome - Handsome Shoemaker. Under the right lighting conditions fetching I may or may not be, but either way I would have had a rough time at school. The surname was bad enough.
Time To Travel
Originality, of course, like beauty, rests in the eyes of the beholder and to be sure, Original Maris fairly innovative. The time-travelling story, where as a lieutenant in the US (or Russian) military you must head off to prehistoric Siberia and transport the deposits of Siberite (fuel to run the time machine) to Alaska, is pure '80s straight-to-video rubbish, told via sketch drawings and teeth-pulling voice-overs. That said, being entirely story-driven, far more so than any other real-time strategy game to date, there is more interaction within the storyline itself, to the degree that Original Waredges closer towards role-playing and tactical combat.
The gameplay too, though aimed squarely at real-time strategy fans, offers a wide degree of variation thanks to the need to manage units that are able to fill a variety of roles, from soldier to scientist, mechanic to engineer. As in more traditional RTS games, the aim is to find and hoard resources, erect buildings and churn out whatever units you need to win the map. To this there is also a degree of tactics. Your human resources are finite and you can't just clone hundreds of soldiers as you can in C&C, you must keep them alive. And if any do survive the mission their experience levels go up then, if you so wish, you can divert them to take on technical, repair or scientific tasks.
While the game owes many of its ideas to C&C, Original War has a small debt outstanding to the makers of Commandos. Troops can crawl through grass, sneak around and climb into captured vehicles. Together then you'd have thought such influences enough to make Original War stand out, unfortunately the game suffers from being tactically devoid of entertainment. While you can to some degree nurture your forces, in the field of combat the game becomes much like any other RTS, where you just leave your troops to slug it out and reload the game if things go awry.
For every new and innovative feature in Original War, there is another elsewhere that drags the game down into mid-table obscurity. For instance, the clever use of narrative to drive the game often butts in at rather inopportune moments. Also quite annoying is the interface, which looks like it offers a wealth of tactical options, but doesn't actually offer much at all. Thankfully, there are no pretences with the predictable Al, poor music and tired design of the vehicles and buildings.
Even though there's a lot to do - more so as the game goes on - it's only the base-building and resource management that make the game worth playing.
A mediocre real-time strategy game with some very impressive knobs on, while Original War is to some degree original, it doesn't quite fulfil on its second name, the war bit. But then, with my shoemaking skills I can hardly complain.
Download Original War
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP