Republic: The Revolution
|a game by||Elixir Studios|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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One of the most preposterously ambitious games ever conceived is finally starting to take shape, with the latest demos opening a tantalising window into the future of strategy gaming. Republic: The Revolution may still be a year away, but it's already promising to be a gaming milestone and stunning paradigm shift in games technology.
The games community has so far declined to get overly excited about Republic, mainly because the claims made by the developers are so far beyond cutting edge that they're frankly difficult to believe. An infinite polygon engine? Huge cities and towns populated by one million individual citizens, each with their own daily routine, emotions, beliefs and loyalties? We've been hearing these gobsmacking boasts for a couple of years now, and while the technology running Republic is obviously breathtaking, details of actual gameplay have been scarce. At last year's E3, Republic was really just an impressive engine - this year's event was Elixir's chance to show off what the game was really about, not just how you could zoom in from outer space to the tessellations on every individually modelled cabbage leaf.
The story remains essentially unchanged: you are the leader of one of 16 factions in the fictional Soviet splinter-state of Novistrana, and you must use any means at your disposal to topple the president and assume control. There are five paths you can choose to achieve this: political, military, criminal, religious or business. The idea is that the route to success is largely unscripted, with endless gameplay sophistication of the AI, which - no surprises - is another revolutionary technical achievement. The means to power is the support of the largest number of people, achieved through rallies, riots, assassinations, public speeches, disseminating propaganda and so on. While specialist characters may be recruited as key allies, the remainder of the population arepossibilities arising from the expected to react to your persuasion techniques in a totally natural way, based purely on complex AI algorithms. The behaviour of the other faction leaders has been developed with cutting-edge 'behavioural cloning' techniques to give them intelligence, cunning and unique personalities. However, multiplayer may be where the game realises its true potential, with up to 16 endlessly inventive and devious human players vying for control of Novistt ana's million citizens.
The latest demos have given a much better picture of how Republic will play, demonstrating an intimate level of involvement with your specialist supporters. One scenario involved a rival faction using religion to win support, with a preacher doing a soapbox propaganda routine in the public square. When a hired thug failed to sway him, more persuasive means were employed, in the form of a sniper rifle. While these screenshots may suggest finger-on-the-trigger action, it's actually more of an over-the-shoulder standpoint. The success of this bold free-form structure ultimately lies in the power of the AI, and we can only pray diat the gameplay matches the technology. Of course, with a project this ambitious, and a Lionhead protege at the helm, did somebody say "release slippage"?
Download Republic: The Revolution
The debut title from Theme Park boy Demis Hassibis's start-up studio, Republic, is nothing if not ambitious. Refreshingly set in the 1990s, the game takes place just after the break up of the Soviet Union. Dozens of autonomous countries spring from the crumbling remnants, and it's into one of these, the Republic of Novistrana, that you enter the fray as a small-time faction leader intent on ousting the president.
The so-called Novistrana is being created in totally freeform 3D, with Elixir claiming cinematic quality the likes of which have never been experienced before. Some 50 towns and cities will be rendered down to an incredible level of detail, and the country will be populated with a million living, breathing citizens, each with their own daily routines, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs and political leanings. Fairly ambitious, then.