The Moon Project
|a game by||TopWare Programmy Sp. z o.o.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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When we reviewed Earth 2150 a year ago, it stunned us to the core. It looked fantastic, it played well and it had a unique multi-window interface that was totally innovative. In short, we thought it gave its peers a fair old kick up the arse - and we like that in a game.
Unfortunately for the Polish/German development team, the awards, glamour and adoration of sexy RTS groupies everywhere had to be put on hold after a surge of impressive sci-fi strategy games appeared soon after. Ground Control, Homewortd and Battle Isle IVall conspired to pummel Earth 2150 back into obscurity. And, until now, that is where it has remained.
The Moon Project brings 2150s talents back into the spotlight, though not necessarily with the flurry we might have hoped for. Instead of expanding and taking previous innovations to the limit, this follow-up concentrates on merely fine-tuning what is already there.
The research tree has been bolstered ever so slightly from the original, so all three warring sides benefit from brand-new vehicles and weapons. Most notable of these is The Lunar Corporation's FatGirl unit, the Fatima Whitbread of ground-assault vehicles. If you equip this beast with the right weapons (preferably the new Earthquake Generator), you'll find both the Eurasian Dynasty and the United Civilised States scampering away as fast as their earthly legs will carry them.
But don't worry, the universally brilliant AI will leave your troops in no doubt as to what to do if your enemies do turn tail. In true Terminator style, your devout killing machines will ruthlessly pursue their quarry until the bitter end. Trouble is, in most cases the fleeing units are luring you into an ambush in a remote crater on the dark side. When it comes to dirty low-down battlefield tricks, The Moon Project plays host to most of them.
The fact that you can choose from three different sides was an outstanding feature of Earth 2150. In The Moon Project that choice remains, but the contrasting styles in the way you manage the available resources for each faction is now even more pronounced. For example, the Lunar Corp builds structures such as the Main Base, Vehicle Construction Centres and Weapon Construction Centres in huge orbital factories and then transports them down to the moon surface. The Eurasian Dynasty, on the other hand, needs a 'Gruz' unit on the surface to initiate building of any structure. The UCS also has its little quirks; the most obvious being that they are the only side who can't actually build a mine and so have to send vulnerable harvesters to gather resources. Thankfully, there's a tutorial for all three sides, and unless you want to start splashing and flapping about in a very deep pool, we suggest you pay very close attention to them.
Yet even with these heavyweight tutorials, lightweight strategists may find The Moon Project's interface just a little too overbearing. In fact, it's here that we finally get to understand why Earth 2150 dropped so rapidly from grace. The answer, quite simply, is that the interface has some dastardly gremlins lurking within. By this we mean that clicking on a building or unit doesn't always produce the information you're seeking. No. To obtain statistics about your currently selected unit you have to then click the 'selection' icon and, frankly, this is time consuming and annoying. When you want a flowing gameplay experience, nothing ruins it more than redundant mouse-clicks.
The Moon Rocks
Away from the rigours of the interface, there's no denying that The Moon Project is polished in every respect. There's even a map editor for the brave few who fancy creating their own ludicrous lunar landscapes.
And what can we say about The Moon Project's graphics engine? Even more catastrophic weapon and explosion effects have been added and the ever-impressive luminescence of nighttime vehicles and buildings still leaves you mesmerised. Hie only downside graphically is the abundance of grey, lunar landscapes - but then, what else do you expect? You're on the friggin' moon!
Yet another area where this game maintains its predecessor's excellence is in the online department. Multiplayer games can be tweaked to suit everybody's needs and regardless of whether you play over the Internet or LAN, you'll find your every whim catered for. Beware though, on the Internet you might struggle to find fellow players due to the wide variety of online RTSs already available.
Next Stop Mars
Despite its undeniable enthusiasm, you can't help thinking that The Moon Project is just a stopgap before the true Earth 2150sequel, in the same way that Tiberian Sun was for Red Alert2. This doesn't make The Moon Project a bad game though. All we're saying is be wary of shelling out $30 for what is essentially a minor update of a very good game.