Uprising 2: Lead And Destroy
The original Uprising was the first game to mix action and strategy with any kind of success. Blending elements common to real-time strategy games and incorporating a first-person perspective interface, it was the first game of its type to immerse you in a real-time battle scenario.
It was by no means perfect - but then games that can truly be deemed Crevolutionary' rarely are. The interface was at times awkward, the 3D graphics were hardly what you'd consider pretty, and the artificial intelligence was sometimes erratic, to say the least.
It was also bloody hard. The fact that you couldn't always identify your own units didn't help matters, and once you reached the third mission it was like hitting a rock in terms of difficulty. Had these guys ever heard of a learning curve?
We've listened long and hard to what people had to say about Uprising, says Helmut Kobler, president of Cyclone Studios. When we were developing the first game we were well aware that what we were doing was something new. We pretty much knew that we wouldn't get everything right first time.
So what's new? Well, from the feedback we've had, people seemed to want more of the same - they really liked the game and the concept. So we've just gone out and tried to make it even better in as many ways as we can. We've simplified the interface, built in 3D accelerator support, focused on the action side of things and spun out more of a storyline." We looked long and hard at other games that could be compared to Uprising in terms of style and what they were trying to achieve, such as Urban Assault and Battlezone, chips in the game's producer, John Eberhardt. Battlezone really focuses on the sim side of things; so we've gone in heavy on the action. Consequently, we've made it easier to get involved.
For a game like this to be fun, it's got to be accessible otherwise the player feels alienated and just gets frustrated. Urban Assault is difficult to get into. Uprising 2 is much easier to control than before - you can play it using just five keys now.
So this time round you won't be fighting the control system as much as you are the enemy, which is good news for those people who were put off by the confusing control system found in the first game. What's more, in an effort to appeal to an even wider audience, Cyclone have included three levels of difficulty, so if you're getting twatted as you learn how to play the game, you can switch to pansy pants level and kick alien butt.
In the first game the learning curve was all wrong," agrees Eberhardt. You'd get through the first three missions and then hit a 90 angle. Now it's a much smoother ramp - and the storyline helps explain things - but it's still no pushover. Ultimately, we want the sequel to be both challenging for die-hard Uprising fans who completed the first game, and at the same time make it more accessible for people who have never played a game like Uprising.
Get Among 'Em
Of course, the biggest edge these 3D first-person strategy games have over their top-down counterparts is that they immerse you in the heart of the action. When you play games such as Command & Conquer or Total Annihilation it's very much as if you're controlling the action from on high, like some ethereal armchair general. As a result it's difficult to get emotionally involved with the units under your control. Immersion is undoubtedly an important issue, so how have Cyclone made Uprising 2 more in-yer-face than before?
Well, for a start, the actual environments are much more detailed than before, explains Eberhardt. We've got 3D accelerator support - Voodool and 2 - for people who have got the hardware, and it looks heaps better than before. We've included loads more animated units and world objects, and they've all been rendered in 3D in 16-bit colour. We've also included new weapon effects, night missions, and weather effects such as snow, ice and fog.
It undoubtedly looks very pretty, and even without 3D hardware support the level of detail is quite acceptable, though there is still a fair bit of pop-up. However, this is perhaps inevitable when you consider how many texture-mapped polygons are being thrown around the screen at any one time. We've actually trebled the horizon, grimaces Eberhardt, but there's undoubtedly a trade-off when you need to move so much around on-screen. You don't really notice it once you start playing - we thought it would be better to give the player detail close up, rather than spend valuable processor power on extending the perspective.
He's right. After playing through the first mission (and getting totally thumped in the process) you just don't seem to notice. You find yourself concentrating so hard on what's going on in front of you, you don't have time to scan the horizon.
It's also a lot easier to distinguish who's on your side. If you haven't played Uprising you'll find it pretty accessible, and if you have you'll find the follow-up reassuringly familiar - but at the same time quite a different experience.
This time round you're fighting aliens, not human rebels, so you're more emotionally involved from the start - it's them or you. You're fighting to save mankind and they're here to kick your ass' says Eberhardt. We've also incorporated more of a storyline, and in an effort to dra w the player in we've concentrated more on how each unit looks and behaves. The aliens are very much Giger-inspired -some look like something out of Babylon 5 - while the humans are more akin to those in Star Wars. They'll be little doubt as to who's fighting for whom. Your units are precious - you've only got so many -and you'll want to look after them.
A Call To Arms
If you're familiar with Uprising you'll know that you had a myriad of units and weapons at your fingertips. And the sequel is no different. We've got a whole bunch of new weapons and units in Uprising 2 and we've included many of the original ones, confirms Eberhardt. We've spent much longer trying to get the balance right. We've taken out the death ray weapon that appeared in the first game because it was just too powerful; there was no real defence against it. But we've replaced it with a similar unit with similar capability and introduced another weapon - a sort of Patriot missile attack - that can knock it out.
Working out which weapons to use is like a great big puzzle. The idea is to really get you thinking and developing different strategies to deal with new challenges. We've also got a ballistic missile launcher with a nuclear facility. Uprising 2 has got to be the only game that enables you to nuke your enemy. It's got a really cool graphical effect, too.
Other improvements include the facility to dictate the type and number of units you deploy for each mission, and improved Al for both alien and allied units. We're trying to make sure it's more rewarding, says Kobler. Each mission is more cinematic, and the campaign is better structured; although you don't actually need to play your way through every level to finish the game.
We've also tweaked the Al - or should I say that we've done everything we can to make it better. It's as much about balancing as anything else. This time it's different for the enemy: this time they're aliens, so they behave differently; before, because you were fighting humans, it was basically the same.
When Two Tribes Go To War
As well as playing through the three campaigns and the quick-start missions, there will also be the facility to play against up to eight chums over a network or go head-to-head over the Internet.
We've spent a lot of time getting the multiplayer game rocking, maintains Eberhardt. Everybody here has been playing it in the office for some time now and we've been having a great time. It's great learning how to best use the new units and see how they face up to each other. We're about to be inundated with real-time strategy games over the next couple of months in the run-up to Christmas, so what do Cyclone think Uprising 2 has got that other games in the genre haven't?
Well, it's not really like other realtime strategy games because it's 3D, says Eberhardt. You're in the middle of a much hotter battlefield - you're actually closer to the action because you're right at the heart of it. In many ways there's more strategy, the action is definitely heavier, and you've got more decisions to make than before: CWhat units do I take with me?' CWhere do I deploy them?' CDo I go in guns blazing, or try stealth?' There are always two ways to play each mission; multiple paths to victory. But it's up to you. You're the guy at the front line. It's war, and you're stuck right in the middle of it all.
From what we've seen so far, fans of the original should not be disappointed come November. Uprising 2 certainly looks much better than its predecessor, it's more accessible, and there's a lot more going on than before. In a genre that's breaking new ground al) the time, it's difficult to predict just how Uprising 2 will fare against the myriad of other real-time strategy games that are due to hit the shelves in the next few months. One thing's for certain, however: if you're looking for something to fill the gap between Quake and C&C, Uprising 2 may be just the game you're looking for.
Download Uprising 2: Lead And Destroy
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Although Uprising was single-handedly responsible for the first-person action/real-time strategy genre (or FARTS, for short), there was one tiny problem: it wasn't very good. Or playable. So nobody bought it.
Not long after its release, Activision came up with Battiezone to try and make the FARTS concept a little more accessible. Like Uprising, it promised a delicious cocktail of the two most popular flavours - Quake-style action combined with Bed Alert - style strategy - but the final bottled product tasted like Dutch lager: Quake fans found it too weak, and the Red Alert crowd got addled and threw up In the airing cupboard. Uprising 2: Lead And Destroy attempts to change all that. The focus is now on story-based combat, with the micro-management of troops being handled entirely by the computer. This means that your support units and troops can at last get about by themselves and pick tights without you having to give them the go-ahead.
Candy For The Eye
Your enemy (the oddly named Trichordata Sauraformae Sapiens) aren't human, and your pursuit of them requires a good deal of interstellar trekking, hopping between planets and admiring of exotic alien landscapes. This is perhaps the most obvious departure from the previous instalment, where the bad guys were human and not quite so well-travelled.
With regard to visuals, gone are the plump sprites of old, and In their place are smart new polygonal replacements. The different planets, terrain and individual units are now easily distinguishable from one another, addressing a major criticism of the original game. Multiplayer is more powerful and configurable than before, feeling less of a bolt-on afterthought and more of an integral feature of the game. Up to eight players - twice the old maximum - can bash it out over TCP/IP, IPX, modem and direct serial connection.
The overall architecture of the game, while an obvious improvement, remains on the dull side and doesn't serve to excite or entice you during play. Adverse weather conditions, night effects and gorgeous sky textures are all welcome additions to the overall ambience, but on the whole it's like an early Spielberg flick - too dark and too gloomy. Inexcusably, the developers have built in support tor only Voodoo-based cards, meaning that other chipsets and the popular Riva TNT simply don't get a look in.
Same Name Same Game
Gameplay remains much the same, bar a tew changes to the interface. You still trundle around your customisable Wraith tank, capturing enemy citadels and harvesting their energy tor your own purposes. This is the core task of ail 36 missions and, despite a constantly evolving plot, can get a bit repetitive. A new feature, called Auto Suggestion, sounds like it could take the drudgery out of play, but is the equivalent of cheating: it makes the computer make the next-best move for you. It's a mystery as to why it's there.
In the previous game, you were able to distribute the tank's power throughout the various weaponry and defence systems, much like in the X-Wing series. That functionality has now been removed. And while newcomers won't know it's missing, old hands will bemoan its absence. You can also no longer assign different weapons to different turrets; instead, the first slot is assigned permanently to the first weapon, which can prove to be a bit of a bind.
Overall, Uprising is very playable and reasonably enjoyable, but it's really nothing special. It's too similar to its predecessor, doing nothing to enhance the genre that game created. For that reason we can't recommend it.
One of the founding fathers of the burgeoning strategy/action genre is returning to the fray with a sequel that looks to take a giant leap forward. With three campaigns spread across several planets, Uprising 2 takes the fight onto alien turf. The basic concept's more or less the same, though: You not only drive a tank-like command vehicle, cutting a path through the carnage in standard action style, but you also must switch to a tactical/resource-management view to create and deploy units to aid you in the fight. The graphics are already eye-catching, and Cyclone reports that its focus is on making the game much more playable by providing a better interface and deeper scenarios. Thanks to strong multiplayer support and a built-in level editor, Uprising 2 looks like a promising prospect.