Blasting onto the scene of real-time combat games is the Bitmap Brothers' latest shooter, Z. The time is in the not-so-distant future. The place is on various fictional planets where you are in command of a league of ruthless, party-animal, twisted, cowboy-looking robots primed and ready to take over the galaxy. That's about the extent of the story line, as Z is geared for Duke Nukem-caliber bloodfests and humor.
Z has the same feel as games like Command & Conquer and Close Combat, but with a few interesting twists. While other games of this genre have tried hard to make combat realistic and believable, Z adds a little spice and humor to the slaughtering of masses. Compared to the other games in its class, Z is simple and easy to play, and it is obvious that the main goal is to get the player into some major slaughterfests as soon as possible.
The storyline is really just for laughs and the characters are cartoonish robots who act like they are always partying between massive bloodbaths. It is your job to progress through a multitude of missions (C&C style) to eventually wipe your worthless foe from the reaches of the universe. Each mission gets harder and lots of interesting weapons are obtained before you finally win the ultimate battle. Or ... if you are not into beating up on your poor computer, you can work on your relationships with your friends as you smash their little robot faces to dust. Z supports a four-player network mode or connection via modem. Hopefully you are getting the idea; Z is high on action and low on storyline ... a real planetary ego-romp.
The gameplay and interface for Z is very similar to that of Command & Conquer, and there are no surprises here. You look down on your overhead map and select units to take to battle; it's very easy to pick up, and you shouldn't need the manual.
If C&C is your favorite game, you will be disappointed with Z. There is no base building in the game; in fact, you can't build any structures, which makes it obvious that the Bitmap Brothers wanted to remove everything that got in the way of pure death and destruction. So you are limited to units (troops and armor) and the bases and structures supplied when you start each new mission. There are flags posted at various strategic points on the battlefield (usually where there are structures), the capture of which should be the player's goal. Once you capture a flag, the associated building is yours to use, but beware—the enemy lurks near to snatch it back from you.
The ultimate goal is to lay siege on the enemy's base (located at the opposite end of the battlefield, of course) and destroy it, causing your robots to tap a victory keg and act like tin egomaniacs as they party their way to the next mission. There are four missions per planet, then you fly off to a new planet (with new planetary graphics) to cause more death and destruction.
I am an avid C&C player, and by far that is my favorite overhead war sim. But Z has its good points, and it does some things that I found to be a refreshing change. For instance, the simplicity is great, especially if you just want to cause havoc for a half-hour, then move on to something else. The missions are not really that long, and the simple idea of "capture the flag" kept me playing longer than I would have expected. On the other hand, unlike C&C, you can't sit down for hours and engross yourself in strategic and interesting scenarios. In the long run, Z is dry, and the humor and cut scenes are repetitive and get old after a while. Of course, you can remedy this with some good old-fashioned network play ... fire up those modems!
The graphics are great, done in SVGA, and are very smooth. When structures and units explode, the particles fly up in the air, giving the player a really neat 3D effect. Of course, realism gives way to Wile E. Coyote-style fluff at this point and you realize just how fragile the battlefield really is. In fact, there is a setting where the player can decide just how much explosion debris he/she wants during the game. I found it amusing to blow through canyons and cliffs and watch the debris fly into the air, only to land on and squish my unsuspecting foe. The cut-scenes in Z are nicely done, but they get repetitive fast, and you won't be amused by them for long. Overall, the graphics are nicely done.
Standard fare here. Good sound, lots of shooting and dying, etc. Nothing much to say here ... or to write home about.
Just fine for the simplicity of this game. I used it mostly to look up the different units to see which ones were better for certain situations, etc. I really liked the detail in this area.
486-66 MHZ processor, 8 MB RAM, MS-DOS 6.0 or greater, VGA Graphics Adapter, 20 MB free hard disk space, 2X CD ROM, Microsoft compatible mouse
The game ran fine on my P-100 with 32 MB of RAM.
Z is fun, Z is amusing, Z is simple, Z made me laugh (albeit momentarily); Z is action-packed, Z has nice graphics, Z was on my hard drive for more than a week. But Z is not Command & Conquer -- case closed. I just can't get all that juiced over a game that inevitably gets pitted against the ultimate. For its good points, I give Z a 78 out of 100, and hey, if you just want to kill something, go get Z. Who needs to build a base anyway?
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
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