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Savage: The Battle for Newerth Preview
developer: S2 Games
PIII 1000, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 09, 03 (released)
|» All About Savage: The Battle for Newerth on ActionTrip|
S2 Games is trying to rise to the oft-heard challenge issued by gamers: Publishers refuse to take chances by creating new game genres. Savage is due for release at the end of August and is being touted as the first RTSS (Real Time Strategy-Shooter). Take the First Person Shooter we are all (overly) familiar with, add in a dash of team vs. team excitement with support for up to 64 players and add a liberal amount of Real Time Strategy elements including resource harvesting, research of new weapons, different units, building construction and placement and you have barely scratched the surface of Savage.
Me jump down! Find woman now!
The Stronghold burns!
As far as the storyline goes, Savage: The Battle for Newerth plunges players deep into a whole new world and mythology that takes place in the future. This time we're treated to a somewhat interesting slice of the usual tale of futuristic civilizations being torn by nuclear wars. After causing a catastrophe with weapons of massive destruction, the once proud and technologically advanced human race is now forced to live like cavemen once again, struggling to reclaim their technologies in a nuclear aftermath. Forming the so-called Legion of Man, humans are left to survive against many dangers in this new world they created themselves. Many new and strange animal species and hideous mutations have evolved from the radiation. These are called the Beast Horde, and are considered to be the man's ultimate foe.
In order for the battles to run properly, each side needs a leader. To make all this work, one of your teammates is the Commander. Before the map begins, one player steps up and volunteers to guide the progress of your team. Players get to vote on who takes the Commander role before the match begins. As the Commander runs around the map, he must split his time between combat with the enemy and deciding on the overall strategy for the current map; what weapons to research, the base layout, and defense placement and order issues for the team members. If, during the game, you think your commander does not cut the mustard, you can call for an impeachment vote and replace him with someone else (out you go, buddy! that's democracy for ya. - Ed. Vadar). It is a system that is similar to the one Microsoft tried in a game called Allegiance back in 1999. The Commander is critical to your side winning the game. If he does not effectively split his time between research, base building and resource gathering and chooses instead to concentrate on combat, you are going to loose. Upgrades are critical to getting a leg up on the other team and if your commander is not doing his job, your side is going to get spanked and spanked hard as you fall further and further behind in the arms race. Likewise, if orders issued by the Commander to the players are not followed, his plan for victory will not be realized. In a nutshell, teamwork is key...
There are two sides to choose from - The Legion of Man and The Beast Horde. Each side starts with a base unit that has a simple hand-to-hand attack and a weak ranged attack. Upgrades are made available to the player through the Commander researching and building structures that allow access to new technology and units. In order for research to take place the Commander must have money that is gained by harvesting gold at different points around the map. Most harvesting is done by resource gatherers that are 'built' by the Commander, but when you are just getting started, players are often ordered by the Commander to pitch in and lend a hand until the infrastructure is built up. This could include harvesting resources or helping to build structures. Once upgrades become available, the player can obtain new weapons and items when you spawn after dying or by heading back to the Town Center and reequipping. The player must have enough money to gain upgraded weapons and equipment. Money for the player is earned by dispatching enemy players or NPC creatures. If the player does not have enough money for an upgrade, he can make a request to the Commander who, if he decides to grant the item to the player, must pay for it out of the money used for buildings and research.
Eeek! The Martians are coming!
Can he go the distance? Hm, with those legs? Hell yeah!
Both Beast horde units and Legion of Man units have their advantages and disadvantages. The Humans, even though they've lost most of their technology after the nuclear war, can use a variety of ranged weapons to fight the beasts. So, apart from the hunting bow, crossbow, and the like, they can upgrade to high-tech weaponry such as the mortar, incinerator, launcher, repeater, pulse cannon, scattergun, etc - all of which differ in power and range. The Beasts, on the other hand, may not possess the skills to use such weapons, but they were gifted with several magical abilities that can help them conjure up various effective ranged attacks. Any weapon, wielded by the Beast horde units come from one of the three available spheres of magic - Strata, Fire, and Entropy. Thanks to their particular skills and unique culture, it's safe to say that both sides have a fair chance at winning. This aspect of the game is very well balanced.
Savage also has a bit of Role Playing thrown in for good measure as well. As you run around dispatching players and NPC creatures or help build up the base, you gain experience. After enough experience is gained, you obtain new levels, which give your character more abilities such as armor, better agility to avoid attacks or increased damage when you hit. Combat switches between first and third person views depending on what kind of weapon you currently wield. Use any ranged weapon, be it a bow or rifle, and the game switches you to first person mode so you can better aim. If you are using a hand-to-hand weapon like a sword, the game runs in third person view so you can bob and weave around your opponent as you try to find the right time to strike.
Even though the game is still in beta, it is fun to play and runs smooth. Graphically, the game stays true to its exotic theme. The Legion of Man units look like tribal nomads. The default unit has two small hand axes that are used for attack and construction. Upgraded units, like the Savage for example, have more hit points, carry a large scimitar and look like Conan the Barbarian. The Beast Horde characters lope around the field like wolf men. Upgraded units get larger and more furious looking. Of course, the distinction between the two sides is more than just cosmetic. The Legion of Man's upgrades are based on technology to an extent, while the Beast Horde use magical attacks and employ fierce animal units. The maps range from frigid arctic environments to lush savannah plains complete with waving grass. Both sides have been balanced and no one unit seems to have an advantage over another. Rather, each unit has a specific role depending on the kind of tactic you want to employ. In all, considering that we're looking at a multiplayer game, the visuals seem more than pleasing.
S2 Games has so far lived up to their claims of creating a new genre. As they add the final polish to the game (hopefully a single player training mode so people do not have to learn how to be a Commander in real games online) in anticipation of the August release, players can look forward to a game that has incorporated several familiar elements, as well as offering something refreshing and enjoyable to play.
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