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Hegemonia: Legions of Iron Review
developer: Digital Reality
PIII 600, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 550MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 13, 02 (released)
|» All About Hegemonia: Legions of Iron on ActionTrip|
When one speaks of a space-based RTS, it is inevitable to mention the game that practically defined the genre. We should all give credit to that game for what it did, but after all these years it is finally time to move on and turn to the future, so I'll do my best to avoid mentioning it in this text (The author is referring to Homeworld of course - Ed). Hegemonia: Legions of Iron is a 3D space strategy featuring all the best features of its genre, and what's more, introducing some RPG elements to it thanks to the creativity of Digital Reality (Imperium Galactica 1 and 2). The plot and the entire universe are d'ją vu, but the way they were packed up hints a great future for space RTSs.
Streak of blue lightning.
Damn, these particle effects are really cool.
The story goes as follows: in exactly twelve years from now, the human colonists on Mars start a war for independence against Earth. The colonists have more advanced technologies than terrans, but the latter are more numerous, which in the long run imposes a balance between the two. At that precise moment, an alien race appears, bent on controlling the solar system (You're right about the story being d'ją vu -- Ed). The game features four races: Humans from Earth and Humans from Mars, available in the single-player campaign, along with two alien races available in multiplayer only. Whichever you choose, you will have to try damn hard to fulfill all the tasks ahead of you. You can start either by playing the Earth or the Mars campaign. The beginning of each mission will unravel a part of the story and give you the quests you have to fulfill. The quests are not always achievable by destroying all enemy forces, and the missions will frequently contain unexpected twists. Both these things substantially improve playability.
Hegemonia is a full-blown strategy game: you have to collect resources, inhabit planets and satellites, increase your population, collect taxes, construct space-ships and finance research in order to advance through the game. Achieving this is far from simple because you'll always have someone breathing down your neck on the way, and developing random technologies and just building a few ships will not get you anywhere. Still, if you set your priorities right according to the mission goals, you might succeed in gathering the necessary forces in a reasonable time and win. So, simply forget about the idea to use uniform tactics throughout the entire game... the missions are basically linear, but the possibility of applying different strategic solutions in each mission will make this fact practically irrelevant. The missions are also well linked to each-other, which makes you associate with the main characters and feel like you're watching a TV-series or something, rather than playing a game. To enhance this even further, the developers introduced heroes who gain experience and improve the characteristics of population or units where they are stationed. Ordinary units are capable of gaining experience too, and this can prove crucial in later battles. Still, there is one big problem about this all; once you go to the next mission, you can only choose a handful of your crafts and heroes. You do get to keep your colonies but without anything else on them. I really believe that this sort of limitation was completely uncalled for.
Hegemonia is also interesting because you get to control several planets, possibly even in different systems at the same time, which will require you to think and act fast and smart. At one point I had to sacrifice a colony in one system in order to preserve strategically more important colonies in others. The game will keep the tension until the very end of each mission, and you will never be able to surely tell whether you are winning or not.
The interface is practical and unobtrusive which makes playing this game a real charm. You can reach any desired information with but a few mouse clicks, and the little info-window in the top left corner contains all the vital data for you to see anyway. The enemy tends to act really smart, but after a couple of times you will start figuring out patterns in its behavior.
Get a load of the interface.
Look at all the purty lights.
The strategic map is in semi-3D, and is in most situations legible enough to provide normal gameplay. Still, when you get more ships in a relatively small area at the same time, you better just switch to the normal 3D view. This map will mostly be used for issuing orders and developing strategies.
The best aspect of this game is its graphics. Hegemonia takes place in a rich and versatile 3D space; the space ships all have a great number of polygons, and excellent textures specific for each race, and the planets look highly realistic. There are few planets around, but the various asteroids and space debris will make up for this. The structure animations are very nice, and the explosions look absolutely spectacular, especially when you zoom in. The Walker graphics engine supports fantastic particle effects, and it has been developed for more than a year.
The camera can be freely moved about, but this can also sometimes turn against you - the problem with confusing camera angles in fully 3D space settings is becoming all too common. Watching the battles in this game is really a great experience... even more so if you win. Another upside to the whole thing is that the game is not overly demanding and that even the owners of somewhat older computers can turn all visual effects to maximum and enjoy the show.
The sound effects are practically as good as the graphics; well, all except for a few rather amateurish voices with distinct foreign accents, which may sound ridiculous at times. Then again, the space ships would have multinational crews, wouldn't they? The music is perfectly becoming; it will dynamically respond to the action on screen and further improve the otherwise excellent atmosphere.
Finally, there's also the multiplayer mode, supporting up to eight players over LAN or internet. The best thing about it is the skirmish mode, which lets you spring directly into action with fully developed units and heroes. The normal multiplayer mode is extremely interesting and tense, and I believe that we will soon have a decent number of Hegemaniacs crowding the Gamespy Arcade.
Hegemonia: Legions of Iron is an interesting game and it did give me hours and hours of fun, but it would be too much to say that it features anything revolutionary new. All possible gameplay aspects have simply been crammed in along with the RPG elements in order to create a pretty good game whose minor flaws do not affect overall playability. All this together with the great graphics, sound and a fairly interesting plot with a couple of twists makes this game worthy of my recommendation.
8.3 Very Good
Exceptional graphics, effects, sounds, upgrade possibilities, RPG elements; the game world is immersive enough to hold your attention and keep the gameplay fun and interesting;
You virtually have to start from scratch at the beginning of each mission (you can't transfer most of your fleet, or heroes from previous missions); the strategic map can get illegible. Some amateurish voice acting, camera can get a bit confusing at times.
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