Arena Wars
Developer: exDream
Publisher: Ascaron
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-8 online
Words By:

When you think of real time strategy most people automatically think of a lot of slow resource collecting and army building. But now here comes something for the quick in-and-out players amongst us.

So what makes Arena Wars a quicker, action-based RTS then? Well for starters you have the game types. Capture the flag, bombing run and double domination - you’ve probably seen these game types before. They’ve all been used in online first person shooters like Unreal Tournament 2003/2004, but very unusual for an RTS. Not only are the game types like online FPS but the single player style is the same, e.g. no story, just you play though the game types against various AI-controlled opponents over 60 missions. Here’s a quick run-through of what you have to do: Capture the flag; there’s a flag in each team’s base, grab your foe’s flag and bring it back to your base to score. Bombing run: there’s a bomb in the middle of the map, grab it and put it in the enemies’ base to blow him up. Double domination: there are two capture points on the map that you must hold for a set amount of time.

Anyone new to the game should try the handy tutorial that shows you what to do. Another new twist on the genre is how you build your army. For starters you only have $1000 and there are only 5 units. You can build a fair amount of units with your $1000, but you can’t gain any more money, the trick is once a unit gets destroyed you get the money back allowing you to keep the same amount of units. This system works well for a this style of RTS because you both have the same money at all times and rather than battling for more resources as in say Command & Conquer, you’ll be battling (intense battles I must say) for your objective. To get the edge over your opponents there are power ups and power plants. There are ‘power ups’ you can use on yourself (speed ups, more firepower or armour) and against your enemies (slow downs and virus’). The power plants can be destroyed to create a huge explosion within the enemy base which is a good strategy if the enemy is defending their base heavily.

The online play is well done, eight players can play at once with four more being able to observe – it’s also easy to use with some cool features. One being the ability to use your webcam to send video messages to your opponents that appear in the corner of their screens, very cool for sending visual taunts! The other is in-game voice chat, already seen on Xbox, PS2 and on pc with Half-Life and its mods, but it’s nice to see in other titles.

Graphically the game is nice, nothing really state of the art with older RTSs like C&C Generals looking much better. But it’s colourful and everything is clear. The units look pretty bland but the maps look nice. I have to say the explosions look pretty cool though, and after all isn’t that what it’s all about? Not much in the way of sound, a good voiceover for the tutorials and an Unreal-style announcer.

Overall Arena Wars is a decent attempt at changing the RTS genre. But I’d rather stick with resource management and hundreds of units instead of the small amount of units (and only 5 different types). If you’re looking for a more immediate blast then this will do just fine though.

Best Bits

- Tries to break the RTS mould.
- Instant action.
Worst Bits

- Average looking.
- Only 5 unit types.

by: SteMacD

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