Real-time Strategy on the Dreamcast. - Review By Retrovertigo - Page 1/2
I haven't always been a console video game fan. Throughout most of the 90s, I traded in the video game controller and the familiar cartridge format, for a keyboard, a mouse, and 3 1/4 floppy discs (which later became CD-ROMS). The reason behind my dissention to the PC that was because I was growing bored with the same old action, side-scrolling platformer. There were only so many times that developers could reinvent the wheel, and as soon as I experienced the adventure and strategy genres of gaming that were pretty much reserved for the PC, I fell in love, and stopped playing video games in a quest for entertainment of a less "arcadey" orientation.
Of course, the video game consoles got their ports of adventure games like King's Quest V, but they just weren't as enjoyable with a video game controller - at the time.
It seemed that gamers who had a video game console and a decent PC to play computer games, experienced the best of both worlds when it came to gaming. For the longest time, there were specific genres on both the PC and on consoles that worked well on one format, but didn't work well on the other. The PC's more popular genres seemed to be the simulators, real-time strategy games (RTS), adventure games, first-person shooters, and anything that had the term "online multiplayer." Video game consoles, on the other hand, excelled in fighting games, action platformers, RPGs, sports games, and anything that seemed to have a fast-paced arcade feel to it.
Popular console games like the PlayStation's Final Fantasy VII did very well in the console market, but when it was ported to the PC, the game wasn't a very popular title amongst PC gamers, and didn't receive the same praise that the console version did.
When Quake III: Arena was first ported from the PC to the Dreamcast, many people were skeptical of the game's controls. Many traditional PC first-person shooter fans, laughed at the absurdity of controlling a game like Q3A with anything but a mouse and keyboard - and of course, Sega made sure that the Dreamcast mouse and keyboard were compatible with the Dreamcast port.
A complex PC game like Microsoft Flight Simulator would almost be an impossibility on a video game format, because of the sheer complexity of the game, and would require a video game controllers with 101 buttons.
The real-time strategy genre is a format that hasn't really struck it big on the video game console format. It is mostly a genre reserved to the PC market through games like the Command & Conquer series, Warcraft, and Starcraft. However, Ubi Soft has gone out on a limb and created a real-time strategy game, with hopes to hook Dreamcast gamers in with their real-time strategy game, Conflict Zone.
For any gamer who has played any of the Westwood Studios real-time strategy games like the Command & Conquer or Red Alert games will immediately recognize a familiar look and feel while playing Conflict Zone.
For one, Conflict Zone allows you to choose which faction you want to control when starting a new campaign. Your choices are simple: The ICP (which stands for International Corps for Peace, and not for Insane Cloud Posse) - the "good guys", or you can choose to play as The GHOST, a troublesome group of multinational corporations and independent countries who are always ready to provoke crisis situations (a.k.a. the bad guys).
Both of the campaigns consist of 16 missions each, which slowly increase in difficulty as you work your way through them.
Graphically, Conflict Zone is a step ahead of Westwood Studio's games, as their current Red Alert title is still using a 2D engine. Conflict Zone uses a 3D engine for everything from the terrain to the military vehicles and personnel, which is commendable even though the game is not the most visually stunning game to hit the Dreamcast.
Any fan of real-time strategy games on the PC may be skeptical to try Conflict Zone because of the complex controls that many strategy games rely on. However, Ubi Soft has tried to remedy this by making the game compatible with the Dreamcast's controller. It will take awhile to get used to selecting units and constructing buildings, while juggling multiple battles - and I was the biggest skeptic about this problem going into this review - but it was actually more convenient as I got used to it and progressed through the game.
I like to think of Conflict Zone as being a "lite" version of a PC real-time strategy. Many of the necessary requirements, like resources and money for training new soldiers and constructing new military vehicles and base add-ons, is all controlled automatically through media feedback, which will either help or hurt your popularity, which will either skyrocket your resources or slow them to a crawl. Without the public support, your campaign may crumble before your eyes, under the wrath of your opponent. With resources being controlled by your media perception, this allows you to focus more on upgrading your base and making sure you have enough soldiers and vehicles, without having to really juggle with the problematic resource management that many PC gamers must succumb to.
Constructing new buildings for your base is another part of the game that has been simplified from the PC RTS genre. In games like Warcraft and Command & Conquer you could build your base just about anywhere you please. With Conflict Zone your area is more restricted and is defined by highlighted areas when you request the construction of a new add-on. Real-time strategy purists may find this to be a weak point, but it helps keep the game simple, and you don't have to worry about spreading your bases out too widely.
The game also gives you the ability to save a game at any point, which is really convenient, particularly in extremely difficult situations.
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