Car Owners Among You Will Be Well aware of the agony involved in buying a new motor. It's not so much the 15-year finance deals or the ill-mannered salesmen, more that the indicator stalk in your new car is always on the 'wrong' side: where you once flashed your headlights, you now squirt water; what used to sound the horn now opens the sun roof and catapults your passenger into the path of oncoming traffic. And blow me if it isn't exactly the same with computers. Just as you've got used to one game, along comes another with all its controls in peculiar places - R to go left, Z to go right? Are the cursor keys uncool or something? If only there was a standard, things would be so much less stressful.
A case in point
Armor Command may share the same floor plan as Red Alert, but it's an altogether more confusing thing to drive. Take the simple task of selecting a unit: you need two hands - one to hold down shift, the other to right-click with the mouse. Right-click by itself designates a target (although the enemy needs to be within firing range or nothing will happen), and control plus left-click leaves waypoints.
To transport tanks, you now have to hold down shift, and right-click on the carrier vehicle, then right-click on the individual cargo units and nurse them in, one by one. Clumsy. What's wrong with selecting multiple units and then clicking the transporter? Where the C&C interface is a model of effortlessness, Armor Command makes you feel like you're going round the houses the whole time.
But what's it about?
Ah yes, the plot. It's the 30th century and you command one of two armies, building buildings and managing resources in a manner to which every game player on the planet should now be accustomed. The United Terran Forces are the good guys with dazzling smiles and Santa Clara accents; the Vrass Slavers are the bad guys who rape old ladies and vote Communist.
Forty-eight missions usher you through the game, and the story evolves nicely. The trouble is that everything moves along at a snail's pace and it soon gets boring; the journey may be scenic but it's all too familiar. While there's a menu option to increase the speed of play, it still suffers from the same problem as Bottlezone - the units look odd rather than ominous, so there's no adrenalin when you encounter them and no satisfaction when you destroy them. In fact, it's all rather bland.
Bells and whistles
The game engine has four camera positions, enabling you to see the battlefield in traditional top-down or third-person views. The top-down angles are best and enable you to roam freely over the landscape; the others are a gimmick, an attempt to move Armor Command from feeling like an entry model to one that's top-of-the-range. Unfortunately it doesn't work. Put simply, its ride feels five years old and the driving position is flawed. And that's about it.
Download Armor Command
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode