Urban Assault has the traditionally downbeat setting of a post-apocalyptic world in which armies of humans and aliens do battle in a fearsome array of computer-controlled killing machines.
The game breaks down into a series of missions as you work your way across a map of the world in ffisk-like fashion. Each mission starts with a briefing and can have more than one objective (including defusing a bomb in about three minutes), but essentially they boil down to seizing Key Sectors and then legging it out through the Beam Gate which only opens when all Key Sectors are destroyed. (As well as single-player combat, Urban Assault has LAN and Internet combat options.)
The feel of the gameplay in Urban Assault is very much the style of Dune II, Red Alert and friends - for spices and minerals, read power stations. You start each section with a limited number of vehicles. You can build more, but this requires energy, and to boost your energy you need to seize the enemy's power stations. You may not be able to see these at first as you can only see zones you have entered and captured. So far so familiar. However, moving your pieces around the board is only part of the game. At key moments you have to leap into action with a cry of Tallyho, chaps, follow me." You are constantly urged to get your hands (and, let's face it, your trousers) dirty by getting involved in the combat - "No Al can match the intangibles of human leadership, the hints page insists. This was not a view many of my units seemed to share.
Time For Action
Once your units have gone into action, you can get involved either by simply entering a drone vehicle and getting stuck in, or by electing to be a squad leader, in which case the units in that squad will follow you around. The fools.
You can return to the Host Station (a sort of control tower) at any stage to take up the reins of strategy once more. And therein lies one of the tricks of the game: your units definitely benefit from you being around (provided you're not me), but it's all too easy to get immersed in a thrilling fire fight while elsewhere in the war zone your Host Station is being mercilessly pulverised.
Combat itself is simple but absorbing; though 'absorbing' isn't quite the word to accurately describe the instant you join: one moment you're calmly studying the contours of a map, the next you're sitting inside a tank hurtling towards a squadron of enemy helicopters while being shelled from above.
Walk Before You Run
Essentially, Urban Assault has taken the basic but addictive strategy of games like C&C and Dune 2 and added a straightforward arcade game to it Initially I thought that they'd mucked it up, because at first sight the game looks too complex. But whose fault is that? Who didn't bother to play all the training missions? Well, exactly. But once you've worked through those, the game is pretty straightforward.
It also gets pretty hard very quickly (although there are Simple Missions which you can install), and even after you've mastered all the controls it can be confusing. But I guess that's half the point.
Where Urban Assault really scores Is In the atmosphere. The intro screens set the scene well, and the combat sequences are genuinely frenetic and exciting. The graphics in the arcade scenes are fairly basic but well-executed - the WWI tanks are great. It also has the right level of addictiveness. As your well-trained units collapse around you, you're already working out how you're going to do things differently next time and can't wait to get started again. And that is precisely what I'm off to donow.
Download Urban Assault
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode