It's the 21st century and the world's satellite defence system is on the fritz (no doubt the fault of some two-bit Microsoft operating system). Before anyone can shut the thing down and place a call to the helpdesk, the whole network goes ape and launches nukes at Washington, Moscow and Romford. Ground-based sites respond to the first two attacks, and minutes later zillions of people across the planet are busy comparing thermonuclear suntans. Hardly any survive the subsequent fallout, viral plagues and epidemics that sweep the land. Most of those who do pull through are content to live out the rest of their irradiated lives as scavengers, chugging around the countryside on rat bikes and getting into fights with anyone who isn't sporting a crimson Mohican. Only a few think about rebuilding the world to its former glory - people like you.
What It Is
Warzone 2100 is a superb realtime strategy game with a wondrous interface, impressive 3D graphics and a number of cute features that put it on a par with Total Annihilation. Yes, folks, that's right. What we have here is a game as involving, as appealing and as instantly accessible as the old Gavedog yardstick. Warzone2100 may not be quite as swish nor as kind to your CPU, but it does manage to combine frantic action with effortlessly engaging gameplay.
Set in the desolate wasteland of North America, you must seek out fresh resources, recover artefacts and fight your way through three separate campaigns and more than 30 different maps, while at the same time managing a sprawling base and its countless armies. Your base survives through each campaign section, so you don't have to keep starting from scratch each time you start up. What this does mean is that you have to plan ahead, and not be afraid of rearranging the base layout and bulldozing old structures when new ones become available.
The game is instantly delicious, with lush rotatable/zoomable terrain and a mellow orange smog that conceals everything beyond your range of vision. As with most other modern real-time games, the landscape affects the way your units move. Mills and muddy areas hinder tanks; roads and tracks help them. The polygonal structures that dominate the scenery are angular and reminiscent of TA, and when they explode they do so in a glorious carnival of light, smoke and noise.
What makes the game unique is the way you assemble your firepower. Instead of being presented with a huge range of exotic units, many of which never get to see the light of day, you research new technologies and then design the individual unit components piece by piece. Choose a body, a machine-gun and a set of wheels (tank tracks, hover engine and VTOL are also available, depending on how advanced your engineering department is), and then send the new design off to the factory for manufacture. Everything is interchangeable. Need to scan the battlefield for enemy squadrons? Swap the machine-gun turret for a dish and you've got yourself a mobile radar. Incoming battalion of foot soldiers? Change the dish for a flame-thrower and char-grill the buggers. Toss in different forms of propulsion, innumerable weaponry and vehicle frames and you have over 2000 different combinations to play with. You can even name the new designs and refer back to them later.
The Best Real-Timer Yet?
One of the areas where Warzone 2100 is better than Total Annihilation is in the Al. Sure, game developers are always going on about the 'next generation' of artificial intelligence, but British development team Pumpkin Studios have finally put their programming skills where their mouth is and created the most astute troops on a real-time battlefield. Don't believe me? Let's take an example. When you command your tanks to guard another unit, such as a construction truck, they turn into a formidable team of armoured bodyguards. On the move, they don't trundle 50 yards behind and turn up 20 seconds too late, they go out front and sweep the way clean. When asked to protect a structure, they don't sit still or circle it pointlessly, they actively hunt down all enemy units that pose a threat.
Additionally, the interface includes several predefined routines and responses that have been borrowed from Activision's chunky-but-funky Dark Reign. This means that you can control how your troops react to various combat situations - you can set one group of tanks to retreat when they sustain a medium amount of damage, and have another keep on plugging to the last. There are also several 'one-click' actions such as returning to base for repair or patrolling an area, which makes directing your troops in the heat of battle simplicity itself.
Warzone 2100 is due for release about the same time as C&C: Tiberian Sun. While there's a certain reverence that accompanies any new Westwood product, Warzone is final proof that they've fobbed us off once too often. Last I heard, Tiberian Sun ms supposed to be with us last Christmas - and the last time I played Red Alert was the Christmas before that. What's more, the new GSCgame has been built with Voxels, an old technology that no longer makes the grade in a world full of Pentium processors and Voodoo chipsets. Tib Sun will probably be up to the 'usual' standard, but will it be up to the new standard? Until recently I'd have said yes, but now I'm not so sure.
What You Need
The HQ of your base, which furnishes your display with a radar screen and intelligence reports. One of the first things you need to build.
A familiar site to the average Texan, the derricks extract resources from natural oil deposits deep underground. As with most real-time strategy games, control of these structures is key to your success.
The factory constructs the units you design and specify. Factories are graded depending on size, and produce increasingly powerful weapons. Ttoo interesting features are the ability to set constant production and to send new units to anywhere on the map.
Power generators convert the oil resources into energy for your base and fleet of vehicles. Like pretty much everything else in the game, they can be upgraded.
Research facilities take artefacts recovered from the wastelands and turn them into sophisticated technologies that can be integrated into new units and then employed on the battlefield.
Download Warzone 2100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Warzone 2100 Screenshots and Media
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