|E3 1998 Strategy Roundup
by Maurice Fitzgerald
E3 was in
Atlanta, but that didn't stop Combatsim writers who descended en masse like a SEAL boat crew to attack our objective. Our objective was to bring you, the reader, all the latest intel on everything coming down the pike this year in the way of military simulations and strategy games. Nothing could stand in the way of our goal!
Unlike a SEAL team, we got to indulge in some of the "sweeter" things in life along the way, such as trying out games in pre-alpha and schmoozing with other people in the industry. Of course, the eye candy wasn't bad either (I know the Editor didn't enjoy it much but hey, I sure did!).
With my first step inside the Georgia World Congress Center I was immediately assaulted by a wall of sight and sound. It was like being in Santas workshop with elves gone wild as publishers and PR "babes" handed out demos like they were going out of style. The noise level was near deafening by certain booths, (Eidos comes to mind) and you couldn't help but get swept up in the euphoria of games mania. But if that wasn't enough to get your juices flowing, taking a step inside Sierra's, Activision's or Microprose's booths would!
But before I go ANY further: SCOOP! Mark Long at Zombie wants you all to know that Spec Ops 2 will be Green Berets, and not Navy Seals as originally planned. We'll have more info on this new sim as soon as we can get a stranglehold on Mark ;-D. If you've met Mark, you know this involves a certain challenge! (Can I have my arm back now, Mark?)
With storylines continuing in the Earthsiege universe under the new title Starsiege, Sierra's soon to be seen title looks like a great successor to an already popular storyline. Activision's new addition to the Heavy Gear universe, HG II looked extremely promising in its pre-alpha stage. Microprose and Zipper throw down the gauntlet in the mech genre with their addition to the Battletech universe, Mechwarrior 3 which is scheduled to hit shelves in spring of 1999. All in all it looks real promising for us mecha fans out there.
Back in the really-real world there's plenty on tap and some of these titles look like must haves. Sierra's upcoming real-time strategy game SWAT 2 gives us a crack at being in charge of the "bad boys" of the LAPD SWAT teams.
If that doesn't appeal to you maybe
playing the role of terrorist does, as SWAT 2 will allow you to play either
side in this very realistic sim. Empire Interactive will also be bringing
us a turn based strat game called 101, 101st Airborne in Normandy, due
date October of this year. Using a similar top down perspective as the
Close Combat series, you will lead a squad of the old 101st through 30 missions as well as multiplayer.
To step back into the science fiction genre for a moment again us mecha fans have a lot to be thankful for. With the combined efforts of Microprose and FASA Interactive we will be able to take full tactical control of a Battlemech unit in the upcoming real-time strategy release Mech Commander. If you have the bandwidth I strongly urge you to get the demo, it's well worth the 116 meg download!
Another alternative in the mecha genre is the second in the Earthsiege strategy series with the sequel to the hit Mission Force: Cyberstorm, Cyberstorm 2: Corporate Wars. Both titles look outstanding and at the present time I cannot discern which I like better, decisions... decisions! It's great to have so much to have to play to decide isn't it?
Eidos also throws us a curve ball by taking some time away from Lara Croft and bringing us what looks to be an excellent real-time strat sim called "Commandos". Set in World War II this games strengths lie not only in its pristine graphics but its need for a tactical approach from the gamers standpoint. The commandos you are in charge of can do everything from scuba, climb walls, and set explosives as real world commandos would do. One of the coolest little things I love about this game is the way you can "take out" sentries quietly with a knife and then pick him up and hide him behind a building so as to not alert any of the other guards. Nice attention to detail.
In the first person shooter arena we also have alot to look forward to with titles by Redstorm Entertainment, TS Group and Novalogic. Novalogic has decided to forego the 3DFX approach for to ring in their first release with the brand new Voxel Space 3 terrain imaging system. Using this approach Novalogic will be bringing us viewable and useable terrain like those in a flight sim, in which the players can "see" great distances.
Novalogics first entry with Voxel3 will be Delta Force. This one looks like a LOT of fun.. More on this later, for now check out this early screen:
TS Group of Moscow will be bringing us "Private Wars" with a tentative Christmas release. TS Group founder Sergey Titov took some time to speak with me at E3 and show me the technology demo hilighting the games real world terrain and physics modeling of all in world objects. From the initial demo shown I was impressed with what TS Group is doing with the terrain. There were no forest "blocks" seen, just individual trees and foliage which the player can walk through. (no, you can't walk through the trees, just the bushes) this should make for interesting gameplay.