The Tone Rebellion is a real time strategy game developed by The Logic Factory, makers of the underrated Ascendancy. In this game you will play the part of one of four alien races bent on taking back their lands from the evil Leviathan. It's a classic good vs. evil story, and exceedingly well done. The land has been split into a number of islands - separated and being overrun by the Leviathan and it's minions. You will harvest Tone, the energy fluid of the lands and fight for survival. The Leviathan is corrupting the pools of Tone, and once depleted the lands will fall into ruin.
Graphics are lovely, each land having it's own look and feel to it. The creatures themselves have a distinctive and alien look to them. Animation is also excellent, the beings float to and fro as you direct their actions by issuing orders for construction, etc. The sound effects are good, but the music is something really different. It's like nothing you have heard before, enchanting, strange, and haunting. It fits right in with the alien theme.
Basic gameplay is similar to most real time games, with a few nice differences. You will start with a small plot of land containing your own Tone pool and a home base. Harvesting the Tone, you can create different structures that form the Tone to your specifications. Structure Tone allows you to build, Crystal Tone feeds your fighting force, and Magic Tone fuels Magic spells and the like. Building Tone spreaders allow you to see more of the land in your vicinity, so you can expand on and take back those areas. In those areas you will find more Tone pools, spaces to build, artifacts, and of course, enemies. Properly trained troops will have certain fighting abilities that allow you to smite the evil Leviathan. As you explore and build, the Leviathan will send spores your way that will corrupt your Tone and eventually decimate your people. Run out of Tone, and it's all over. Your basic job is to fight back the evil, and uncover artifacts that allow you to expand. You will uncover bridges that can only be unlocked by using artifact keys. These keys allow you to use the bridges and expand to the next land. Take it over, then expand again. In your travels, you will uncover even more bizarre and strange artifacts and knowledge. Reunite the lands, and you win. Multiplayer is also included, up to four people may unite against a common foe. Options include modem, serial, IPX, and Internet TCP/IP.
The interface is a simple point and click. Choose a plot of land to build, the select a structure. Your workers will build. build fighting troops, and they can be directed to fight, defend, and guard. Higher level troops take more Tone to build and use. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the game is learning it. The manual comes with a tutorial that is detailed up to a point, then stops and leaves you hanging. The on screen interface looks alien, which goes with the theme of the game but does not allow easy understanding of the commands. Simple tool tips would have been appreciated. The manual also does not explain certain things clearly. For instance, I found that at one point my workers simply stopped building. It was not stressed in the manual that there was a limit to the number of structures you are allowed per Tone pool. When I reached that point in the game, no on screen messages told me why no construction was taking place. And if you make a mistake, you can only switch off buildings to gain power back. It took a lot of trial and error before I discovered that fact. Once you get used to the interface, it works just fine. Until then, it can prove quite frustrating. The Tone Rebellion is an entertaining game, fun to play and rewarding. The learning curve is worth the effort, but may turn some people off at first.
Bottom Line: Good game with options to play as any of four alien races. A different slant on the real time genre. Confusing interface coupled with a not so thorough manual makes the game more difficult to learn than necessary. Worth the time to learn it, though.
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