Gromada Download (1999 Puzzle Game)

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Developed by Buka Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks, Gromada is an action-shooter, arcade-style game. You begin playing as a tank called Kassandra and work to defeat the enemy aliens who have taken over your artificial planet, Gromada, a testing site for new military units.

While the game has a very unique and impressive story behind it, you don't actually see evidence of the story during gameplay. In retrospect, the story seems to serve as manual filler; you can, for all purposes, disregard it unless you're looking for some new reading material.

With the non-essential story, what's left is really just a fun (albeit a bit mindless and simplistic) arcade action title. While the game is billed as a strategy tank game, it's actually more correctly described as a top-down action game. Your goal in any given mission is to simply move around the world and destroy the enemy.

At times, the enemy AI seems too powerful as the computer rarely misses and one shot will kill you. In some areas, this makes playing somewhat difficult as you can trap yourself in small, tight, dead-end locations on the map, unable to escape the deadly single shot that spells doom. A nice blend of different enemy attacks would have added much to the game in the area of playability.

Missions in Gromada seem to be fairly standard. A mission-briefing screen appears and lists the steps you must take to complete the mission, basically consisting of details on which enemy you must defeat in order to continue. In general, though, the mission screens are quite bland but serve their somewhat singular purpose well.

You can actually play Gromada from start to finish using four keys (and up to four more to switch weapons). Due to the easy controls and lack of blood (there is destruction), even novice gamers can pick up the game and play successfully if they can find the arrow keys and use their mouse buttons.

For those who enjoy mindless action games like Asteroids or Missile Command, Gromada may well be quite enjoyable -- just don't look for any meaningful plot or story.

Graphics: The view is top-down from an overhead perspective, an aspect that really helps in spotting enemies before you drive Kassandra right in front of them. The land is full of alien plant-life and lots of green goop to traverse with your tank. The explosions that result from attacking the enemy are well done, as pieces of them go flying with accompanying fire. The graphics tend to be a bit higher-scale than many action arcade-type games. Overall, the levels and objects in Gromada are friendly looking yet effective.

Sound: The sound is probably the biggest disappointment, as there just isn't anything significantly new. The game simply has average explosions, lasers, bleeps and tire-turning noises. With the massive size of the explosions, one would expect equally massive sounds rather than the "pop, sizzle, fizz" that you get. There is no music and, after a period of time, the sound becomes rather repetitious.

Enjoyment: As an action shooter, Gromada fits the bill and wears the title well. If you can stick with the game past your first few attempts at missions where you'll most likely find yourself getting frequent "one hit and your dead" endings, the game is enjoyable to play. After spending some time learning to strafe left and right to avoid enemy shots, you can actually enjoy the challenge of trying to get through more than one mission at a time before dying.

Replay Value: The game box states that the missions and objectives change according to your playing abilities, alluding to a non-linear game that would enhance the replay value. In reality, though, it seems as if the game simply changes the pecking order of the 25 missions available. Gromada does offer multiplayer deathmatch through modem or on your home LAN that may make the replay value higher for some, as the multiplayer maps are ones you don't see in the single-player game.


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