NetStorm was the only game I ever had ever dreamed about and it will most likely stay that way.
After nagging my parents for weeks, I received NetStorm at my cottage for my birthday. The next few weeks before I came back to the city was terrible. Thinking about strategies and reading the box and manual over and over just wanting to play it. When I finally got back in city, I couldn't get enough of it. Thinking about it was the least of my troubles now that I wanted to find a way to play it all the time.
I believe NetStorm is one of the only strategy game that was meant to be played pretty well all multiplayer, hence the name. It has a campaign which introduces the game to you but is quite a lot different than multiplayer in terms of strategy. It is useful for teaching the basics and the concept of the game which makes it so different from other strategy games, but it can't compare to multiplayer in enjoyment. For these reasons, Activision, the publisher of the game, set up a large multiplayer server where players can connect and battle each other.
The main problem with the game was security issues; when it was released it was easy to download illegally. Therefore because of this and probably bad marketing, not very many people bought the game. It was said that they actually lost money on the game. Another problem with the security was that it was incredibly easy to change the code of the game to cheat or hack the program. For example there was an easily available "right click hack" which made it so that the person who had the hack could right click on any unit and remove it, make any units invincible, give yourself infinite money, or immobilize your priest. These things caused them to shut down the multiplayer server and stop making the expansion they had started.
This was devastating for the players since multiplayer was such a huge part of the game. A lot of players wanted to get NetStorm back online but didn't have much hope since that usually doesn't happen with games. A great group of dedicated players managed to obtain the code for a server and set up their own. Currently NetstormHQ is running the main server and NetStormWorld is running a backup server in case something happens to the main one.
NetStorm is different than other strategy games in a few aspects. In a standard strategy game you normally construct buildings where you may purchase units and then move them individually. In NetStorm, you can build different workshops on your starting island, you then research the technology from the workshop that you have learned, and then build immobile structures that attack. This wouldn't work too well on the ground, but NetStorm takes place in the skies on islands and so you deploy bridges in strategic places as if positioning an army. You build the structures off of the bridges (which you can lay for free).
The main object of a game in NetStorm is to sacrifice the enemy priest (Although in multiplayer most games end by everyone drawing because it takes longer to sacrifice the priests and they are unneeded if you're already level 43 and don't want to rank). To do this you must immobilize the priest by hitting it with a shooter (bolts from crossbow, disk from sun disk thrower) and then capturing him with a transport (golem, air ship), which are normally used for collecting the currency, storm crystals. Once you have immobilized the priest and then captured him with a transport you must bring him to an altar that only your priest can build (Same as the temple and workshops). Once the enemy priest is on the altar you may begin sacrificing him with your priest.
Note: Your altar is normally situated on your starting island. This is because if you had upgraded to a level two or three altar from the battle before or just haven't used it (i.e. you lost or didn't sacrifice a priest) it will automatically appear on your island at the start of the battle.
If you are playing multiplayer you can choose what technology you want to obtain from sacrificing a priest (In campaign levels you are given certain technology for each level that you must use) and you keep that technology with you to other battles. At level 1 you start off with a random generator (wind, thunder, rain). After you have all the technology (Level 43) and you begin sacrificing another priest, you have the option of advancing a rank. This means that you start over at level one but all of your units at 10% stronger (health, damage). This is considered "cheap" because it would be whoever plays the most would win just because of the added bonuses and not because of how good they are at the game.
Hopefully everyone will give NetStorm a shot at multiplayer and not get frustrated at the start. Bridging is a very important part of the game because you can not bridge over enemy bridges therefore they can be used as a type of barrier. This is the main reason new players lose; they can't do anything since enemy bridges block them or even surround their island. This usually causes most new players to quit from the frustration. It also doesn't really help that the community has etiquette for playing games, unwritten rules that must be followed or else you might get "yelled at". (The main one is that in two versus two the person who is the Battlemaster should be playing purple, his partner red, and the others should be across the ring/map for a longer battle. The main reason purple is the Battlemaster is that it most people find it easier to bridge upwards so the top people need an advantage to equal it out. The advantage from being Battlemaster is that everyone must connect to your computer while you connect to yourself instantly. In some cases because of this you can put your bridge on top of someone else's because of the delay they get. For one versus one the Battlemaster should be red and the other blue). These are the main downsides to the tight community, but the friendship that grows from this kind of community is very enjoyable.
People who downloaded NetStorm: Islands at War have also downloaded:
Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth 2: Soulblighter, Myth 3: The Wolf Age, Nemesis of the Roman Empire, Medieval Lords: Build, Defend, Expand, No Man's Land, Nectaris, Moscow to Berlin: Red Siege
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