RTS games take on a life of their own when the right components are added. Amazons & Aliens has amusing characters and all three species have unique looks. The game is somewhat reminiscent of 1602 A.D. but in a different setting where all action is on land and you don't have to deal with ships.
Gameplay is familiar to fans of the real-time strategy genre. Create and use a school to train people for operating other buildings while researching new units and ideas constantly. Research requires a percentage of your profits, tracked easily through the main building's graph icon. If you don't keep your citizens happy, some become criminals and profits drop since criminals destroy transporters, which are needed to build new structures. To get rid of them, build a police station and train policemen. Building more dwellings increases profits, allowing for the creation of more structures at the cost of increasing the consumption rate.
Each race begins its campaign differently in single-player mode. For example, Amazons begin with a few houses and a small community. Scenarios last anywhere from 20 minutes to many hours due to the great variety of tasks to accomplish. In one of the missions, you run out of trees and must find the holy tree to start planting new ones. The tree is located a short distance from your village and is surrounded by rocks that your miners must remove, allowing you to collect the wood and complete the mission.
In many missions, you begin with only one building and need to develop an entire society with entertainment and troops. Building a society can take time because of problems with criminals and lack of money or materials. It's much easier to make money in Amazons & Aliens as opposed to 1602 A.D. since trading with far away islands for important natural resources isn't a factor. Some of these issues come into play in later missions but, for the most part, you're able to produce enough food and material without outside help.
The game is easy to operate. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can use it to zoom in and out at any time (no more searching for the magnification button). All units are colorful and large and once you understand the basic concept, you have no problems finding what you need. The point-and-click interface negates use of the keyboard. Each race has its own unique and wacky name for a given structure but whether it's called the House of Orgies or the Warriors Hall, the entertainment building still has the same purpose. The different names and themes for each race are very amusing.
To develop a huge society, choose the option for non-stop play and save your game each time you stop. Under this option, there is no end to the game but it can be interesting since you have more time and resources to develop your society from scratch and mold it into a thriving populous. On the downside, this mode can prove exceedingly difficult because you're quickly attacked by other civilizations before you have time to mount a decent defense.
More often than not, real time strategy games are only about war and destroying the enemy while collecting minerals with a refinery to earn money. That concept is growing tiresome and Amazons & Aliens brings some new ideas to the genre. It's more amusing than 1602 A.D. because of the differences in each race but gameplay is strikingly similar. If games like Fast Food Tycoon and 1602 A.D. appeal to you, expect more of the same from Amazons & Aliens along with some entertaining comic mischief.
Graphics: The characters are very detailed and can be viewed close up. When a hunter kills its prey, you can see the blade swing or the arrow shoot. Architecture is unique to each race.
Sound: The music fits nicely in the background without ever being intrusive. While pleasant, it's also boring. Characters make some sounds and the typical hammering and construction sounds work well.
Enjoyment: The campaign missions are easy and fun and the non-stop game is challenging as well. Gameplay is very addictive.
Replay Value: Each civilization has some unique features and missions so playing the campaign through three times is a must in order to truly complete the game. The non-stop and multiplayer modes also ensure long game life as well.
People who downloaded Alien Nations have also downloaded:
Nations, The: Gold (a.k.a. Alien Nations 2), Age of Mythology, A*M*E*R*I*C*A, American Conquest, ANNO 1602: Creation of a new world, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Against Rome, Age of Empires III
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