Developed by the same team responsible for Microsoft's Urban Assault, Project Nomads blends strategy and action in a fantastical world set within clouds. As a Nomad, a wizard-like being with the power to fly, players must travel to different floating islands to establish multiple bases. The Nomad can then build factories used to produce specific units such as zeppelins, biplanes, and more. The units are needed to win an epic war fought over a limited pool of resources. An array of magical artifacts can be found while traveling through the heavens, each offering different powers to help in battle. Project Nomads is a winner of the European Consumer Trade Show's Best of Show award for 2001.
Project Nomads takes place on a planet called "Aeres" that has been decimated by a war and now is reduced to floating islands (think Waterworld... without water). You play as one of three Nomads who are separated from each other - your goal is to find your friends and help a friendly force (a ghostly apparition that looks like Gandalf but 100% less useful).
Starting with your own island, you collect additional "magical artifacts" that are actually buildings for your island like turrets, hangers, power station, engine... and so on and so forth. This is where most of your Warcraft and Command & Conquer experience will come to play. A good sense of space and positioning is crucial - you don't want all important equipment placed together in case of trouble and you have to space turrets for effective coverage. (Did I mention that you can only control one thing at a time? What sort of desynchronized traffic-light designing idiot came up with that?).
The real winner is the lack of a damage report for the structures that you build, the only sign that things aren't all right is with the amount of smoke pouring out of the buildings; one minute the building is okay, the next minute destroyed - kind of annoying.
Once your island is set up, you can tackle the missions. Well, tackle may be too strong of a word, trudge may be more correct. The missions pretty much come in 3 flavors: on island go somewhere and defend it, get in plane and do stuff or, my least favorite, go on foot and do stuff (includes jumping puzzles and "battle spells" which are about as fun as they sound). The missions would be promising if they weren't so damned scripted. Almost all of the game missions can be solved by one of two methods: turtling (a term where you maximize defense and camp out to defeat the enemy) because any sort of aggressive move will most definitely get you killed or blow up something important and you'll have to redo the mission, or smash attack where you use brute force and frequent save points to finish the mission, not exactly Rommel-style technique.
The ground missions are no better, you run around fighting bug-creatures called "Skrits" who don't have brains or an AI - because they are about as tough as flan but you'll actually spend more time fighting the controls that you can't re-map in this game.
Nomads isn't all bad - the graphics are pretty well implemented, all of the characters and buildings look great and the scenery is top notch. The different characters even have different looking buildings! Cool. The multiplayer mode has some real good ideas - build an island then rumble... unfortunately, the game is only LAN supported, so all of your rampages are going to have to take place with people you know at work or school.
All in all, Project: Nomads is a game that had potential but failed to reach it.
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