The Bloodfox and the Hammerhawk are two clans on a dying world. One wishes to use the remaining limited resources to find a new planet, the other feels that they should stay where they are and die with their world. You can choose which clan to play, each one having its own technology trees, and try to overcome the other. One of the really unique features in this real-time strategy game is the ability to design all of your units.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The single-player game is fun, but not immersive. It feels much more like just a training mission than anything else. The ability to actually design each of your units and pick their weapons configurations, armor, and transportation mode, does add a lot of strategy to this game. However the game lacked the capacity to discern who you were and keep a "profile" for you. Without this, multiple people using the same copy on the same machine share the same unit library, so you almost have to design your units by committee to keep from having too much confusion. It also meant that if you lost a mission, and you hadn't saved it while you were playing that mission, you went back to the first mission and started over. I ended up playing the first three missions for one of the clans several times before I remembered to always save just before I won, so that if I flubbed it on the next mission, I wouldn't have to start all over again.
The multiplayer game was, unfortunately, unusable. There were so many bugs here that the one time several of my friends and I attempted it, we played for about an hour, got frustrated, and promptly put it away. Most often we ran into two main problems. The first was where one of us could no longer control our units, we could not select them at all -- the units would just stop after they completed their last command and we could not give them new ones. The second was getting into a state where our construction units would not build anything. The build unit would claim to be building, but no units would ever be completed. The countdown would complete, then start over.
The graphics really disappointed me. The first thing I noticed was that the line of sight around each unit was always a perfect square. It would have been nice if the attempt had been made to get a line of sight that was more natural, similar to some of the other RTS games out there like Starcraft or Age of Empires.
The audio was okay, but nothing special. The unit movement sounds were generic, the battle effects sounded canned. Nothing that grabbed me.
This game is not one I would really recommend at this point, but I'm hoping for a sequel that will knock my socks off, as the concept of allowing the player to create his or her own unit configuration is extremely appealing to me.
The planet Calibria is running low on it's most valuable natural resource, a crystal formation called coolar. The planet's leaders disagree on how best to handle the situation. The Hammerhawk clan believes that the remaining coolar be used to build starships, to transport the Calibrians off-planet and seek a new home. The Bloodfox clan is much more conservative, and believes that they should stay where they are and nurse the remaining supply. War is inevitable. Both sides fight for their beliefs using remote-controlled war forces commanded from virtual-reality control centers. Of course, the longer the war drags on, the more quickly the coolar supply gets drained.
Extreme Tactics is a real-time strategy game, much like the one every other company has made or is making. While it does have it's own special charm, at it's core it remains another "me-too" game.
Graphically, the game hits in some places and misses in others. The terrain graphics are uninspired and downright muddy-looking in places. Units look good, but since they are based on similar design features, it can be a nightmare distinguishing between some of them. Special effects, like explosions and some of the weapon effects look very good.
Gameplay is exactly what you have come to expect from the "real time strategy game of the month". Mine resources, build units, and go to war. You are issued orders from your clan leader; mission types include "secure area", "seek and destroy", and the other usual ones. The interface is laid out fairly well, although the zoom level never really feels comfortable. Zoomed in, not enough of the map shows. Zoom out one more level, and suddenly the units are too tiny and detail drops out too much. One thing I found entirely irritating about the interface occurs while selecting a unit to build. The list of available unit types has no visible scroll bar, so you can never tell how many or even if there are more units on the list. In order to see more of the list, you need to select one and use the arrow keys to move through the list. It's a small point, but an irritating one. And now for the most annoying, maddening, and irritating thing I have ever seen in a game - you cannot skip the opening movie. You'll have to watch it over and over and over again each time you start the game.
Now for the good news, Extreme Tactics does have some really excellent features. Unit design is created almost entirely by you. As you progress through the game, you gain access to new and advanced technology, as is to be expected. But in this game, you are not just given new unit types, you are given new unit components. At any time, you can go into the design area and create a totally new unit by combining chassis, transport type, weapons, shields, and other equipment. You can make specially designed units that do anything you need. Small units move faster and are produced quickly, while larger ones are slower but may be more heavily armed. The design area itself is easy to use, featuring a drag and drop interface that allows you to quickly and easily create and save new designs. Outside of a campaign, you can create designs using any technology you like, but using the utility while in a game only allows you access to the technology level that you have reached. Multiplayer games allow you to set the technology level manually.
Another excellent feature of the game is the freedom you have in selecting your unit's behavior on the battlefield. They may be made to fire on the enemy on sight, avoid known enemy locations altogether, or fire on them while passing by. Units may also be ordered to return for repairs when they hit a certain damage level, to conserve your forces. While in transit, however, units can exhibit some irritating behavior. Scrap in their path can take them out of the loop until it can be removed. They won't necessarily go around obstacles, even when an alternate path is available. To top it off, there is no way to set waypoints for them to use.
Extreme Tactics is a game that had some potential, but not enough to keep it from being buried in an avalanche of other real time strategy games. It takes a lot of work to make a game in this genre stand out, and Extreme Tactics does not have the storyline or mission structure to make it stand out. Download StarCraft or Total Annihilation instead.
Bottom Line: Just another real time strategy game. Graphics are uninspired and bland. There is no way to skip the opening movie. The unit design feature is excellent, but similar components make it difficult to distinguish between different design types on the battlefield. Selectable unit behavior is very nice, but you cannot set waypoints and units tend to get stuck in place on certain areas of the maps.
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