Back in the 80's, before the days of computer illiterate "hacking movies" that make me want to puke (i.e. The Net, Hackers), one of the greatest "computer" movies, Wargames, was filmed. It featured realistic hacking such as wardialing and phreaking in their more primitive states, and wasn't really "dumbed down" for the general audience like movies are today. When I first saw the game, I was disappointed. Hoping for gaming themes such as thermonuclear warfare, I ended up with a mediocre real-time strategy game (RTS), with mediocre gameplay. To top it off, it has very little in common with the movie.
A cut-scene taking the form of a commercial from Protovision kicks off the game, which, unfortunately, gives no information pertaining to the story of the game. Players soon find themselves thrown into the real-time strategy fray without a clue as to what is going on in the story. After reading the instruction manual (something that the majority of gamers, including myself, hate to do), I finally got a clue: like the 20-year-old movie, the player ends up playing a video game that starts a real-life war as the government's WOPR computer tries to wipe out humanity. In reality, the game is so loosely tied to the movie that it seems like the Wargames title was just slapped on during the last couple months of development.
Actually playing Wargames is unmistakably similar to a majority of RTS's on the market. The game's single resource, money, is acquired by using the hacker. In addition, the hacker can obtain upgrades to armor and weapons. Once sufficient money is obtained, the constructor (person) can build buildings and structures. These buildings can then order vehicles and tanks or train other human units. The selecting, moving and attacking of units is, again, similar to others on the market. Unfortunately, Wargames just doesn't offer the variety of units and upgrades as, say, Starcraft, and players will soon get bored ordering the same three units over and over again.
While the game may not be quite up to par in terms of variety or gameplay, its engine is definitely more impressive. Running mostly in 3D, the game supports all D3D-compatable cards. All vehicles and buildings are 3D objects and, while they may not be extremely detailed, they do have nice texture maps. On the other hand, all non-vehicle units (grenadiers, hackers, etc.) are obvious 2D sprites and ridiculously stand out against the 3D environment. The engine supports 3 modes of zoom and full 360-degree rotation. Not as nice as Myth: The Fallen Lords... but still impressive.
While sound and music are often overlooked or taken for granted, it is definitely fair to give Wargames credit for the excellent musical tracks included on the CD. All tracks do an good job setting up the military, warlike atmosphere.
In the end, having very little to do with the movie, Wargames can best be described as mediocre. While the game does have a somewhat impressive engine, it seriously lacks both variety and originality.
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