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Tycho / on Mon, Feb 3 2003 at 7:35 am

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Some Kind Of Show

All I’m saying is that it is time for a new Sonic game, and I don’t mean new to the GameCube.  Rumors said the new one might not be a remake, and wouldn’t that have been nice!

I read an article on Eurogamer that was not correct I believe, factually speaking.  I’m not doing this to be contentious, it’s just that the thing they got wrong is the thing I think is most interesting about the game. 

We’re seeing more ways to set yourself apart as a commander these days in real-time strategy.  You have always been able to construct strike groups out of the units of your choice, but what I’m talking about in this case is ways to personalize your forces and your abilities.  Impossible Creatures lets you build entire units to a custom spec and field them.  Age of Mythology lets you choose which Gods your society reveres most, revealing or closing off different technologies in mid-game.  Warcraft 3 has the leveling/RPG thing as relates to hero units.  Generals has a couple different ways of differentiating players from its three armies, the most basic way being genuinely interesting modifications to units.  There is a massive Chinese tank, for example, that is already dangerous because it is bristling with huge guns of varying types.  There is (as I understand it) a “Propaganda” upgrade for the vehicle that places loudspeakers on the back, blaring hateful rhetoric that emboldens nearby soldiers.  My experience with the game pointed out several such additions to units which really gave me the sense of altering a total “battlefield ecology,” which is something I discussed before during my Red Alert 2 period.  Generals is by the much same team as I understand it, not Westwood proper (RIP), so that would make sense.  This isn’t the part the Eurogamer article got wrong, that’s coming up in the next paragraph.     

I was wowed by the game at E3, as any person in command of their faculties must necessarily have been.  It was then that I learned that each of the three sides had a general you could choose, and these “Generals” could determine your aptitudes and a portion of your tech tree.  I thought that was mighty fine, but apparently they themselves did not, because the most recent version of the game I have played does not have a feature like that.  The way it works now can best be described by comparing it to Warcraft 3.  In Warcraft 3, you create an altar, and then you create a hero, and then your hero goes out and kills stuff and levels up.  That Hero can die and then will need to be resurrected, but he will retain his prior experience.  Also, his brade may seek vengeance.  In Generals, there are really two separate tiers where experience in accrued.  The first is individual unit experience - they acquire expertise in the course of normal skirmishes.  I’ve even seen experienced troops exit destroyed vehicles with their veteran status intact.  Though you personally have no representation on the field, the player also accrues experience through combat, conceptualized as “Stars,” which can be used to activate advanced units and abilities.  I think this system has more opportunities for dynamic combat flow.  The article I mentioned referred to their old way of doing things, and I just wanted to set it straight.  I bear Europe no ill will.  The only thing I did not like about Generals was the fact that it ran like shit.  And I mean shit.  Yes, it was the beta, but I always say “It’s the Beta” to qualify why I say something runs like shit.  I bear no hope whatsoever for performance improvements in the retail product.   

My birthday is this Thursday, February sixth, and I do ask that you set aside some time that day to reflect not only on all the cool stuff I do, but also the cool way in which I do the stuff I was just talking about.

(CW)TB out.

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