Stormrise PlayStation 3
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Stormrise Product Details
Released on 27/03/2009
Stormrise is a post apocalyptic real-time strategy game from Creative Assembly, the makers of Medieval II: Total War. Two warring factions arise from the rubble: the Echelon, a technologically advanced race that endured the planet's fallout by way of self-induced hibernation, and the Sai, a tribal society that adapted to the new apocalyptic environment and evolved over time. Players can command units in the air, across rooftops, on the earth’s surface and even underground; this unique idea of “verticality” introduces multiple layers of gameplay that must be mastered for strategic advantage. The experience is heightened by a simple yet effective control system tailored specifically for consoles, which allows easy unit selection, rapid navigation and precise deployment.
The RTS goes vertical
The Creative Assembly has plenty of experience when it comes to the real-time strategy genre, with its exceptional Total War series consistently enthralling PC owners. Stormrise represents the studio's first serious attempt to craft a similarly strategic experience for console owners, but it takes a totally different approach to Halo Wars.
Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth in the distance future, Stormrise revolves around two warring factions: the technically advanced Echelon and the tribal, Sai. The game's decidedly non-traditional viewpoint puts you front and centre of the battleground - rather than controlling some floating omniscient commander, you're in the thick of the action, guiding your units in the third-person.
Whipped into shape
Such a bold move needs a control system to fit, and the developer has an equally brave new idea to introduce here. The Whip Select allows players to flick between units using the right analogue stick - hold the stick in the direction of another unit (represented by an icon if they're offscreen) and control will instantly switch between the two.
It's a clever idea, dragging the genre away from its tabletop feel and into the modern realm of totally immersive environments.
The other new concept is one of 'verticality'. Rather than yomping across featureless, flat terrain, your units have to manoeuvre their way around buildings and other structures. Enemies cannot be spotted until your men are in a position to see them - so placing units on roofs allows you a better viewpoint, often alerting other troops to impending enemy ambushes. It's a clever idea, dragging the genre away from its tabletop feel and into the modern realm of totally immersive environments.
Three a crowd?
With so many new ideas, it's clear that Stormrise is nothing if not ambitious. But not every area of the game keeps up. Art design is a little uninspiring, with a very uniform representation of urban desolation. Also, the simple act of moving your units can become a chore at times because of some baffling design decisions - you can only group your units into threes, which forces you to inch larger armies forward at a funereal pace, while it's an instant 'mission failed' if you allow any of your mech units to fall.
There's tactical fun to be had, especially if you haven't had your expectations set by years of RTS gaming on a PC
And then the Whip Select, such a good idea in theory, can sometimes make things difficult too. When you've only a few units to look after, switching between them is simple enough. Spawn more troops, however, and you end up looking at a mass of icons clustered together, and finding the right one becomes something of a trial. When you do get the hang of things, there's a decent range of units to manage with infantry, snipers and heavily armoured tanks going head-to-head with more exotic fare, like the Sai's acid-spitting crab monsters, known as Matriarchs.
Despite some rather pressing issues, perseverance does reap rewards in Stormrise, and there's tactical fun to be had, especially if you haven't had your expectations set by years of RTS gaming on a PC. Also, players able to work around the control foibles will find some joy in the game's multiplayer modes, which allow you to play as the mutant Sai race - offering a host of new units to master.
Ultimately, Stormrise is a valiant effort to revolutionise the console RTS, and deserves applause for trying to do something different. The Whip Select is surely bound for better things, and while a sequel is unlikely, there's the sneaking sense that some of Stormrise's better ideas will re-emerge in the future.
- Some genuinely groundbreaking concepts
- Good multiplayer options
- Whip Select mechanic is a tremendous idea...
- Some elements just doesn't work in practice
- Dull characters and environments
- A few camera issues in tight spaces
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