ARMADA 2526 looks set to take the space drama back where it belongs. To the top!
The latest title from Iceberg Interactive and developers Nitronium, comes in a variety of options for the PC gamer. First up you have the standard setting of ‘great,’ with the more advanced setting of ‘awesome’ being available for the more experienced 4x strategist gamer.
This is not to say that only experienced gamers will get the best results from Armada 2526, far from it. What we mean is that in the same way that Henry Ford offered his customers the choice of paintwork for his legendary Model-T car’ in any colour they liked, “just as long as that colour was black.” That in that same manner, gamers may, in fact, play the fantastic new space epic from Iceberg Interactive in any mode, just as long as that mode inludes ‘awesome!’
Without running through an A-Z list of competitors and similar titles in this hugely popular genre, as we just don’t see the point of it? We are here to offer you our review of Armada 2526, not any other title. We will tell you that you will see a multitude of very similar titles with similar looking packshots on their sleeves. This is where the similiarity ends. Armada 2526 offers up a much fuller experience for the player. This is obvious immediately by the sheer number of spacecraft on offer, the availability of a wide variety of Alien races that make up the populus of the ficticious realm and also the quite remarkable user interface that makes Armada 2526 an enjoyable experience, even for the most green of newcomers to the strategy 4x genre of gaming titles.
The graphics are dependable and the render solid. With detailing and backdrops being picturesqure and panoramic as the player is taken on their journey for Sci-Fi galactic domination over their rivals, in this far from run of the mill space drama. Whilst there may indeed be titles that look prettier, they do not play as well as Armada 2526. And in the rare instance that you find a title in the genre, that some may feel benefits from a better standard of gameplay, then let me tell you that they will have suffered graphically and audibly for it. What you have in Iceberg Interactive’s bold and beautiful space epic is a cracking blend of the two, great graphic’s and visual effects coupled with gameplay that keeps the player on the edge of their seat as they battle for control over the Galaxy as war rages all around them.
This brings us nicely to the gameplay, which, we have to say we enjoyed immensely even though we have to admit to being little more than Frag Head’s at heart if the truth be told? Nevertheless it is a testament to the standard of play on offer that it held our imaginations and our attention as we battled with The Linkin, The Qa Qa and a good number of other races, which brought the total number of species on offer to twelve. Although there is no customization option with regard to the races, we did not feel that this limited our enjoyment in any way, as to tell you the truth a dozen races on offer to begin with is sufficient in our book. The fact that each race brings it own traits and charateristics to the game is more than enough to justify the developers concentration on other facets. The way that the game starts out places the gamer firmly on familiar ground, as you first set out on your colonization of neighbouring planets and worlds from your ‘Ark Ship.’ Its a point worth remembering, that to save you unnecessary trips back and forth ferrying transports of your citizens between worlds that you have colonized to ones that you are looking to make more numerous, that this is a basic function that can be turned on automatically through the user interface, thus making it a ‘repeat action’ for the computer to continue doing so. By asking the interface to take care of basic actions such as this you continue to increase planetary populations and add to your empire’s funds by collecting the taxes from the citizens. But at the same time this setting the action to ‘repeat’ allows the player to concentrate on the more pressing and engaging matters at hand.
In a nice touch, that we felt could have been taught to some of the people in todays banking world, we found that just lavishing cash that we had made from taxes to build new research labs or security buildings and the like, only served to plunge us drastically into the ‘Red.’ However, unlike a lot of people who are now finding themselves deeply in debt in todays modern economic climate, we had the luxury of learning from our experience as we pressed the reset button and began our second outing into the Armada Universe, therefore extinguishing the memory of languishing in dire economic straits during our first attempt at conquering the galaxy. No such ‘reset’ button for those in the real world though, alas.
But with a spring in our step, and warnings from the Bank of Qa Qa resounding firmly in our ears from our first aborted outing as an Intergalactic dictator, we ventured forward yet again. Strong in the knowledge that this time we would be more frugal with our space currency and our galactic mortgages. So heed or warnings here people, as we tell you that, yes we understand that Aliens with laser cannon and photon torpedoes can be hazardous to your health, but an even greater threat, as we all know, is the TaxMan. So keep an eye on your finances.
The Armada 2526 storyline goes a little something like this; The future is uncertain and history not yet written, you have in your hands the destiny and control over the survival or extinction of twelve very distinctly different alien race, and as such the gamer is put to task almost immediately in the creation of their Universe. Some may moan that this is detremental to the titles plot, and that it is a hindrance to the story that there is no real intro for the gamer to get their bearings from. In our opinion, we kind of liked it, it gave the title a sense of greater realism and urgency as would be afforded in the ‘real world’, so to speak. As in life, you have no guide to hold you hand and offer you pearls of wisdom that give you insight into a situation, and thus gaining some sort of advantage over your rivals. The same can now be said of Armada 2526. You wanted to dominate the Galaxy? You wanted to demonstrate your power and might over your neighbouring species? Well, thats exactly what the developers have allowed you to do. Just do not expect them to ‘help’ you on your way? You are supposed to be some great Military Leader? Then ‘Lead’ your men into battle, and may victory come, not from the fact that you had a history lesson, but from your decisions and your tactics.
We would suggest that novices to the Strategy 4x Genre set out on their expedition only after first taking the time to educate themselves on the task before them with the games Tutorial mode. As it may be a little daunting to the first time player when they have to arrange everything in the gaming arena from planetary positions to the locations of not just spacecraft and military engagements, but to stars, research facilities, populations of colonists and the like. But thats not to say that the ‘Newbie’ should be detered from the game. Not at all, if anything, for the gamer who is considering taking a leap of faith and entering into the Strategy 4x sector for their debut, then we can readily advise them that Armada 2526 is the title to make such a leap with. Believe us, there is nothing to fear. In a way, the fact that there is no multiplayer atached to Armada 2526 actually makes it the perfect title for newcomers! At least the new players can take things at their own pace whilst learning the subleties and basic moves and tactic’s that are required if they are ever to emerge victorious in a strategy 4x title, without having the more experienced and battle hardened veteran wipe the floor with them in an online match, and therefore pretty much knock the fight of them and send them scurrying back to what ever genre they came from? In Armada 2526 the novice is safe in the knowledge that the game is being played at their pace, and that any mistakes ar tactical errors made will only serve as a lesson learned for future playthroughs.
To achieve victory in Armada 2526 comes in two forms. The first, and more obvious of the two, is if you succeed in the complete and utter destruction of all your enemies. The second is if you have a higher points total at the end of the alloted game time. The gameplay duration is based on the the amount of turns that you allowed at the set up of the game. You can, should you choose to do so, continue your campaign long after the permitted turn quota has been passed. The decision to proceed has no bearing on the result. Points to be aware of are the fact that, as we stated at the beginning of the review, each race has its own characteristics that it brings to the melting pot, such as it is, they also have their own very different conditions for victory, and this makes for a hugely diverse experience for the gamer with every playthrough of the title. For example playing as the Human’s, you get an ‘unrest penalty’ and a ‘hyperspace research fields penalty’ alongside a ‘psychic penalty’, however you will get a general research bonus. You then earn your victory if your population is happy enough with the state of things, and if you have been out there accomplishing great victories and fighting the good fight against the alien hordes in the name of Humanity during your game.
All in all the Artificial Intelligence right throughout the game plays very well, and gives even the most ardent of Strategy gamers a good run for their money. We were particularly fond of the highly responsive user iterface that sees more than just the mundane tasks being set to automatic, so that you can get down to the heart of the title, and that is planing your conquests. There were no screaming horrors that leapt out at us, and if you consider over supplying one particular craft or other a real problem to your strategic plottings, then the answer is quite simple, ‘do it yourself.’
To be perfectly honest with you all, and here at GamesMediaPro thats one thing that you can always be very sure of, Armada 2526 played very well throughout all areas of the game. Everything from sights and sounds right down to the raw basics of setting the interface to auto to transport your ruddy faced colonists over to their new home on a recently acquisitioned planet has been done in such a way that the one compliments the other and makes for a truly enjoyable gaming experience.
So it with these thoughts running through our collective gaming minds that we come to the final evaluation on the Iceberg Interactive space extravaganza that is, Armada 2526.
Nitronium Games and Iceberg Interactive’s latest space epic is just that, epic. A tightly packed, solid title that has shining quality running from the opening credits right through to the games closing scenes. The fact that it is one of the more robust Strategy 4X games out there on the market, means that gamers will get to enjoy the very best of the RTS genre without having to search through an absolute library of drab mediocrity to get to play something that will entertain. Just follow our advice and let your wandering gaze settle on the case for Armada 2526, make your purchase and be very happy and secure in the knowledge that you have saved yourself a lot of wasted time and effort looking for a quality 4x title. As Armada 2526 has more than enough to keep you entertained for many an hour and then some.
Graphics: The solid nature of the graphical content goes hand in hand with the superb sound quality and special effects 7
Gameplay: No doubt about it, Armada 2526 has got the lot! Do not let the fact that there is no multiplayer deter you from purchasing this title, as the Artificial Intelligence is so good in Armaad 2526 that you won’t notice that your opponent is your PC as it battles you tooth and nail for every inch of territory 7
RePlay Value: Considering the fact that the game is immense in a single playthrough and then couple that with there being an additional 11 races for you to come back and playthrough again with, and we can safely say that Armada 2526 has more than enough Replay Value to go round than most titles out there. 7
Presentation: Its an Iceberg Interactive title developed with the Nitronium studios? What more is there to say? If you are a PC gamer then you already know the quality that runs from A-Z throughout the entire Iceberg Interactive back catalogue, and Armada 2526 is no exception! This is just one more cracking title to add to the ever growing list in Iceberg’s impressive library. 8