Reply To: Then vs Now

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I successfully completed both of the campaigns in the first half of the month. I’ll talk a little about how I found them:

– The earlier missions are quick and easy (you can do the first 6 missions in a single night) and they serve as a gentle introduction to the gameplay.

We have to realise that RTS is a well established genre nowadays, but in 1996 that was not the case. These early levels do feel *too* easy now, but back then they were important for teaching the basic mechanics of RTS, and I do still have fond memories of playing them in the early 2000s (when I got the game). They offer a nice variety of objectives:

For example, learning how to harvest resources and construct buildings in the first level. Also dealing with gold/wood/food as resources. In the second level, we learn how to control unit groups and some basic combat. The third level introduces the tech tree, with naval units and oil as a resource. The fourth level builds upon this, by having us assault another island with both ships and transports.

This all sets the scene for later levels, as they all involve some combination of (1) building a base and managing resources, (2) Guiding a group of units through a hostile environment. (3a) assaulting an enemy on another island. (3b) assaulting an enemy on the same island. What changes are new units being made available in the tech tree, and of course the map layouts!

– The middle levels (7-10) take less than an hour each on average, and I was working through two each evening. There are some very memorable gems here, like the building a castle on the island mission, and the river run with cannons along it. 😀 Perhaps some of the most fun levels in the game are these middle levels. Not too slow, and just challenging enough.

– The end levels (11-14) are all slow paced, taking over an hour each (one per evening). I found most of these quite boring to be honets, and I was actually dreading starting some of them because I knew what I was in for. The human-L14-finale is perhaps the most interesting of the batch, and I actually chose to play through it again towards the end of august.

In the second half of the month I played several melee games vs computer AI, and made a couple of my own melee maps using the Map Editor, and played on that vs the computer AI as well.

We were going to have an online multiplayer session at some point, but it never happened.

I took a look at the expansion pack ‘beyond the dark portal’. The main thing to note are story-driving hero units having a far greater presence. I did play through these campaigns a couple of times back in the day, but I didn’t complete much this month. There are a few nice levels here, but some poor/rushed/unoriginal levels do sour the campaign for me. In short, it offers nothing particularly different gameplay-wise from the original, but expansions all tend to be like that, don’t they? 🙂