I was very tempted, at the beginning of this article, to describe Galactic Dream: Rage of War as a “real time space strategy that looks and feels like Red Alert”, proudly sign the work and consider it done. Aside from the raised eyebrow of my editor-in-chief, I would have felt proud and fulfilled by such a detailed and complete journalistic masterpiece. Unfortunately for the indie producers of Evolution Vault, the above description also happens to be exact.
There is little room for maneuvering in the real time strategies genre as it is, and Rage of War loses the battle precisely because it plays by the rules of others. It brings nothing new or innovating in terms of gameplay, while the graphics could not impress us since we’re talking about independent producers, with limited resources at their disposal.
The history of the war between the two races in the game, Humans and Argo, can be discovered during the single-player campaign, but an option to skip the tutorial would have been nice. That’s because it’s quite annoying to be forced to listen to the explanation of the rather simplistic control system, not to mention that Rage of War is a game with a learning curve of about 5 minutes. Also, the campaign consists only of almost identical battles (maybe within a different size map) and so the few satisfactions can only be found in its skirmish mode.
The simplistic concept of Red Alert has been toned down even further: gather resources, build structures, spawn units and go level your opponent. Resources are gathered from nearby asteroids, which are abundantly spread thought the map. There are no obstacles or other types of confinement for the asteroids, which seem to be inexhaustible, which also means that once the mining activity has been set up, you shouldn’t worry about the cash flow.
There are 3 types of shipyards available – for small, large and huge ships, and a number of technology buildings that open new ship construction option. Personally, I didn’t see the reasoning for assigning a new technology to another building, as you end up with all these fancy-named structures and may get confused by their number. Luckily, they can be moved to a free corner where they can’t annoy you.
All ships have values such as attack power, hit-points, shields and energy, but it is unclear what the last two are used for. Shields hardly decrease during fights and the energy is not used for anything, as the ships don’t have any special abilities (and the game manual makes no mention of its use). Also, as new technologies become available, the gap between different tier ships becomes larger and larger. If a tier 1 ship has an attack power of 160, a tier 2 has around 600, and for tier 3 we’re talking thousands. It’s easy to realize which ship is worthy and which is cannon fodder. Not to mention that the combat dynamics dictate that smaller scouts will be crushed before they even had the chance to fire one salvo.
There is one special ship for each side which has a special attack type and different vulnerabilities than the rest, but to find out why, and the counter-measures to these ships you need to have the patience to go over the tutorial (or the manual), as the on-screen descriptions are of little help. This is the only drop of strategy that you will find, otherwise the pattern “build 1000 of the meanest ship available and send them to the slaughter” will work every time. There is a ship experience system in place, but it’s difficult to track the upgraded ship due to the large number of units on screen at any time. There is also the option of playing a so-called Tactical game, where in the first 3 minutes you magically gather enough resources to build your fleet 5 times over, which further deepens the idea that “strategy” should be removed when describing this game.
The simplicity of the game dynamics are, ultimately, its fun factor. Resources are easily gathered and all you need to do is set up the economic part in the first 2 minutes of the game and then concentrate on the fireworks. There is no limit to the number of units, nor to the system resources (Rage doesn’t need much to get going) so those looking for space mayhem with little strategy to worry about will be pleased.
Graphic-wise, it’s a mixed bag. Ship models look pretty neat, there has been a fair amount of work invested in them, and it shows, particularly at higher zoom levels. The weapon effects are varied enough, arcade-style, the explosions betray the budget, but overall you cannot be picky with such a title. The overall game board, however, gave me headaches. It’s a 2D environment, with stars, asteroids and planets that are trying to give the impression of 3D, but instead just confuse the player. The map is also populated with nothing else besides asteroids and player-controlled ships, and that delivers the final blow to any strategic attempts Rage might have thought of.
There is little AI to talk about, as there is no path-finding or economy to speak of, and at higher levels of difficulty the computer can be annoyingly powerful simply because it doesn’t use a mouse to issue orders to its troops. The interface is fair enough, also the icons are a bit small and a small lag appears in case of overcrowding.
The sound consists of a musical theme that has little to do with the on-screen action, but relaxing enough to listen while dusting. Voices however, are quite annoying and humorless (even though the producers claim the humor to be a selling point) with the same 5 or 6 lines repeated by a bored and uninterested female voice.
With its lack of strategy, non-existent AI, disappointing single-player and annoying voices, Rage of War should not be a commercial title. As an attempt of college graduates I would have looked at it rather amused, more indulgent, I would have even recommended it to youngsters looking to prepare for more serious strategies. As it is right now, it’s just another strategy game that can’t and doesn’t even try to deliver.