Purely online gaming has been heavily promoted in the past few years as the next Great Leap Forward for serious gamers wanting to expand their horizons and their skills, but only a relatively small fraction of the gaming community that has taken up the challenge.
Part of the reason for that is the comparatively low number of homes (in the UK at least) that have broadband and so there’s a worry about frame rates and random disconnection. Another factor is the cost that several companies levy for you to take part, allied to the suspicion that it’s only the dedicated hardcore who play online and so newcomers will either be unwelcome or will be too daunted to get engaged.
It’s therefore all the braver of developers S2Games to have devised an online game that attempts to marry up the staple genre of the first-person shooter with the more considered and analytical real-time strategy.
Savage (subtitled The Battle For Newerth) has a back story about a future age where beasts have evolved to be as intelligent as humans and to loathe them for the centuries of mistreatment. It’s a period when basic resources are now fiercely fought over and the hatred between the two species has boiled over into open warfare.
You choose which race to fight for over a range of extensive, snowy, steamy and jungle-like landscapes. Yet instead of being a simple shoot-’em-up where you can alternate between first and third person view, you can also be involved in resource gathering (gold and red stone), construction and research.
And if you fancy yourself as the boss, then you can lay aside combat entirely and be a commander, having complete oversight of the strategy for your side, giving orders for where to build, how to allocate resources, when to upgrade and when to move on your opponent’s stronghold.
There are different weapons and skills for each race – the humans’ firepower is matched by the ability to block while the beasts rely on more magical weaponry and can leap large distances at speed. Humans have four classes and two heavy duty weapons and their rivals have six classes, including a giant that wields a tree as a club!
All of this is good news for novices to online gaming, as both shooting and strategy are essential to victory and there’s plenty of scope for fans of both genres to feel involved and included in the team. There’s also no fee to join in so you can have little excuse not to sign up.
Visually it all looks very lush with especially good detail on the beasts, structures and weaponry. The only serious omission is the absence of any kind of offline tutorial to give you the chance to bone up on the basics before you play. You do, though, receive a very handsome official strategy guide which provides plenty of background info on most aspects of the game.
Company: Digital Jesters