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Stormrise Eyes-on

23 July 2008

There aren’t many Real Time Strategy games currently available for the PlayStation 3, but the future started looking a littler brighter as I ventured through my eyes-on opportunity with Stormrise. Stormrise is a RTS-based game that was built from the ground up for consoles. The gameplay demo on display translated that fact perfectly. I’m sure a lot of you would agree that it is hard to transfer the ease of keyboard and mouse control to the intricacies and lack of options of a console controller. With fewer buttons and analog sticks in place of a mouse, it has always been quite the chore to enjoy an RTS game on any home console.

The guys at SEGA understand this and have implemented a lot of innovative or merely nifty ideas into Stormrise in order to make it work. One of the neatest examples available is the ability to switch between squadrons with just the flick of your analog stick. You flick it to the left, right, up or down and the screen will automatically jump to the next available squad in that direction. The other option you're given is holding the analog stick in any direction which will prompt a radar displaying troops from your relative position to pop-up. From this point, you’ll be able to scan through which unit you’d like to control and the game will fly you over to that area.

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The camera angles within the game are fairly well done. You’ll be able to take a vertical approach like standard RTS games, or you can take it one step further and actually see what they see on the battlefield. I think this is one of the nicer additions that really helps you experience Stormrise for what it is; it's certainly a more immersive experience from this view.

Battlefields are almost multiple-leveled, therefore you can have 'Spectre Units' (scouts) at the top of buildings that will offer you a different vantage point for viewing the overall battle. This comes in handy and allows you to make more accurate and knowledgeable decisions. Your Spectre Units aren’t untouchable though, as each class of unit has its strength and weaknesses. These Spectre Units are susceptible to airborne attacks, so you shouldn’t just leave them sitting up there on their own.

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Sprectre Units can also give orders to units visible across the battlefield which allows you to control the frontline from different points of the map. As troops move into place, they’ll engage enemies on their own volition. You’ll move troops with a 3D cursor where yellow zones implement standard areas and blue zones demonstrate “coverage zones.” You’ll also be able to flank around enemies hiding behind coverage while your frontline keeps them busy.

Of course, without any real hands-on time with the title, it’s hard to predict how well the control mapping will be done. If the game suffers from an awkward control scheme, it may lose some of its apparent charm. The game also needs to be easily accessible to new users picking up Stormrise as well, because the genre's fanbase seems to be growing at an alarming rate as some people tire of first person shooters.

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For you multiplayer fans out there, you’ll be able to play splitscreen, online co-op, and simple standard online play. One of the best online features is the ability to “jump in and play” at any point within an online battle. This is very similar to titles like LEGO Batman where you can just jump in and out as you please. I have a feeling these online elements will definitely help nudge this title into the limelight that much more.

Even though Stormrise doesn’t release for another year, the game is looking incredible for being this far from retail shelves. With a decent amount of RTS titles coming out between now and then, it will be up against some healthy competition (EndWar being the most notable), but I think it will be able to pull its own weight on the way to becoming a fan favorite for people who enjoy the genre.


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