Under Siege may be the best $20 PSN investment

While Under Siege is Seed Studios’ first outing on the PlayStation 3, the game is looking magnificently bright. It’s clear that gamers will want to check out this high-quality yet affordable RTS adventure game, coming exclusively to the PlayStation Network.

First off, the game looks beautiful. For a $19.99 PSN title, the art style is well polished, vibrant, and varied. Each race has a set of different class type of units with unique styles of play, appearances, and abilities. The environment sees great attention to detail with terrain types ranging from swampy wetlands to snowy mountain tops. Players will be able to mass their armies for battle in the deserts or in the thick forests near Elven cities.

One of the ways the game is able to achieve such beauty is through the support of a customized version of Sony’s PhyreEngine. Titles utilizing the PhyreEngine that may sound familiar include Demon’s Souls, Flower, and thatgamecompany’s upcoming 2011 title Journey. By using the engine, Seed Studios was able to develop a fantasy real-time strategy game that was built specifically for the PS3.

One of the foundation concepts of the game is to attract console gamers. While Under Siege provides the option to use PlayStation Move, it seems like a tacked-on extra, as the game was developed specifically for the Dual Shock 3. Veteran gamers can customize D-pad buttons for unit hot-keys/assignments, while new users will still find the controls and gameplay mechanics approachable.

Also, among the many other features, the game supports a full 21-mission single-player campaign, four player co-op online, two player co-op local splitscreen, voice and video chat, 720p and 1080p resolutions, XMB screenshot and custom music support, video recording, and a fully fledged map editor.

"The guys at Media Molecule knew what they were doing, so we decided to do the same," wrote Filipe Pina, producer on Under Siege. "The Editor that ships with Under Siege allows everyone to create their maps and share them with the world. It’s the same tool that we used to build all of our maps!"

The map editor not only allows you to choose map sizes, terrain types, placement and level of units, but creators are given the ability to add triggers to chain or cause events. Watch the video below to see more on the map editor.

"The maps can be single-player or multiplayer; a short campaign or a complex co-op survival mode," Pina described.

Players will find Deathmatch, Capture Point, Capture Treasure, and Survival modes available at launch with more promised after release. However, between what comes with launch and what players design using the custom map tools, there should be plenty of replayablity.

Now keep in mind, Under Siege isn’t the resource/base building type of real-time strategy game. Players are given preparation time before each level, using acquired gold to purchase new units, upgrade veteran units, or access new abilities. Players earn gold by traversing the lands, attaining treasure chests and battling enemies. The goal is to strategically move your units — whether they are a mix of archers and foot soldiers, or giant siege units — about the battle field, killing enemy units, while suffering the least possible deaths.

"Your army also gains experience ranking up as they fight, so it’s important to keep them alive because when they die… well, we like to think that they were somebody’s son," said Pina.

For those interested in story, Seed Studios is also running an e-comic book to coincide with the development and release of the game. Each week, the developers reveal a new chapter, introducing more back story to the heroes, characters, and world before Under Siege. The differences in races types will provide for much lore and story-telling, whether told from the perspective of Seed Studios in the single-player campaign or custom written in a user map.

Currently, the game is in final stages of testing, localization and fine tuning, with a release date expected to be announced within the next few weeks.

"Regarding the game (we know you’re anxious about it…) until the end of the week we’ll update you about everything," Seed Studios said yesterday on their official Under Siege Facebook page.

In regards to downloadable content, "extra DLC will depend on the demands made by all of you," said Pina. The game will ship with "around 20 units" along with foliage, building, and terrain brush sets. If the game is a success, it would be great to see Seed Studios continue support by releasing new trigger systems, terrain types, units, and gameplay modes.

So if Fat Princess or Mushroom Wars just isn’t doing it for you anymore, keep an eye on Under Siege and its developments as we reach launch date. Under Siege could be a PlayStation Network hit, it just needs a lively community willing to generate worlds within their world.