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Author Topic: Star Wars - Empire at War  (Read 2530 times)
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« on: January 19, 2006, 12:40:05 AM »

There is a thread regarding this game over at OO - but I know some of you don't really lurk there, so if you have tried it, let us know what you think.

I have played through the Tutorial Missions that come with the demo (5 in total I think) ... and for the most part like what I've seen.

Quick impressions:  The (main) game seems to be two games in one, really.  There is the strategic portion where you try to take over planets and such, and there is the rts "tactical" portion that involves both space and land battles.  What you do in the strategic portion of the game directly correlates to the rts portion.  It is actually a cool idea that works differently (but maybe better) than I had anticipated.  

The graphics look pretty good to me.  Sound effects are excellent, and the tutorial itself seems very polished.  Ground battles are typical rts (as far as I can tell from the tutorial) with some neat twists.  The idea of reinforcements is cool based on controlling strategic points on the map.  Also, there seems to be a limited number of "slots" for buildings when you take over a planet, so you have to actually make some strategic choices when deciding what types of buildings to make (defensive structures, barracks, vehicle stations, etc.).  The interface is a bit bigger than I like, but honestly, it isn't all that bad.  The space battles are cooler than the land battles though, or at least seem to be.  Again, it's typical rts with some twists (Homeworld-like targetting of hardpoints on bigger ships), but it runs nice and smooth.  Certain ships carry squadrons of fighters (x-wings, tie-fighters, etc.) which is pretty cool.    

At first glance, the strategic portion of the game reminds me of Rise of Nations, except in space, and with planets instead of parts of the world.   Taking over certain planets give you certain bonuses.  If they have particular buildings on them, you have access to certain special units.  There is a bit more to it tthan that though, and I think this part of the game could actually end up being pretty solid.  Hard to tell with only playing the tutorial.    

Just a note that there are options to set the speed of the land and space battles, in case some of you think it may be too fast.  Also, you can pause and give orders apparently (I didn't try to, but I do remember seeing the button).

That's about it for now.  I will have better impressions when I actually play the small strategic map that comes with the demo.  I think you must play as the Rebels for this part of the demo; just an FYI.

I would like to hear what others think too if you have a chance to play around with it.
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2006, 01:18:03 AM »

First off let me say i don't play games that require a large amount of thinking.  The rts games i like are the basic AoE type games where you build a large army and crush your opponent.  I personally don't like to play games that require steep learning curves.  I like to jump right in with minimal guidance and figure things out by myself for the most part.

In saying that, holy rocket science!  I quit after the second tutorial because my head was hurting trying to keep up with how to play.  For those who like that type of game, this seems to be very much strategic.  

I'm sure someone will come along and explain it in more detail than i can since it really overwhelmed me.  Sorry this wasn't much help.  It just was waaay over my head.
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2006, 03:18:10 AM »

I'm working on something for it briefly...but in my thirty minutes of playing, I am very happy.  I believe Star Wars RTS has just scored a big one.
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2006, 03:48:15 AM »

I got home around 7PM and started playing around 8:30PM. I just finished the whole thing at 10:30PM on Medium.

My impressions:

The game plays very well and the graphics are real nice. I like the mixing of strategic and tactical for the game overall.

The interface seems a little off though. The zoom is way to fast and you also can't seem to click and zoom on and area or vehicle/character, so you have to zoom in and then pan around.
There is also no turn command that I can find. I do not like this at all and it seems lazy not to include it. This game NEEDS a full 3D interface (pan,tilt,zoom,rotate). There were many times in the battle that I really felt the need for a rotate at the very least.
The maps (at least in the demo) seem too small as well. This is falsely covered by not letting you zoom out too far. (There was one time where I was able to zoom out for a split second, all the way and see the whole map. Not sure if this was a glitch though.)

For some reason, the space battles DO seem more fun. I am not quite sure why though as they run almost the same as the ground battle with space graphics. (The space battles are all on a flat plane with combat taking place in faux 3D, meaning you can't control the 3D like homeworld)

The maps seem only ok to me. They feel too constrained in some parts and you are lead down a path with little to no room to go different ways. I hope this is just because of the limited map availablility for the demo.

It looks like almost all the units will have some sort of special ability which is nice, but I wonder at how useful some of those abilities will be.

One interesting feature is a retreat button that starts a countdown on the map of around 10 seconds. When the timer counts down, all of your units fully retreat from the map and take off. I can't quite tell if the maps completely regenerate or not though. I don't "think" they do, however, some stuff might be rebuilt. I also do not know if your units heal after retreating. If they do, it could be interesting and you will probably see a lot of hit and run tactics in multiplayer.

Speaking of which, there is none in the demo, which is bad. I would have like to see at least a 4 player demo. I don't know how many the game supports, but almost definately over 2 since there is a give player money command and unless you are trying to bribe your enemy to back off (which "might" work), you must be able to have allies.

Speaking of which.. smile On some maps there are "3rd Party" troops. Some will join you and seem to be self-repleshing and controlable, while some will attack you and are controled by the PC and will attack boths sides. I recommend taking some troops and visting the Sarlacc on the Tatooine map.. smile

Overall, I think I will like this game, but it could already do with afeature patch to address some of the things I mentioned.....
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2006, 04:17:54 AM »

The game is really really good.  :shock: Defintely picking it up next month.

A couple of notes:

You can rotate the camera by holding ctrl and clicking the middle mouse button.

The AI has been dumbed down for the demo. In the full version, it will actually attack you on the Galactic map.

The ground tactical maps may seem small in comparison to the typical RTS, but you have to remember that in the full version, the map is basically 40+ planets.  :wink:

Multiplayer in the full version will include 2-player Galactic Map play and up to 8-player skirmish mode.


The game reminds me of a mix of the Total War series, Ground Control, and Dawn of War with it's own unique element being both land and space combat amongst an entire galaxy. Weather elements affecting land combat, different bonuses given to planetary control, targetting of ships subsystems in space combat, and no goofy resource management.

One of the things I love is how massive the game is (once we have the entire galactic map,) but still retains a fast pace nature that is typical of the genre. The size of the tactical battle maps are perfect and really keep an emphasis on the battles while still having some of the deep characteristics of a turn based game on the Galactic map.

Graphically, it's great for the genre, but won't blow anyone away. There are a lot of little details that stand out like footprints left from AT-AT's and the weather effects are pretty snazzy. Most importantly, it runs great and has the shortest load times I've expierenced in a game in quite some time.

My only complaint would be that I thought the Hero units ability to go invulnerable was a bit overpowered. Balance issues will most likely exist until a patch or two, but that's really par for the course within the genre.
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2006, 05:23:03 AM »

All right, my impressions:

http://www.gamingtrend.com/Articles/articles.php?artID=121
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2006, 06:48:27 AM »

got it, installed it, about to play it smile
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2006, 07:26:25 AM »

The ground combat was really unsatisfying.  Hopefully in the months since they finished this demo they've improved upon it.

Dreamshadow, I have to disagree with you about the balance not being simple rock paper scissors, at least in the ground combat.  Honestly it's just as bad as Age of Empires when you get past the graphics.  What's worse, it seemed like they couldn't decide between AoE style balance and special abilities or more C&C style placements and instadeaths.

I sent infantry in on a raid to attack the imperials first, then all my infantry were slaughter by those tie figher-like treaded tanks, not because they out shot the infantry, but because of some weird special ability that allowed them to run over infantry.  The rebel light tanks have no such ability.

And those light tanks?  Why aren't they more effective against infantry or AT-STs?  Why are they effective against the tie tanks?  I'd figure those quad blasters would do wonders against infantry, just as they would tear apart the tie tanks.  But for some reason they do less damage to infantry than my soldiers.

If they're going to have balance like this, they need to remove insta-death abilities like the speederbike's thermal detonator and the tie tank's infantry squish.  This allows commanders to focus on making sure the right units are engaging the right enemy, instead of having to micromanage every little ability.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2006, 08:18:52 AM »

Wonder if there is a skirmish mode in the full version. Didn't get a chance to download the demo (and probably won't) due to my lack of reliable online access, but I'm still keeping an eye on this one.
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 08:38:13 AM »

The 2 last tutorials cover skirmish mode, so I'm guessing the answer is yes slywink
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2006, 01:10:04 PM »

I played the demo without playing the tutorial, I just jumped in knowing I can whoop butt in any ol RTS.  Just need to pound out some peons, a barracks or two, get a few far--

What the?  What the drech is all this??  Did I load up Master of Orion 4?  Where are my farms?!!?



 Tongue

Yeah, so I had no idea what I was doing.  This one is a bit different from the standard RTS affair... by a wide margin.  Interesting hybrid play.  Granted, because of this, I had no idea what I was doing, but here are some thoughts after messing around.

1) AI is totally passive.  Yes the post above says this is just in the demo, but er, one has to really wonder WHY this would be the case in a demo.

2) Space battles are pretty cool.  The component targeting and specials make it pretty fun.  I did feel a bit frustrated/ removed with the lack of camera motion and just watching "icons."

3) Land battles are very bland and in some ways really annoying.  The no building in battle plus insta death on a lot of things is a frustrating combo.

4)  Graphics in the space fighting are surprisingly late 90s looking (ie not that hot), but the land battles seem to have much better textures and falshy effects.

5)  The conquest mode is a really neat idea, too bad the AI waits around for you to eventually call it Susan.  When I started on Hoth I thought I was in for some real cool invasion repelling a la Empire, but no...

Okay, this may read like I am really down on it, but I am not.  It looks really cool and suddenly I am very interested in the title.  However, I am fearing some of the above could potentially do serious harm if its not addressed by Gold date.
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2006, 01:36:44 PM »

On the passive AI, I found this on the OO Forums:
Quote
I can't find the link at the moment, but there was a post from a Petroglyph dev over at LucasForums.com saying that the demo was from a build that's at least 3-4 months old, that build times were sped up just for this demo, and that the Galactic AI was disabled since there were only a few systems available and they didn't want the AI to build up and attack when losing just one planet can screw up the demo scenario.
Sounds reasonable enough.
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2006, 04:35:17 PM »

I'm happy to hear that the build times were sped up for the demo, and I hope the travel times between planets are also exaggerated.  Played at the pace of the demo, Empire At War seems like it would be won by whoever could click their build and move orders the fastest.

This is also one of the rare RTS games where I'm frequently using the ability to give orders while the game is paused.  The space battle in the asteroid field is especially hectic as I try to keep my X-Wing squadrons chasing down incoming wings of TIE Bombers while my Y-Wings target enemy subsystems.

Overall, my feelings on the demo are mixed, but so long as the reviews skew towards the positive, I'm leaning towards picking it up.  The Galactic Conquest mode seems like it could be a refreshing change of pace from most strategy games.  Let's just hope the AI has a variety of difficulty levels so players can find one that'll give them a good challenge.

I am curious about the overall usefullness of Rebel smugglers.  If the Empire can always see when credits are being siphoned from one of their planets, wouldn't the imperial player be able to neutralize enemy smugglers almost instantly?  Or would those "credit lost" icons sort of be lost in the shuffle of trying to manage a large scale war effort?

-Autistic Angel
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2006, 05:42:41 PM »

I'm guessing that the Empire assets used to neutralize Rebel smugglers are limited. In other words, you can't crank out 50 bounty hunters and send them all over the galaxy. Plus the bounty hunters also take time to travel from planet to planet. Finally it seems to me that the Empire might have to choose what it wants the bounty hunters to do, i.e. there will be more than 1 use for them.

I can conceivably see the smugglers staying on a planet for several days, then warping from one side of the galaxy to the other and smuggling from a planet there for several days. Which means the Empire has to be quick to move the bounty hunters into position once the "planet siphon" icon pops up.

This is all just guesswork smile.
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2006, 07:59:21 PM »

Seeing the main menu through the viewscreen of a Tie fighter makes me crave a Tie Fighter 2! Just think back to how great Freespace 2 looked years ago and just imagine what could be done today with a Tie Fighter 2. Good god that would be amazing.
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« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2006, 02:52:02 AM »

For those who don't have it yet:

GAMESPOT:
http://download2.gamespot.com/d3/gsc/strategy/starwarsrts/EmpireAtWarDemo.exe

3DGAMES:
http://www.3dgamers.com/dlselect/games/swempireatwar/empireatwardemo.exe.html

DOWNLOAD.COM:
http://www.download.com/Star-Wars-Empire-at-War-demo/3000

FILEPLANET:
http://www.fileplanet.com/159774/download/Star-Wars:-Empire-at-War-Demo

T-ONLINE.DE:
http://spiele.download.t-online.de/dladvert/31648

FILESHACK:
http://www.fileshack.com/file.x?fid=8255

FILECLOUD:
http://www.filecloud.com/files/file.php?file_id=2753

TORRENT LINK:    
http://rapidshare.de/files/11303407/EmpireAtWarDemo.exe.torrent.html

EAWHQ:
http://www.eawhq.de/index.php?go=downloads&dl_id=6

FILEFRONT:
http://files.filefront.com/Star+Wars+Empire+at+War+Demo/;4632916;;/fileinfo.html

WORTHPLAYING:
http://www.worthplaying.com/article.php?sid=31196

GAMERS HELL:
http://www.gamershell.com/download_12247.shtml

ACTIONTRIP:
http://www.actiontrip.com/files/demos/starwarsempireatwar.phtml

BOOMTOWN:
http://download.boomtown.net/en_uk/articles/art.view.php?id=10342
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2006, 04:31:36 AM »

So far I made it through the tutorial and its still fun.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2006, 04:46:14 AM »

Quote from: "Vikki"
So far I made it through the tutorial and its still fun.


More than I can say for some RTS titles I've played recently. slywink

I've got the download ready to play after work. smile
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2006, 06:36:23 AM »

I actually have this title reserved but I'm not 100% sure I'm going to get it.  It has nothing to do with the demo, but rather with me being honest about my lack of enthusiasm for RTS gaming.  I really liked Rome:TW because of the strategic element and figured this game was similar, which it is, but the fact is that I never really played Rome:TW as much as I thought I would.  I even bought the expansion for it and that's still unopened on the shelf.  So now I'm wondering if I'd really play this game as much as I would need to in order to justify buying it on day one for full price.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2006, 03:59:20 PM »

I just finished the Tutorial mission and will try the rest this eveninb, but I think this will be a day 1 purchase for me
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« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2006, 07:32:29 PM »

Just an FYI..
If you go here you can find a bunch of mods for the demo, including mods that let you play most/all of the galaxy and ships and play as the empire.
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« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2006, 12:01:04 AM »

so how do you get it to work?  I put it in the game data folder and nothing happens
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« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2006, 03:19:17 AM »

There should be instructions,, I think you unzip it to a temp folder, then copy eveything to gamedata/data...That is what it is for most, but a few go in just gamedata. 1 or 2 also have a separate executable I believe.

Then just goto single player and start the demo as normal.

I does add a lot of life to the demo, but you have to be careful not to get tired of it before the full version comes out. smile

Some things I noticed so far:

1) I do not like how the computer pics your initial force of ships if you have too many. I would prefer an option to pick my starting ships as I sometimes have different things in mind.
2) Not sure if it's a bug or not, but you can't retreat space.
3) Some stations can not be completely destroyed by capital ships. Not sure if it's a bug or intentional. ALWAYS leave at least 1 set of fighters in reserve. Right now, if you have no fighters and you kill everything including all station hard points, but not the station AND you only have capital ships, you have to exit the game. (Can't retreat, can't kill some of the stations with capital ships) The marauder capital "may" be able to kill it will the barrage special.
4) Some maps are bugged. not sure if it's a demo or mod problem (Currently all planets use the same map). Some maps will have invisble buildings. They will show up in red on the map and your units will fire on them. They CAN be destroyed but it takes time. Constant bomb runs on the same spot or tanks switched to rocket mode can take care of them, but some will spawn enemy infantry/vehicles.
5) Some of the mods have the Imp AI on superhigh. They will kick your butt like nothing.
6) You can only seem to issue build orders while paused. Movement orders (including those in the galactic map) will not work. This needs to be fixed.
7) Speaking of the Galactic Map...A part of me thinks this should be turn based. In realtime, in the full game with working AI and all, I can see the map getting hectic. Way too much will be going on.  I can see 2 player battles taking FOREVER. I think it will be EXTREMLY hard to organize any sort of front line.  Some possible things to help.
A) Make the galactic map turn based. Have all builds take a certain number of turns as well as moves. Make sure the player knows the number of turns before hand.
B) Have a separate planet breakdown page. Something that has a list of your planets and the space/land defenses based there as well what is in the build que.
C) Enable a perpetual build que so I can select X-wing's,for example to constantly build without my intervention. Have an option to enable this on multiple planets at once.
D) Re-do the travel map. Right now, I think you can go to any adjacent planet. This leaves you with a lot more area to defend. Make it so that some planets need to go through 2-4 other planets to get there. Not all, just some....
Cool An orbital bombardment option would be nice, but it may be too powerful in conjunction with the bombing runs.

That's about all so far. I played for about 4 hours straight today and didn't finish one full map. I pushed the Empire back to about half the map, then because save isn't working, ended up quiting.

Overall I like the game, but it definately needs some fixes already. i only hope that some of the things I mentioned were already fixed since the demo is actually several months old (which begs the question, why not release it sooner?)
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« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2006, 10:00:34 AM »

My impression is: excellent underlying game with terribly game ruining special abilities and unit balance.

My examples would be:  Infantry vs infantry combat is good standard C&C fare and handles okay.  Basic combat between only a few balanced unit types plays out well.  However, in ground combat, when you have a full range of units vs a full range of units and you are playing the AI which can control all its units at once, the player is at horrendous disadvantage and is pretty much guaranteed to lose masses of units to instadeath unless he does the oldest AoE stunt in the book, manage to land pretty much all his units, and just en masse marche them through the enemy base mass targetting everythiing.

The reason is really simple: There are too many units that are only good against one or two other units and there are too many units with overpowering special abilities that let them (like speederbikes) zip in at ungodly rates of speed, drop detonators, and destroy ungodly numbers of troops with virtually no risk to themselves unless the player has just hte right mix of units to counter speeder bikes at that spot and is paying attention so he can micro his troops out of the way and micro the light tank to kill the speederbike etc....

In short, the ground battles require ungodly micro which is bad, The players either need to be able to focus more on the strategic level of the ground battle by having AI to assist the player by making troops move out of harms way and run for cover on their own against units that are strong to them and they are week against etc.... OR, by simplifing the incredibly hugely absurd level of rock paper scissors found in this game back down to the immensely successfull C&C level where you have basically explosive/large projectile good against heavy untis, and small projectile/fragmentary good against light units with specials being very short range mass death to infantry type and very long range single unit death type with long recharge.

Also, this star wars rpg's specials such as bombing runs put nukes in C&C to shame.  This is an example of where games like C&C will balance the super weapon in a way Star wars seems incapable of doing.  On one hand you have mass descruction that you can mitigate, recover from, avoid to some extend.  On the other hand you have even bigger mass descrution that you really can't avoid, wipes out everything in its path, is completely unrecoverable from, and covers a VAST area of land.   I'm referring for example to a Y-Wing bombing run which could wipe out half a empire base or more and destroy every unit a vast area...easily.j


Hopefully a lot of this has already been smoothed out and balanced over/redone or improved.  Generally tho, i exepct a demo to be representative of the final product, however, because this demo is in effect a version 5 months pre-gold, I will reserve final judgement.

But my summary for the demo would be.  Lots of useless specials, and lots of very overpowered specials.  Unbalanced game in favor of AI since there is far to much micro that has to done, and a lack of place for half of the units in the game that just dont appear to be needed or good for anything in the final analysis.  (Nebulon frigate anyone?  X-wing anyone?)

Someone will scream that i called xwing useless...but take this for ex: In the astreroid belt battle in the demo, the first time i played it, i went in with a neb frig, two correllian corvettes and xwings and ywings.  It was a fairly drawn out evne battle where tons of units died on both sides before i finally won with few units left (i had a lot of xwings).  My second time i tried that battle, i went in with 5 corvettes, 1 x-wing group, and like 10 y wing squadrons.  I put 5 Y-wings on each SD and started with ion specials vs their shield generators.  I sicked the corvettes on the Tie fighters and Tie bombers and put the xwing squad as escort for my transports.

The 5 corvettes almost isntantly wiped out every TIE on the map, i mean just vaped em all in seconds.   The Y-Wing squads quickly reduced the SD's to complete useless rubble and then all the units combined to smoke the station and the battel was over in a few minutes with very very minimal losses to the rebelts, like just a few y wing losses.

That's not well balanced having 5 corvetts smoke hundreds of ties in seconds...
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« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2006, 10:38:35 AM »

Yeah, it's a bad idea to have a capship excell at killing fighters.  It's nice to have such a ship that can deal with fighters, but killing that many is bad balance and really undervalues the X-wing.

Have you experienced the stupidity that is the Tie Marauder yet?  It has an ability stolen from C&C that really has no place in a Star Wars game.  It can run over infantry with some speed boost attack.  No other tank can do this.

In a way, I'm waiting for the inevitable Star Wars mod for Supreme Commander.
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« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2006, 12:46:19 PM »

Quote from: "Punisher"
Overall I like the game, but it definately needs some fixes already.

Sounds to me that many of your problems with the demo could easily be attributed to running a demo hacked to perform beyond its intended capabilities.  I haven't played the demo, so some of your complaints could be in the "official" version too, but I'm thinking using a hacked version to judge the final product is less than kosher.
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« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2006, 01:25:08 PM »

1) The rebels DO have a tank that runs over infantry, just not in the official demo. It is available with the mods.
2) I am not worrying too much about some of the issues I have, however, some of the issues are in the official demo as well. I also realize that the demo is based on a 4 month old engine and many things could be fixed.
3) The mods mostly just make extra planets and units available in the demo. It appears that you can do this by just adding them to the existing xml files. This is good because it means that mods for the full release should be easier. since the full game will have the full galaxy and units, some of my observations may be true for the full version as well, such as the huge amount that will be going on in a galaxy wide battle.
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