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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RTS

 

Publisher

Talonsoft

 

Developer

Silicon Dreams

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 2000

 

 

- Good graphics and weapon effects.

- Catchy music

- Craig Charles is smegginí good.

- Neat explosions

- Take personal control of your units

- Strategy guide included on the disc

- Experience points for units

- Well balanced units

 

 

- Camera is not friendly

- Steep learning curve

- No in-game save feature

- Limited number of units

- Incredibly difficult

- Sometimes units will just stand still and get blasted to bits

- Occasional crashes

- Be prepared to play each mission a number of times

 

 

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Dogs of War 

Score: 5.2 / 10

To remain objective, reviews are supposed to be written without using the first person, but in this case Iíll make an exception.

I really wanted to like this game. The opening cinematic pulled me in with its cool creatures and rocking soundtrack. I recognized the voice of Craig Charles (Red Dwarf) and thought I would enjoy this game. Installation was a snap and the options screen booted up no problem, always a good start.

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The story isnít too original: Earth has run out of resources and has set up mining colonies on other planets. Primus IV is one of these colonies. The complicating factor is that Primus IV is also home to the Mantai, intelligent Starship Troopers-esque creatures, and the only source of SL-18, an all-purpose element. The Imperial Order (Earth) decides they want to control the supply of SL-18 but the colonists have other plans, and contract mercenaries, the WarMonkeys, to defend the planet.

I began with the tutorial missions and realized I was definitely in over my head. Iím more attune to the Command & Conquer point-and-click RTS so getting used to the controls required some effort. The tutorial missions did a pretty good job of explaining the basic controls. And there are a lot of controls. Each unit can be commanded to do a number of things (follow, patrol, attack, etc.) and the player can even take direct control of individual units. This is a cool option, giving a chance to run and gun on the battlefield. There is also the ability to group units, which is essential to maintaining control in the battlefield. The biggest problem I had was getting used to the left-click select and right-click action setup of the mouse. The tutorial also includes information on the camera control, the most problematic part of this game.

 

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Dogs of War takes place in a 3D world, complete with hills, rivers, and mountains. The camera allows the player to zoom in on the terrain and rotate the view to any point in the gaming area, but the interface is clumsy to say the least. It works with a combination of the +/-, shift and arrow keys. In the heat of battle it becomes difficult to know whatís happening where. And since only a section of the total area can be viewed there is a small overview map in the left 

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corner. Being able to jump to specific parts of the map would have been helpful. Same goes for a hot key to jump to a specific group or unit. I got lost quite a few times trying to scope out enemy positions. To alleviate some of the problems with the camera is a pause feature. When pause is enabled orders can be issued and the terrain explored. When the camera is panned out the units under your command turn to dots, making it near impossible to issue individual orders. The grouping command comes in handy at this point.

 

The first mission I played, on the side of the Imperial Order, was successfully completed. The second mission I lost. Then I lost again. Then again. Nothing I did seemed to work. Finally I turned to the strategy guide so thoughtfully included on the disc. Even following the guide it took me three more attempts to complete the mission. One of the problems is that there is no in-game save feature. The save/load feature is only available between missions, requiring multiple attempts to complete a level if you screw up. To make matters more difficult youíre stuck with a very limited number of units to complete each mission. Each mission contains several objectives, some of which are not mentioned in the mission briefing. Nothing is more frustrating than fighting to the goal then a message comes in that your objectives have changed. Usually the change is something along the lines of "stop a tank column with a machine gunner." Itís irritating to get so close to the end when the other shoe drops, your squad is wiped out and you have start the mission all over!

A small wrinkle is the experience points your units can acquire if they manage to get through a mission. On the "assemble troops" menu there is the chance to assign infantry and buy equipment. Assigning experienced troops to a mission can pay off but since experienced troops are rare (most get wiped out during the course of a mission) itís not a great feature.

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The graphics are nice to look at and I especially like the weapons effects. The explosions are good, little bits flying all over the place. (Itís a shame thatís itís usually your bits) The terrain is very detailed and varied. The armoured units kick up dust trails. The sound is good. The volume of battle increases or decreases depending on how close the camera is to the action. The music is good, too. (Especially the opening music which Iím still humming.)

Bottom line: I didnít like this game because my threshold for frustration is not what is used to be. The camera problems are just too much. The voice acting is pretty good (the female helicopter pilot dropping off troops saying, "Itís raining men.") and I like the inclusion of Craig Charlesí talents. The graphics are solid 3D and theyíre easy on the eyes. The option to personally control units is a nice touch but I found that it detracted from larger missions where the rest of your squad can be wiped out while youíre off exploring. The three sides are well-balanced in terms of units but the Mantai are given short shrift with only five missions to fight through. The learning curve is too steep for the average gamer (okay, me) to be much fun. There was the potential for Dogs of War to be a good game but the camera control problems detract from the experience.

- Omni

 

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