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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Online RTS/FPS

 

Publisher

iGames

 

Developer

S2 Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2003

 

 

- Unique online play

- Can have up to 32 players on each team

- Solid net code

- Easy connection to servers

- Teamwork is emphasized

- Good balance between different units and weapons

 

 

- No single player mode

- Storyline in manual only

- Maps can be too large

 

 

Feature: Savage Post Mortem with Jon Shiring

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Review: Metroid Prime (GC)

 

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Savage: The Battle for Newerth

Score: 7.5 / 10

Itís never a good sign when playing a game becomes a chore.  While not always like that, it can feel like it sometimes when playing Savage.  When there is a good game to be had, the gamer will see the beauty of the developerís vision and the overall experience will out-shadow most of the rough edges around the game.

 

savage pc review          savage pc review

 

Savage is unique in its combination of gameplay styles.  While games like Sacrifice have in the past put the power of an RTS commander in the perspective of a FPS, no game has really done what Savage does.  Here, in online play, one player plays the commander who sees the map from the RTS perspective and commands all the other players in the field who are the battle units.  All the other players on the map play from a first person perspective or a pulled back third person perspective.

 

There are two teams that play against one another; one team plays the human team and the other the beast team.  Humans are not as strong as the beasts in melee combat but have stronger long range weapons.   Beasts do not have as great a variety of long range weapons but have more melee weapons.  The balance between the two sides is very well maintained and I have played on teams, both human and beast, where it seemed that one race was indomitable.  The game is won when one sides primary structure, known as the stronghold and lair, for humans and beasts respectively, is destroyed.

 

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As Savage is played completely online, there is no single player campaign or skirmish mode or practice mode.  As such, the developers have provided the storyline concerning why the beasts and man are at war in the manual.  While Iím not the biggest fan of this type of storytelling in a game, I suppose Savage can be forgiven this fact as there is no single player campaign.  Still, I would have liked to have at least a skirmish mode for practice.

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Connecting to a game is easy as there is an in game menu that lists all online servers that are currently hosting a game.  From there, it is possible to jump right into the action.  Generally, the team will already have a commander.  If there is not already a commander or if the existing commander wishes to play in the field and relinquish command another player only need enter the teamís primary structure, and choose to become the commander from the loadout menu. 

 

The RTS portion plays like most standard RTS games.  Savage has a fairly simple yet very streamlined technology tree.  The advances in technology depend on the buildings that have been created, existing technologies that have been researched and the resources available to spend on research.  There are only two resources that are harvested in Savage; gold and red stone.  Stone is used to create buildings while gold is important for researching new technologies.  Other resources that are specific to each race are created by specific buildings.

 

Players in the field are all battle units but can also help in the menial tasks required in order for a team to be successful.  The brunt of the grunt work in harvesting stone and building buildings lies with NPC workers.  Players in the field can be issued orders from the commander and these are shown by green highlights coupled with aural commands that tell a player where to go, what to attack or where to build.  Players can choose not to obey their commander, but generally it is in the best interest of the team that players trust in these commands. 

 

The FPS portion of the game is also fairly standard.  There are spawn points that can be captured and built around.  This all plays into the strategic portion of the game, and a good commander will be able to guide his or her soldiers to a victory through thoughtful capture of key areas of the map.  At the same time, while a good FPS gamer will not be able to single handedly turn the tide of a game, they will be able to make a difference in how the game plays out.  A player on the field, usually the best on the team, can be awarded officer status by the commander.  This allows that player and other units directly around him or her to heal over time.

 

savage pc review          savage pc review

 

As the commander handles the strategic advancement of available technology and his or her troops, players in the field earn gold for themselves and for the team by killing enemies or indigenous creatures.  The portion of gold that a player keeps for themselves can be used to purchase items, unit upgrades, and weapons in the loadout screen before a player respawns or when they enter their lair or stronghold.  If a player wants to purchase something but does not have sufficient gold, they may put in a request to the commander to give them enough gold from the teamís supply in order to purchase it.  Overall, the weapon balance is very good with the beasts and humans possessing a variety of weapons and skills that can make for some interesting battles.

 

While totally serviceable, the FPS portion of Savage is nowhere near as silky smooth as an Unreal Tournament or a Quake 3.  Also, while the RTS portion of the game serves its purpose in a very efficient way, the real beauty of the game is in how everything comes together.  In order to be successful at Savage teamwork is essential.  I have played in games where it was a sheer pleasure because my team operated like a well-oiled machine.  On the other hand, I have played on teams that had many talented players but where everyone only wanted kills for themselves and the commander had no clue.  This is when Savage is not so fun. 

 

When in a free for all and your team isnít acting responsibly towards each other, the game can drag on until your team is finally destroyed.  Most games I have played have been with 32 players (16 to a side).  In games of this size and those any smaller, the maps seem a little bit too large with huge treks needed in order to reach the enemy base.  However, in the gameís favor, if the commander does have a good strategy, this quickly remedyís itself as your team advances its fortifications. 

 

The gameís graphics and sound is nothing to brag about but they are not so dated as to be laughable.  The net code is good as I ran into very few problems, save for the game crashing a couple of times.  However, this should not scare away newcomers as S2 is constantly working on improving the game and a recent patch has solidified the online capability even more. 

 

While Savage may not be supremely addicting, it is still an excellent game and I can see it quickly becoming a favorite among online gamers.  In fact, through itís innovation, I believe it should become one of the favored online team based games in leagues.  Through S2ís continued support and additions, Savage can only get better.  If Savage proves to be enough of a success, one can only wonder at what a sequel would have in store for gamers.

 

- Mark Leung

(November 9, 2003)

 

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