I was expecting to have a game close to the caliber of Warcraft and Starcraft, complete with base building and creating large armies. I was a big fan of watching things being built. GC doesn?t include the steps toward creation. Here?s what they do include: you can?t build buildings?you can only build people. And even when you do purchase a unit, there is no waiting time; you see you?re money decrease in the specified amount and then POOF!!! You have a unit. On the surface no waiting seems to be a good thing, but it was one of those aspects that make a real-time strategy game a real time strategy game. The inability to create more buildings is ridiculous. You are provided with one ?creature creator? and one armory, that is it. You want more? Oh well, ain?t gonna happen. You can?t stretch your base in size and you can?t build new ones.
Here?s the other ridiculous part. In prior Blizzard games, important because the developers are from Blizzard, you could create, separate, and manage multiple groups of large amounts. In GC you have 10, the end. 10 units that can not be separated into smaller barrages of people, and 10 is the maximum. Granted the small number is easier to keep track of, but it is also a huge bother when combined with the inability to create more ?creature creators?. You are constantly getting your butt whooped and dizzy by going back and forth from your barracks to the attack zone, only to lose the game and all your money.
Gameplay: The target audience is also a bit skewed. The game seems to have been developed with the overall audience in mind, a nice combination of prior real-timers and newer, younger ones. However the game missed on both fronts. The character design is geared toward a younger audience, not nearly as gruesome and devilish as I had hoped. But the attire and weaponry of the units is a little more than, I think, would please younger persons parents. Chainsaws and bloody massacres don?t go over real well. The initial game play doesn?t require much thought or strategy which would aid younger participants, but once you get past the introductory levels GC nails you and if you have never played a game like Warcraft you will lose, guaranteed. Jaleco tried to appeal to their target market by trying to incorporate aspects that would appeal to everyone. The end result is a wishy-washy game that doesn?t have enough of any one thing to appeal to any market at all.
While incredibly muted and hard to see, GC does have quality imaging. The decent polygon count gives the characters a real-life quality; which is good, because it takes your mind of the clipping and the slow frame rate and the strange guttural noises. While detailed in manner and form, the characters themselves were based off of very simplistic drawings, in my opinion. The developers from Jaleco could have done a bit more to appeal to the more mature gamer?instead of trying to appeal to the parents of 10 year olds?no offense to any 10 year olds, my brother?s 10.
Graphics: While I am in the process of ripping on the graphics, let?s talk a bit about the camera. Alright, have you ever ridden one of those carnival rides where you?re in a pirate ship, or boat of some sort, and it swings you back and forth and up and down till you?re almost vertical and about to vomit? Well that?s what the camera angle is like. In your wide variety of modes, all two of them, you have two choices of camera angles, bird?s eye or carnival ride; one makes you nauseous and the other you can?t see with. So it?s a lose-lose situation. This could have been easily corrected by giving you the ability to use both thumb sticks to control the vertical and horizontal alignment. But it?s back to that hole 10 year old bit?little kids don?t have the motor skills to control two thumb sticks, unless you?re my cousin Miles?but we won?t go into that.
Seeing as two of the staff members came from Blizzard I am surprised that they let this type of quality pass. The two guys from Blizzard who were working on this project obviously left their senses at the door. Blizzard usually makes games that have great everything: well developed character animations, intriguing environments, interesting effects that come across with an overall well polished look. With its muddled graphics and lackluster presentation, GC lands on the other side of the spectrum.
On to the sound. It might not be apparent now, but sound is a very important part of real-time strategy game play. Because sound not only creates an audio environment but also gives you important hints as to what?s going on out of your view. With some games a bad performance in the sound effects area can be excused, games like GC need a solid performance. GC did a decent job in this area but there were a couple slipups.
Overall, the combat audio was pretty good. You heard the familiar grunts and groans of the battlefield as well as gunfire and hits, but the military alerts?not so much. Many of the auditory clues as to the goings-on of your immense troops, meaning your TEN units, meant to inform you of impending doom, but were so muted that they blended into the background music and prevented proper strategic maneuvers. Aside from this most hindering issue, the soundtrack was interesting. It was mainly comprised of random pieces of orchestral music that no one would recognize, but as a classical music lover, did not detract from gameplay. If you don?t like that type of music, its prevalence would most likely make you want to pull a Van Gogh and lop off an ear or two.
Sound: In typical real-time strategy game development, the inability to customize the soundtrack is normal. But when the Xbox offers such an amazing capability you would think they would offer it, but alas, they don?t. Not including this makes sense in that it?s what is expected, but it also hinders your enjoyment of the game if you don?t particularly like their music choices. So, it?s not new, but it?s not old.
Overall, GC is not my favorite and I would rather abuse myself, or at least stab myself in the eye, than pay 50 bucks for it. People waiting for a real-time strategy game for a console, still have some waiting to do. It is real-time and parts of it are strategy but it is not a real-time strategy game. While a decent first attempt into the genre for the Xbox, there?s obviously plenty of room for improvement.
Overall: 72 %
Gameplay: 70 %
Graphics: 56 %
Sound: 60 %
In Insurgency: Sandstorm, players are immersed in close-quarters battlegrounds where the smallest of details can give an edge. With highly realistic audio design, enemy locations can be discovered just by their sounds.