Finally, I've got myself a broadband connection and so i'm back working for the site. It's unusual for me to review a PC game, that side of things is normally left to Wolf. As he worked on this game (he wrote the UK/Euro strategy guide) he decided to pass the preview to someone else, and here it is.
I've been away from the PC game scene for some time, mostly because my pc is at the lower end of the market. This means that i'd heard nothing of this game til it fell in my lap. Savage is one of the many games that attempts to push the barriers of gaming by incorporating two different genres into one game. The game draws in the the dynamics and feel of any online FPS and merges it with the resource control and strategy of an RTS. The big difference between this game and other real time strategy games is that each unit is played by an online player.
You get to play as either a stone age human or a beast. Each team is made up of any number of humans or beasts, plus one commander. The general idea of the game is to destroy your oponents stronghold. The commander is responsible for building construction, research and unit upgrading. As commander you view the game from a birds eye view. You can produce workers, who you send to gather resources or work on buildings. Fortunately, players can contribute to the workload, thus speeding up the speed at which your base is built. The game has all the building types you'd expect such as a main base, defense towers and weapon production facilities. The commander can also give gold to individual units to allow them to purchase upgrades, or promote units to officer status. Ultimately the commander is responsible for the success or failure of a team, as a slow commander will restirct the fighters acess to weapons, thus weakening the army.
The first person element of the game is a standard affair, which in all honesty does't stand out from the bunch. The game doesn't really shine in this department, the weapons ranged weapons seem bland, even the most powerful weapons feel a little weak, this is probably due to game balance issues, but is still a tad dissapointing. Melee weapons are more powerful but these are only upgraded by purchasing a different character class. The roleplaying element is a nice little addition. As you kill things, either enemies or the levels resident creatures, you gain experience points, with each level gained yor charcter will gain an improvement, such as improved hand weapon, improved stamina or basic armour. This is a nice little addition to the game which encourages to run out and kill early to gain an advantage against your foes. Also these improvements are lost at the end of a game so everyone starts out equal.
There is a slightly odd feeling to the game in the fact that you are 'Savages' with futuristic weapons. This does dissapoint slightly, i would prefer a futuristic game with futuristic weapons, or a medieval game with medieval weapons. Not a medieval style game with futuristic weapons.
Graphically, the game impresses, colours are bold, textures are well put together and models are smooth. I ran the game on a 900mhz processor with 896 of memory and a 128mb radeon graphics card, i set the graphic settings to medium details. Despite my low power processor the game was still running smoothly withabout 15 players onscreen. Above that and the frame rate did start to chug slightly.
The game sounds works well music is atmospheric and sound effects are clean and crisp. Its often a shame that weapons don't hurt how they sound.
One problem I found was constantly being on the outside of the game, i didn't feel involved in any kind of team. The lack of voice chat prevented any indepth communication, and you don't really get a chance to type detailed message. Granted the commander can issue commands to the troops, but there didn't appear to be any kind of team dynamic. Some games that i played were pure frustration, due to players refusing to join together as a team, though when players do work together the feeling of accomplishment is fantastic and this game could rank against some of the best online games, unfortunately i didn't get to play many of this type of game.
Overall, the game has promise. it has been released already in America and has a version 2.0 patch. Hopefully the game has developed from the version i've played. If the final version were identical to the preview code that i have, it would deserve around 70-75%. If voice chat were added and the weapons were beefed up, i believe the main gameplay issues would be resolved and the game could score much higher.