Previewed: August 20, 2004
Release Date: September, 2004
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Developed by independent developer, Rampant Games, the upcoming space action game, Void War is showing great promise. Reminiscent of console fighting games with a Wing Commander twist, Void War gives the player a ship and sends them off into a universe where everyone wants to kill them.
Assuming the role of Lance Dawson, the player moves from level to level clearing out enemy vessels who oftentimes offer a brief and campy, “Now we must Fung Fu fight!” introduction. That is not to say that Void War will be shallow. To the contrary, even in its unfinished state, it is clear the Void War provides enough depth to ensure skill-based gameplay.
The ships I was able to fly and fight against where well diversified. Dependent on what difficulty setting you choose, the ships you are granted access to all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Also – and again reminiscent of fighting games – each ship also has its own special ability.
The lower tier ships are easy to fly, well armed, and have sufficient armor to seemingly take on any challenge. In fact, they fly so well that most games would use these ships to reward the player for progressing through the game. Likewise, the more advanced ships initially seem to be just to be weaker and touchier versions of their well-armored brethren.
However, it does not take long to discover that, with a little finesse of the pilot’s part, these ships nimbly glide around their enemies. While they are a challenge to keep under control, in the right hands, these crafts are masters of inertia. In turn, they are quick and dizzying threats to all that they come up against.
As with most good space-based dogfighters, the key is to use inertia to your advantage. Taking a simplistic approach, one needs only one to propel themselves in a given direction and then pivot so that their guns are locked onto the enemy, thus creating a strafe of sorts.
Piloting the ships found on higher difficulty settings, pulling off strafes is remarkably easy and with a bit of practice, highly complex patterns can be mastered. Although I was unable to play in multiplayer mode, I would imagine that these patterns will play a large role when deciding the victor on any given level.
The levels I saw all cut straight to the point with electrical barriers giving each them an arena-like feel. All featuring some pivotal obstacle – asteroids, a space station, etc. – the levels present some variable for the player to take into consideration.
Asteroids, for instance, require some expert piloting on the players part as they role around space. They are also destroyable which creates some frenetic combat situation where asteroids that one provided coverage, now break into halves around your ship. Alternatively, space stations provide excellent static coverage, allowing for some excellent hit and hide tactics.
While I saw relatively little of the game, I left feeling very hopeful. Although Void War’s indie heritage shows in its barebones presentation, the game also looks to provide a very solid gaming experience. Most importantly, it is fun. Assuming that Void War continues in this fashion, gamers no doubt have an enjoyable and quirky space fighter heading its way to their hard drives.
While we wait for more details on this awesome new title, check out our collection of great screenshots in our Preview Gallery.